Will fidgeted with the napkin that once held his silverware, folding it and unfolding it as the seconds ticked away. He felt the cameras on him and that made him feel like the uneasy schoolboy he'd once been, with his unruly curls and face full of pimples. He sighed and finally draped the napkin across his lap, his mind playing over the phone call he'd made the night before. His Uncle Rupert had been surprised to even receive a call from his nephew, not to mention the utter confusion he'd been thrust into when Will requested they meet tomorrow at a restaurant neither of them had ever been to.
"Oh, and, uh, there's gonna be cameras," Will mentioned quickly near the end of their phone call.
"What? Cameras? Will, what do you-"
"Sorry, gotta go." He wasn't proud of hanging up on his uncle right then, but he'd been given explicit instructions not to mention too much about why they were meeting. This time, the camera crew wanted a genuine reaction from Rupert.
Now, a real reaction was what they were going to get. There was a flurry of motion and Will overheard from one of the assistants that Rupert had arrived - as requested, Will had given them a description of the car he drove. It was hard to miss; not many 1963 Citroën DSes still out on the road. From what he could tell, they were fitting him with a mic now. His poor uncle was undoubtedly terribly confused.
He straightened in his seat when he spotted his uncle walking into the restaurant behind the accompanying producer. His face was a mask of bewilderment. Will moved the napkin and stood up from the table. As the producer had earlier suggested, he reached out to hug his uncle. They embraced awkwardly, the cameras capturing every uncomfortable "Right, then."
"Have a seat. I ordered you some scotch on the rocks," Will said, taking his seat across from Rupert.
"So, what's all this about, Will?" Rupert asked, cutting quickly to the chase. He peered at his nephew over his glasses, taking in the other man's unsettled body language.
"Well... Rupes, I have something to tell you."
"Oh Lord." Rupert leaned back in his seat, his mind automatically thinking the worst. Was this one of those intervention shows? Was his nephew about to reveal a horrible drug habit, or perhaps a strange addiction, like that one odd show on TLC? Oh, God, he hoped his nephew wasn't eating drywall. He didn't have the tools to handle that. He lifted up his glass to take a sip.
"I'm getting married in two weeks."
Rupert choked on his scotch, setting the glass down quickly. He wiped at his mouth and sputtered,
"I'm getting married." Will tried to smile, though his hands busied themselves with the napkin on the table.
"To whom?" Rupert asked, trying to stay as calm as possible. He knew his nephew was a private sort of man, but really, he would have known if he was dating anyone.
"I've signed on to a show called Married At First Sight," Will said quietly. He gestured towards the cameras, sure they would cut out this part. "I haven't... I haven't actually met my, er, fiancee."
Rupert blinked. He knew that the reason behind the cameras had to be something bizarre, but he hadn't been prepared for that. "You don't know her?"
Will shook his head. "I signed up to have others make the match for me. Experts." He smirked to himself.
"So you're going to have an arranged marriage?"
Will frowned to himself. He hadn't thought of it that way, but, sure, he guessed that's what it was. And arranged marriages worked out all the time, right? "Yeah, I s'pose so."
"Well." Rupert picked up his napkin and wiped at his mouth, taking a long moment before saying anything else. He took another long sip of scotch. "This is a surprise."
"I know it is, and I was wondering, since I don't really know anyone else here..." He cleared his throat and shifted in his seat. He wasn't used to being emotionally vulnerable with his uncle, and it made him feel all too seen. "I was wondering if you'd... if you'd be my best man."
"Well, I-" Rupert was taken aback by this question, but after a moment, he broke out into a thin-lipped smile. "Of course, Will. But I do have some concerns."
"I figured you would." Will smiled with his tongue tucked behind his teeth. "Lemme have it."
"What do you know about this woman?"
"Well, nothing, really," Will admitted. "It's all based on personality and compatibility. I don't even know her name."
Rupert let this sink in and he slowly shook his head. This generation never ceased to surprise him. "And it's all going to be documented, I assume?"
Will nodded. "That's more or less the point, yeah."
"And you're sure you want to undergo this? Will, you will get little to no privacy. Is that really how you want to start a marriage?"
Will sighed. It wasn't, but he couldn't very well admit that on camera. So he shrugged. "I'll make it work."
Rupert raised an eyebrow, and then sighed in surrender. "You know you have my support, Will. I only wish your mother was here."
Something in Will's chest tightened. He looked down at his empty plate. "I know," he murmured. He wished she could be here, too. He couldn't believe he was really going to get married without his mother there.
Buffy took a long sip of her rum punch, her eyes scanning the restaurant yet again. Her mom had agreed to meet for lunch, seeing that the restaurant they'd chosen was only a few short blocks from her gallery downtown. Her sister, Dawn, had also agreed, having been all too happy to skip an afternoon of classes over at UC Sunnydale. When she mentioned on the phone that there would be cameras, her mom pressed her further with questions, while Dawn simply said "Cool."
Dawn arrived first. She strolled into the restaurant with a big smile on her face, thrilled to be surrounded by cameras. She gave her sister a one-armed hug before sitting down across from her. "What's going on?" she asked.
Buffy knew she couldn't say anything until her mother got there, so she just smiled. "Good to see you," she said.
"My sister's gonna be on TV," Dawn singsonged with a toothy grin. "Hey, I'm gonna be on TV! How cool is that?"
Buffy rolled her eyes but couldn't help smiling. "Welcome to reality television." She looked up just in time to see her mother walk in, dark sunglasses perched on top of her perfectly coiffed blonde hair. Buffy stood as her mother, Joyce, approached and stretched out her arms for her.
"Oh, Buffy! It's good to see you," she said.
"You too, Mom," Buffy said against Joyce's hair. They separated and took their seats.
"So, I bet you're both wondering why I asked you here today," Buffy said nervously. She twirled her straw in her rum punch, anxiety rising within her. "I have some news."
"No shit," Dawn muttered under her breath. Buffy shot her a hard look.
"Okay. I guess I'll just get to it," Buffy said. She plastered a smile onto her face. She'd thought over this admission countless times in the past twenty-four hours, but now that it was time to finally out with it, she felt tongue-tied. "Um... Mom, Dawn, I'm getting married."
Dawn's jaw dropped and Joyce frowned and crossed her arms. "Married?" Dawn repeated.
Buffy shrank back in her seat a bit. "Yep. In two weeks."
Dawn's stunned expression turned into a wide smile. "That's so cool!" she squealed.
"What do you mean you're getting married?" Joyce asked, clearly having trouble with the concept.
"Well..." Buffy looked towards the cameras briefly. "I signed up for a show called Married At First Sight."
Dawn almost shrieked. "Ohmigod, I love that show!"
"Married at first..." Joyce repeated. "What does that mean?"
"Well... I got matched with a husband. But I don't exactly know him." Buffy's voice died down towards the end of the sentence, unsure of how her mother would react.
Dawn didn't hide her reaction, clapping and squealing. "This is gonna be so cool! Oh my god, can I be a bridesmaid?"
Buffy smiled then. "Of course. I want you both to be in the wedding, silly."
"You don't know him?" Joyce repeated after a long pause. "What do you mean you don't know him?"
"We got matched together," Buffy explained. "By a marriage and family therapist, a sociologist, and, um... oh, a pastor. We did all these questionnaires and this whole interview process. And here we are." Buffy raised her hands as if she had something to show.
"Buffy, this man could be anybody. What if he has a criminal record?"
Buffy sighed. "Mom, I'm sure the experts wouldn't let, like, a serial killer go on their show. They have pretty strong restrictions."
Joyce placed a hand on her chest and looked down at the table in shock. "I just don't know how to take this. My baby's getting married to a stranger!"
"I know it's weird. But, Mom, this is what I want to do. I'm ready to be with somebody. I'm ready to try again."
Joyce slowly lowered her hand and sighed through her nose. "This is a lot to take in, Buffy."
"I know," Buffy said in a small voice. "But try to be happy for me, Mom. I'm getting married."
Joyce reached over and gripped her daughter's hand. "And you really want to do this?" she asked. "I don't want to see you heartbroken again, Buffy. I really don't."
"I know." Buffy felt tears springing to her eyes, but she blinked them back. "I don't want that either, Mom. But I have to take a chance sometime. If not, I'll seriously end up an agoraphobe with no social life whatsoever."
Her mom chuckled at that and patted her daughter's hand. "Well, we don't want that, do we?" She sighed and leaned back in her chair. "Where's the waitress? I could use a drink."