WC: 2141 || Total: 3203/4000
"Silly side-kick," Theo tutted, a teasingly smug look crossing his ever expressive features as he waggled an index finger at her, "Of course I, the Great Treasure Hunter, would answer your invitation," he finished with a grandiose bow, though upon rising back up he was grinning and snickering. This Theo was a far cry from the one suffering in lonely silence in his room at the guild a short time before. He was absolutely terrible at lying and acting, but it wasn't lying if there were still shreds of his derpy self living amongst the depressing muck. That and he'd do anything to make someone else happy, even if it hurt himself in the long run. "I've been hunky-dory. Livin' the dream," he answered her with smile wide-enough to crinkle the corners of his eyes. His lips parted to counter her question with his own, but his already short attention span was stolen away by someone approaching them.
Theo was content to stay silent while Aspen interacted with the man, still unsure if he was truly up to rubbing his own nose in reminders of dead happiness. He was here so he knew he had to now, but there was a level of mental preparation that was taking place. Yes, he knew it was fake. But could he handle watching even fake lovers get married, enjoying something he'd only allowed himself begin to entertain when it was all ripped away? Was this level of torture worth cake? Cake was pretty important...he adored cake. Eating cake with his friend would be nice, maybe it'd perk him up a little--
A light sweat began on Theo's brow as the fancypants man mentioned the pair would be playing the bride and groom. All he could do was stand and stare at the gentleman and the mini-army that followed him, frosty blues wide in terror. Just keeping thinking about cake. The cake. Cake was worth it. Cake cake cake cake! They'd been betrayed by cake. The cake was a lie. A trap!
Talk about some deja vu. Theo had the distinct feeling he'd been here before, playing the groom across a different girl. There had been singing, something about making a man out of someone....and honestly, he knew it wasn't anything he'd done with Rin. So who was that other girl he was seeing? That wasn't any memory of his, though he had come to terms with the loss of time between his most recent death and his regaining of consciousness in the middle of a tomb in Desierto with Leona. Who he had been before and what he'd done was still a mystery, but he did get little snippets every now and then. He called them Ikevisions, since 'Ike' was who the Kurao and Theo hybrid had been masquerading as. According to Ikevision, he'd been so nervous that he nearly passed out. He'd endeavor not to do that today, though admittedly it'd get both of them out of this situation.
As much as he wasn't totally committed to carrying on, within seconds of the revelation his choice in the matter would be robbed from him. As hands reached out for him, he turned to run away, only to get his own feet tangled together. "ACK!" he squawked, lurching forward to eat gravel, but his face never met the rocks. Two of the three women kidnapping him were deceptively strong, no doubt to wrangle runaway grooms, so they easily hoisted him over their heads and carried him off almost like a hog to be cooked over an open flame. Though his vision was now upside-down, his eyes darted to Aspen. He only caught the smallest glance of her flushed face before they were both basically hauled down opposing hallways. "Wait-" he tried to slow the determined women to no avail. He wanted to talk to Aspen! They could back out! He could at least find out what she was thinking. He'd never seen her blush like that before. It was...cute. Ugh, now was not the time for that. No more of that...
The door closed and suddenly they were upon him like bees on the last wildflower. Measuring tape was wrapped around every nook and cranny as he was spun in place. "Iiiee! Don't touch me there!" he squeaked as someone cupped his butt. Whether this was on accident or purposeful was a mystery, nor could he tell which of them had done it. It was such a flurry of motion that it was dizzying...or maybe it was because he couldn't breathe. He wasn't sure when his tracksuit had been switched out for the dapper suit, but he did vaguely remember the flash of light now that he thought about it. It was so tight that his chest couldn't expand. As he wobbled backward, the elderly twin to Aspen's granny aid pulled him forward by the jacket folds with a gentle cackle. "Oh, hold on just a jiffy, son. Don't go passing out! We're fresh out of smelling salts," she teased in sagely grace, very used to skittish grooms losing consciousness. With another snap the suit expanded enough to fit like an expertly tailored suit
Theo sucked in a healthy portion of air, though it did little to alleviate the dizziness. His pulse was pounding in his ears. If he'd had a much of a heart left, there was no doubt it'd have been pulsating at a frenzied pace, rattling around in its bony cage, not unlike a newly trapped bird. As it was, the demonic energy acting as the two ventricles was trying to push blood through the weak aorta and the damaged remnants of arteries and could only do so much under pressure. It wasn't a proper heart, after all. Sometimes it couldn't keep up with autonomic responses, especially spastic ones from his plant-based replacement nervous system. This unfortunate combination was what ultimately claimed his life again after Rin's death.
Someone was fixing his hair and adjusting his tie, then the two younger helpers scattered and the elder led him toward a body-length mirror. Looking at her comforted him a little. She reminded him of Waltrud Bonbon, the kind old granny who had just wanted a cup of morning coffee and instead got a very confused boy breaking out of her machine. She'd been so patient with him, taking the time to get him acclimated to the futuristic times and even passing down her magic to him since she had no children of her own. The fiesty old bat had been a little older than this fashionista, but there was something in the hunched posture and the bright eyes that was familiar. "You look absolutely dashing. Your bride should be more than a little bedazzled, don't you think?"
The blue-tinted ebony hair swished as he turned his head with force to see. Theo cleaned up nice. His hair was parted on the side so it swooped over one eye. Not a hair was out of place. The suit matched his hair almost exactly, with a lighter muted navy vest and a lilac tie. The gold buttons were polished to sparkle as brightly as treasured coins, a detail the shiny enthusiast couldn't possibly miss. However, no matter how shiny the buttons, they weren't able to distract him from the state of his body. Without the folds and wrinkles of the tracksuit to hide behind, it was painfully obvious how thin his body had become. His frame was so slender that he hardly recognized himself when he took an overall look at the snazzy suit. Next, he noticed the dark circles under his eyes, which apparently caught the eagle-eyed gaze of fashion granny as well. "Quick, some concealer! Pale shade," she barked, holding out an expectant hand full of glittering rings he had to remind himself not to steal. A small salve jar was quickly placed in her palm, lid already off. Her fingers might have been starting to gnarl, but they were still quick. A couple of dots of the stuff were smeared under each of his eyes and blended in, suddenly making him look like a well-rested, healthy man.
"Alright, alright!" she exclaimed suddenly, causing him to jerk and nearly crash into the mirror. The three grabbed him again, pushing him down a hallway to the side and through a door. He was suddenly thrust in front of a decent-sized crowd and the room was set up like a classic wedding chapel. The pews were lined with expectant faces and capped in ribbons. Numbly, his feet took him to stand in front of the floral arch that the officiant stood beneath.
The room continued to list back and forth, to the point that Theo wondered when they'd gotten on a boat. That would be silly, but if these were advertisements for themed weddings, maybe their specialties were nautical nuptials? Nah, it was more that his whole center of gravity couldn't decide where it wanted to settle. It seemed passing out was inevitable until the music suddenly hit an alarming organ tone, indicating the bride was coming. Carefully he turned his head to search for her but he had by no means been prepared for what would greet his peculiar eyes.
He wasn't the only one that cleaned up well. Aspen was a vision in her long, strapless dress and high ponytail. It was simple but effective, and quite a shock. Theo forgot about his own panic for a few moments, standing there and gazing at her with a slightly slack jaw. She was...stunning. Had he ever seen her without some sort of oversized jacket on? Even as she came to stand across from him, he couldn't seem to quite get over his surprise. Snapping his mouth shut, he managed a sheepish, nervous smile at the gun enthusiast across from him, though his cheeks were betraying him by glowing red.
"We have gathered here today..." the man under the arch began the abbreviated ceremony, but those were the only words the derpy man heard. Theo, still a bit dizzy but much more sturdy than before, winked at Aspen as if to ease whatever nerves she might have. Funny, since it seemed his own nerves were probably worse than hers. "You look pretty," he whispered, unsure when he'd reached for her hands. Internally, the emotionally damaged treasure hunter balked at his own words. How dare he?! He might not have shown it on his face, but internally Theo was a mess. How dare he let himself think about her that way. Being her friend was risk to her enough. He was a hazard to peoples' healths. A curse. Was it okay to notice how cute and pretty she was? Probably not. Surely he wasn't allowed this. He killed Tomoe and with Rin gone only around a year, how scummy was he for even allowing himself to notice another woman?
He was the worst.
But his words were nonetheless true. Aspen was pretty. As much as he'd avoided it with as much effort as he could muster, today was the day he had to admit it to himself. Her smirks were endearing, her laugh was infectious, and it was funny to hear her Pergrande accent juxtapositioned with his Desiertan one. Aspen was different than any girl he'd known before. She was a little rough around the edges and existed on coffee and hot chocolate. She was appealing to him, possibly even more so in her usual clothes than this fancy getup. Theo wasn't a fancy man, as seen by his trusty tracksuits and dusty old boots. Yes, he loved riches and wealth, but not the lifestyle that came with it. The pair could be comfortable together. In the end, he'd always be selfish with his desires, but he'd fight it for as long as he could if only to keep her safe. With any luck, she'd reject him and make it easier for both of them.
The ceremony wrapped up quickly and suddenly everyone was clapping, urging the bride and groom to seal the deal in what was the most exciting part of the ritual. Theo blinked rapidly, eyes darting around as his mind was brought back to the present. The officiant cleared his throat, discreetly nodding toward the girl and puckering his lips. Right, the kiss. OH CRAP, the KISS!
In a moment of sheer panic, his mind shut off and he did exactly as he knew was expected at the end of a wedding. Even though he had just been running through all the reasons this was a bad idea and how he wasn't going to ever give Aspen even the slightest hint that he could view her as more than a friend, his rushing blood drowned out the clapping and he leaned down to her, placing his lips gently on hers.