Timing was important, Yata had decided. You just couldn't rush the big things. It required patience. Careful planning. Easing into it. And then, once you had all that stuff figured out and had dropped hints and gauged reactions... then the question had to be asked in a confident, cool way.
That was why his food was currently getting cold on the plate in front of him as he watched his boyfriend delicately pick over his own plate. He needed to find a good way to start this.
Timing. Patience. Easing.
Saruhiko moved his chopsticks as if to pick up another piece of meat, and then carefully lowered them until they were nearly parallel with his plate. He clicked his tongue. "Why are you sitting there scowling at me?"
"Eh?" Yata blinked, caught off-guard. As he met that cool-eyed, unimpressed gaze, irritation set in. "I'm not scowling at you!"
Without bothering to answer that, Saruhiko reached into the pocket of his work pants, pulled out his PDA, and snapped a picture. Then he turned the device around so that the screen pointed at Yata and his own face frowned back at him from the small viewing area. "What do you call that?"
Yata felt his eyebrows come down and looked up from the PDA to his boyfriend's face. "I'm fucking scowling now, you bastard! Did you have to do that?"
"Who knows." The response was typically airy; Saruhiko unhurriedly tucked the PDA back into his pocket. "It's better than sitting here putting on a show for you while I try to eat."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." He slouched back in his seat, shooting a last glare across the table as he reached for his chopsticks. "I wasn't scowling at you."
"If you say so."
Silence fell between them again, punctuated only by the soft 'ch' Yata let out as he turned to his plate and then the sound of chewing and swallowing.
Easing into it, right? He considered that, slowly gathering bite-sized mouthfuls and eating half-heartedly. The food was lukewarm now. Maybe he should just innocently bring up the topic. Make it about someone else, like 'Y'know, Kamamoto was thinking of doing it - what do you think of that?' Or casual and offhand, like 'Hey, I happened to overhear these people talking about it, so I thought I'd bring it up.'
Plenty of options, really.
All right. Yata straightened in his seat, momentarily gathering himself. I'm gonna do this. "So," he started - and his mind went completely blank. "Uh..."
Saruhiko had lowered his chopsticks again, looking up at Yata expectantly. He still wore his work shirt, without the jacket and with the vest undone, and even with the wariness in his gaze, he looked comfortable. At home, even.
Well... this was their home, but sometimes it really struck Yata just how much they'd built between them after everything. They were together now. Closer than ever. Completely open and comfortable - well, mostly. Like a - a family. A tiny, aggressive, two-person family.
Really, he just wanted to make that official.
So, when his mind blanked and then Saruhiko just looked at him like that... All the reminders flooded in to stir up the feelings that had prompted this whole thing to begin with, and Yata found himself blurting out, "I want to get married!"
The silence that fell after those words escaped was almost electric.
Saruhiko blinked at him, clearly startled, and Yata found himself frozen, too anxious to even breathe as he waited for some reaction. As the stillness and the quiet stretched out, though, he couldn't hold it in any more. "That is - I mean - fuck, I just - "
Damnit... It definitely wasn't how he'd planned to ask. That was so uncool...
"Ah," Saruhiko said after a few seconds, interrupting the stream of stammered half-excuses. He blinked twice more in rapid succession, as if he still didn't quite believe the situation was real, and then frowned. "Why?"
The unexpected question was enough to snap him back from the edge of panic. Yata blinked, staring at his boyfriend. "Hah?" He frowned back, raising an eyebrow. "What d'you mean 'why'? The same reasons anyone wants to!"
If anything, Saruhiko looked less impressed; his frown deepened and his eyes narrowed. "What reasons would those be?"
Is he for real? Yata felt his brow furrow. Sometimes it was hard to tell when Saruhiko was just trying to jerk him around. "Are you actually serious right now? You don't know why people decide to get married?"
It was the wrong question to ask; he could see it almost as soon as the words were out of his mouth. Saruhiko's expression seemed to shutter into cool withdrawal. His mouth set and he turned his gaze away almost sullenly. "Why should I know a useless thing like that?"
A sudden, vivid memory of his first - and only - trip into that large, empty house that seemed to lack any kind of sign that a family lived there flashed back into Yata's head, and whatever frustration he might've instinctively responded with dissolved in an instant. He swallowed, studying his boyfriend's profile, and then took in a breath. "Because... because they love each other, and want to be together for life. That's why."
Saruhiko glanced back up at him warily. "You don't need to get married for that."
It would've been easy to miss the play of emotion in that hooded gaze, but Yata had gotten back into the habit in the two years they'd been dating - not to mention the months of rebuilding their friendship prior to that. He straightened a bit, feeling a small burst of hope with that response. He's thinking about it... "Yeah, but getting married means you make a vow to that person, right? It's a way to say you're really serious about each other."
"It's not the only way." Saruhiko was facing him again fully, eyes intent, as if waiting for something specific. "It's not like we need something like that to be serious."
"Yeah, but... well, you know." It was kind of embarrassing to say it all, but he was going to have to if he wanted this to go anywhere. Yata scratched the back of his head, letting out a sharp breath before continuing. "Don't you think it'd be nice to make it totally clear to everyone? That you're mine and I'm yours, and we're gonna be together for life?"
He caught the slight waver in those eyes, just before Saruhiko clicked his tongue and turned his gaze aside. "I guess it would be handy to have the hospital visitation rights," he muttered, "in case you do something stupid and get yourself hurt."
The little ball of anxiety that had been forming in Yata's stomach broke apart at that; he felt a wave of giddy relief rush all the way through him, and couldn't help but grin, elated. "So then that's a 'yes', right?"
Saruhiko's mouth twitched, and two spots of color rose on his cheeks. "You don't need to repeat the obvious, idiot."
Somehow, that irritable response brought on a warm surge of affection. Can't help it with this guy, huh? Yata felt his smile widen, watching across the table for a moment, and then abruptly pushed himself up.
It earned him a slightly suspicious look, especially as he walked around the table and stopped beside his boyfriend's - fiance's - chair. "What are you doing?"
"We gotta seal the deal, right?" It felt a bit awkward to just lean down - with the height difference, usually it was the other way around, and the position was a bit off - so Yata braced a hand on Saruhiko's shoulder and bent to tilt his head meaningfully.
He was gratified when the kiss was met partway, the warm, familiar feel of Saruhiko's lips against his easing the remains of his anxiety. When he pulled back and opened his eyes, their gazes locked and he felt closer than ever. "Thank you," he managed, feelings welling up in a pleasant ache at the back of his throat and making it difficult to talk, "Saruhiko."
We're seriously getting married. After everything they'd been through... Somehow, just the thought had his heart pounding and his eyes prickling. The two of us. Together. It was almost unreal - but it was really happening.
The corners of Saruhiko's mouth edged up into a smirk. "Don't tell me you're going to cry, Misaki."
"Shut up!" It came out suspiciously gruff; Yata instinctively scrubbed a hand along the corners of his eyes, trying to recover his pride. "I should be fucking crying, anyway - I'm gonna be stuck with you from now on."
"You were the one who said you wanted to be together for life," Saruhiko reminded him, lowering his lids in that teasing manner that at some point during their years of dating had started to cause hot shudders to run down Yata's spine. "Shouldn't you be a bit more honest, Misaki?"
He scowled back half-heartedly. "I don't want to hear that from you."
Saruhiko hummed lightly, and he let his lashes veil his eyes with deliberate slowness. "How about I show you how honest I can be?" He plucked Yata's hand from his shoulder and brought it to his mouth, palm facing inward. "Misaki," he murmured, lips brushing the sensitive skin even as hot breath washed over it.
It suddenly felt very warm. Yata swallowed, staring at his boyfriend. "You're... you're done eating?"
He could feel the smirk widening; when Saruhiko raised his lashes, his gaze was wicked. "That depends," he drawled, pushing out his seat and turning his legs so that they were facing each other, "what's on the menu tonight."
The heat that had been climbing up along Yata's neck rose up to his face at that - which was probably exactly what Saruhiko had been going for, the bastard. "I'll - I'll fucking eat you first, jerk," he muttered, cursing himself for being so easily affected.
"If you say so." The hand was lowered, and that smirk was aimed up at him again. "I'll believe it when I see it, Mi~sa~ki..."
The urge to kiss that look off of his face was a little too strong to resist. "Shut up," Yata growled, leaning down to once again capture those lips with his.
Everything else could wait for later.
The apartment they shared wasn't large, but it did have a bedroom rather than just being one open space with an attached unit bath, which was something Fushimi appreciated when he needed space to himself. Misaki was almost never in the bedroom unless he was getting changed or sleeping, so Fushimi kept his laptop in there and retreated whenever he wanted time alone.
There had been times, back in the beginning as they were re-learning how to live with each other, when they'd fought and then gone to bed tense and angry, backs facing each other and breathing painfully audible in the uneasy silence. It wasn't like their Homra days, when Fushimi could climb up to his loft and distance himself physically. The shared bed was a firm reminder of how much things had changed, and exactly what the cost was if they couldn't resolve their differences.
Well... I guess it couldn't be helped, after everything. Fushimi sat down on the side of the bed, eyeing the little table next to it with its worn drawer. There were painful things in their history that couldn't ever be erased. All the talking in the world didn't stop Misaki's fingers from trembling when they brushed over the scar on Fushimi's chest. And there were times when Misaki's thoughtless enthusiasm drove him right out of the apartment because he couldn't even stand to look at the most important person in his life for one second more.
Somehow, those fleeting moments of anxiety and pain made even the mediocre times in their lives feel precious. These days, they made sure not to go to bed angry.
Another step forward, huh?
Speaking of which... Fushimi reached out for the handle on the drawer in front of him, hesitating for just a second before clicking his tongue and pulling it open. The small box they'd brought back with them earlier that day was still sitting in the same spot.
He hadn't exactly expected it to be somewhere else, but... Well, it didn't matter. Fushimi glanced back at the doorway - he could still hear Misaki in the kitchen making dinner, but it didn't hurt to be careful - before lifting the box and bringing it forward so that he could open the lid for a better look at the contents.
The two plain rings they'd picked out seemed to wink back at him as the light reflected off the smooth silver surfaces. They were plated white gold, nothing terribly expensive, but the simple design was something they'd both been able to agree on. No ridiculous decorations, no inscriptions, and no overpriced metals. Just a very simple, very basic set of tokens with no real meaning attached.
It shouldn't have been something to dwell on at all.
Misaki's words still sounded clear in his head: "you're mine and I'm yours, and we're gonna be together for life". Fushimi ran a finger delicately over the band that was his. It was slightly smaller than the one belonging to Misaki, whose fingers were wider despite his hands being shorter than Fushimi's. He'd tried it on a total of once, to make sure the size was right, and hadn't so much as glanced at it since.
Well, until now.
This is just to get a closer look. He was going to be wearing it every day in the future, so it made sense to get familiar with the idea.
Somehow, that thought was strangely satisfying. Every day. An insignificant little token, but...
Fushimi pulled the ring from its slot in the box, holding it between his finger and thumb gingerly as he turned it around. It had been polished until it gleamed, but that would change, in time. As he wore it, it would be exposed to every speck of dirt and every germ his hand came into contact with. The surface would grow dull, and it wouldn't catch the light with such stark perfection - but...
"I want to get married!"
... This was still going to be the symbol of his most precious person's desire to be with him forever.
The reality of that still felt like it hadn't quite sunk in, even now, but the doubts were mostly silent. Fushimi suppressed a little rush of cautious pleasure at the thought. It's not like I didn't know already. He turned the ring over, sliding one finger along the smooth curve of it almost absently.
"Heeeeh. What's this?" Misaki's voice startled him out of his reverie; when he jerked his gaze up, his boyfriend was smirking at him from the doorway, arms crossed and looking insufferably smug. "I thought you didn't care about this wedding stuff, huh?"
How annoying. He felt warmth rising on across his cheeks and turned his gaze away, clicking his tongue.
"What, nothing to say?" Misaki crossed the room with confident steps, and the bed shifted as he sank down next to Fushimi, leaning in to bump their shoulders together. "I totally didn't guess you'd get all sentimental over this crap, y'know, Saruhiko..."
Fushimi scowled, still not looking at him. "Shup up," he mumbled, irritated with himself for being careless. If he hadn't let himself get so distracted, Misaki wouldn't have been able to sneak up on him in the first place.
"Huh? Why should I? Not like it's a bad thing, right?" Misaki plucked the box from his hand; when Fushimi glanced up at him again, warily, he grinned back. "You should've just gone ahead and put it on. Here." He pulled his own ring out, set the box in his lap, and slid it right onto his finger without hesitation, beaming down at it with obvious pleasure. "See? Being excited about it is no big deal."
There was a sort of appeal in seeing it like that, on Misaki's finger. I'm yours and you're mine. Fushimi's throat felt strangely thick. And we'll be together for life.
All at once, it was easier to breathe. "I'm not the one collecting color swatches," he pointed out lightly, and allowed himself a small smile as Misaki turned to him with a scowl.
I think it'll be a life worth living.
In between visits, Yata sometimes found himself forgetting all the little details of his family's home. The feeling of being crammed in due to the small amount of space and sheer pile-up of stuff owned by the four people who still lived there. The smell of home cooking and air freshener mingling together. The still, stuffy air that hung around even in the cooler weather.
... Minoru being at least three inches taller than him at seventeen years old.
I definitely don't fucking remember THAT being a thing...
Still, after a moment of surprise, his younger brother's face brightened. "Onii-chan!"
He actually sounded like an adult, too, which was disconcerting. Yata managed a small, rueful smile. "Yo, Minoru."
"And Saru's here, too, huh?" Minoru grinned, tossing out the familiar nickname from his childhood casually. He turned as he stepped aside to let them in and yelled out, "Mom! Onii-chan and Saru are here!"
"Really?" The familiar voice hit Yata's ears just seconds before his mother came into view, hastily wiping her hands on the apron around her waist. She broke into a wide smile when she saw him and rushed forward to envelop him in a hug, as if he was still a kid. "Misaki! This is a surprise!"
"Yeah." Right, he probably should've called first. Yata patted her back, feeling a bit awkward about it. "Uh, sorry."
"Oh, it's fine! I'm happy to see you!" She pulled back, holding him at arms' length, and gave him a critical look. "You really should visit like this more often. It feels like we never see you!"
Somehow, even as an adult her scoldings made him squirm. "Right, yeah, sorry. Been busy. You know..."
"Oh, Saruhiko-kun!" His mother was already bustling past him; when he turned, she was pulling a very stiff-looking Saruhiko into a hug. "It's so nice to see you - Misaki almost never brings you around for visits, it's such a shame... Come on in and sit down - I'll get some tea going. Do you like barley?"
Saruhiko's eyes rose and met Yata's, and he had to fight to hold back a grin at the unspoken 'what am I supposed to do now?' in them. You're still not used to that, huh? "Barley's good, Mom."
"Oh, good." She released Saruhiko, giving him a last, warm smile, and moved past Yata again. "Just go ahead and sit down in the family room, you two," drifted back after her as she re-entered the kitchen.
Minoru trailed after her. "Is there any more cake, Mom?"
"You just had some less than an hour ago! And we'll be having dinner soon, too!"
"I'm still hungry..."
"Honestly, Minoru - you're like a bottomless pit these days! Where are you putting it all?"
The sound of their voices was pretty nostalgic. Yata grinned to himself, kicking off his shoes and stepping out of the entranceway before turning back to his fiance again. "Shoulda seen your expression - you looked like you were gonna shit bricks or something."
Saruhiko shot him an irritated look, removing his shoes carefully. "Shut up," he mumbled. "Your family is always like this."
"What, awesome?" Yata moved on ahead of him, into the tiny family room. It was the same as always - the tatami floors and tiny round table - with light and cool air streaming in through the open window. He and Minoru had shared it on their futons at night, back in the day. "I know."
"More like... a natural disaster," Saruhiko murmured, folding down beside him cross-legged on the tatami. Even just the motion was nostalgic. Like home.
He missed this place, sometimes...
"Yeah, yeah." Yata poked his fiance in the side. "To a bastard like you who hates everyone, maybe."
There wasn't really a chance for Saruhiko to respond, because Yata's mother strode into the room right at that moment, carrying a tray with the steaming teapot and cups. Megumi trailed after her, a skinny 13-year-old with her hair pulled back from her face with clips, carrying two small plates with cake on them. Her face noticeably reddened when she caught sight of Saruhiko.
That reaction had started about a year back, and Yata hadn't decided if it was more amusing or annoying.
Seriously, don't fall for a guy like this.
"Sorry for the wait!" his mother apologized cheerfully, dropping to her knees and setting the tray down on the table beside them. She began to organize the cups with a comfortable ease. "Do you want one of the bigger cups, Saruhiko-kun?"
"I'll have one," Minoru chimed in, wedging past Megumi, who seemed to want to just hover awkwardly in the doorway with her plates. He was casually eating a piece of cake from his fingers.
"Don't speak with your mouth full," his mother chided him, and offered a forbidding frown. "And get a plate, Minoru; honestly, are you a child? Megumi, don't stand in the doorway - come on in and give your brother and Saruhiko-kun their cake."
Megumi gave a nervous little jolt, stepping into the room stiffly as Minoru let out an aggravated huff and went off in the opposite direction. She came up to about a foot away from Saruhiko and abruptly bowed her head forward, thrusting both plates of cake towards him. "H-Here!" she squeaked.
You have gotta be fucking kidding me...
Saruhiko stared dubiously at the plates, and then glanced back at Yata, raising an eyebrow as if to ask 'what the heck is this?'
Ah, shit, whatever... "Thanks, Megumi!" He reached over Saruhiko and took both plates, grinning back at his sister's chagrinned face as if he hadn't noticed anything out of place, and offered one to his fiance. "Looks great, right, Saruhiko?"
The plate was taken from him almost warily. "It's fine."
Yata's mother had just finished pouring the tea; she set the pot down and smiled up at them. "Let me know if you want anything else - we've also got cookies, if you'd prefer."
"Nah, it's okay." Really, it was about time he got around to what he'd come here for. There was no point in waiting for his step-father, either, since his work hours were sometimes late. Yata cleared his throat, suddenly feeling a little nervous. His family knew all about their relationship, of course, but still... "Anyway, I - uh, we, I guess - wanted to tell you something."
"Oh?" His mother looked up at him with a keen interest. Her gaze drifted to Saruhiko and then back to him; she sat back with an air of expectancy. "What is it?"
"Eh, well..." Now that it came down to it, this was kind of embarrassing. Yata straightened as much as he could, hoping to project some confidence. "Saruhiko and I, we're - uh - we're - that is - we - "
" - are getting married," Saruhiko finished for him, in a straight tone that was almost deadpan. When Yata jerked his gaze in that direction, his fiance was deliberately looking away from all of them. "What?" he muttered. "If I hadn't said it, we'd be waiting all night for you."
Yata's mother sucked in a sharp breath, and all of Yata's nerves returned as he turned to look at her again. Her eyes had gone wide. Behind her, Minoru was hovering in the doorway, one cheek bulging as he'd stopped in mid-chew. Yata was aware of Megumi fidgeting beside Saruhiko but couldn't see her face from that angle for a reaction. Really, what was more important was...
"You two!" His mother's face split into a teary smile; all at once, she was leaning across the table and wrapping an arm around each of them, pulling their faces down onto her shoulders. "Getting married!" She sniffed loudly, her hold tightening. "This is wonderful! I'm so happy for you!"
Yata wasn't sure if relief or discomfort was stronger - he was glad that she was happy, of course, but the position was really awkward... "O-Oi, Mom..."
She pulled back, beaming at them again with her eyes noticeably wet. "I forgot to say it - but congratulations, of course! Have you set a date?"
He traded a quick glance with Saruhiko. They'd sort of talked about it, but... "N-Not yet. We're thinking maybe summer...?"
"Oh, that soon?" She blinked, a little taken aback. "A wedding in just a few months?"
Yata rubbed awkwardly at the back of his neck. "It's not... gonna be anything big. Like, do the official stuff really quick, have some drinks... maybe food or cake or something, I dunno..."
"Oh, Misaki..." His mother shook her head at him, letting out a little sigh. She was still smiling, but it looked almost pitying. "We'll talk, all right? Oh. Unless..." She turned a questioning expression on his fiance. "Saruhiko-kun, does your mother know yet?"
Yata noticed the tension working its way into Saruhiko's shoulders at that, although his face remained impassive. He was quiet for one brief but noticeable second and then answered, "No. I'm not in contact with her."
The shift in the mood was so obvious that Yata thought he could choke on it. But, somehow, his mother seemed to know just how to deal with it. "Oh, I'm sorry - that's too bad." She reached out to pat Saruhiko's shoulder kindly. "Well, you can consider our family yours from now on, of course."
The expression on Saruhiko's face seemed to be a mix of surprise and perplexity. "... Yeah," he answered after a moment, slow and cautious.
Something in Yata's chest grew warm at that; he couldn't help but smile a little to himself. This was the person he was marrying, and they would be each other's family. He wanted to give Saruhiko everything - all the things he hadn't had before.
I really fucking love this guy, seriously...
"Oh! You two are staying for dinner, right?" His mother held up her PDA to check the time. "I still have quite a bit to do, but you can relax here for as long as you want - you'll be the guests of honor." She rose quickly to her feet, still smiling brightly at them. "Plus, your father will want to hear the news when he gets home..."
It was kind of predictable that she'd offer. Yata nodded back, letting the smile on his own face widen into a grin. "Yeah, of course!"
"Good!" She quickly turned to move back into the kitchen. "Minoru, set two extra places, please!"
"Okay!" Yata's younger brother turned to grin back at him, holding up his fingers in a 'V' shape. "Onii-chan, congrats!"
The reactions so far were as good as he'd been hoping for. "Thanks!"
Megumi leaned in to put her elbows on the table as Minoru left the room. Her expression was slightly awed; she glanced from Yata to Saruhiko and back again, blinking slowly, and asked in a small voice, "Are you really going to get married?"
"That's right." He softened his smile a little.
The shyness from before seemed to have dissipated a little; there was a sparkle in her eyes as she stared at them. "Will one of you wear the dress?"
Yata choked a little at that. "Ha - what - ?"
"He will," Saruhiko answered without inflection, picking up his teacup and raising it to his lips.
"The fuck?" Yata turned to scowl at him, feeling his ears grow hot. "Like hell I will!"
"Misaki!" his mother's voice called back, sharply. "Language!"
Shit. With one final glare for his fiance, Yata drew in a breath and faced his sister, who was watching him with wide eyes. "Neither one of us is wearing a dress, okay?"
Her shoulders sagged. "Oh..."
Saruhiko lowered the cup, glancing sideways with a little smirk on his lips. "Are you really going to disappoint your sister like that, Misaki?"
Yata glowered at him. "Shut up," he muttered, darkly. Don't even fucking joke, you bastard! Turning back to Megumi again, he added, "Anyway, you can just wear one yourself, right?"
She seemed to brighten a little at that. "Really?"
"Yeah, really." Whatever kept her away from that stupid idea.
"Megumi!" his mother's voice called, before anything else could be added. "Come and wash the rice for me!"
Yata waited until his sister had left the room before fixing his fiance with a disgruntled stare. "Asshole."
"You're the one who wants to marry me," Saruhiko pointed out, meeting his eyes with unruffled ease.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Yata let out a huff of breath, and then sobered up a bit as he remembered the moment from earlier. "Hey..." He studied his fiance's face seriously, watching for some kind of reaction. "Is it really okay? To not tell your mother, I mean?"
Saruhiko frowned, abruptly turning his gaze down to the cup in his hands. It was almost possible to see a slight waver in his eyes, but Yata wasn't really sure if he was imagining it or not. "There's no way she'd come."
When he was like this, it was kind of hard to read him. Yata shifted just a bit closer, so their shoulders almost touched. Either way, we're doing it. Either way, I'll be your family, so you can just think about yourself. "Would you want her to?"
Saruhiko was quiet for what seemed like a long moment, staring fixedly down at the cup. His cake was still sitting in front of him, untouched. Then, finally, he tilted his head back a ways, shut his eyes, and let out a breath. When he turned to meet Yata's gaze, his expression was almost tired. "I wouldn't."
Without hesitating, Yata reached out to cover Saruhiko's hand with his, managing a small smile. "Okay."
That hung in the air between them for a second, and then Saruhiko slowly turned his hand so that their fingers could lace together.
Neither one of them spoke again until they were joined in the room, but the silence didn't feel oppressive at all.
It was going to be too much of a pain to just bring it up, Fushimi decided, frowning down at the reminder on his PDA. He'd end up having to go up and talk to each person, make some sort of small talk, and bring up the question. And then, of course, they'd want to discuss it, because god forbid a conversation end within a reasonable amount of time.
He was getting tired just thinking about it.
It doesn't matter how I do it, though... In the end, the result was the same. Fushimi brought up Scepter 4's private messaging system and began to draft his message. This is the easiest way.
Hopefully, most people would just reply to the message with a simple 'yes' or 'no' rather than pestering him.
"Fushimi." Awashima's stern voice cut into his thoughts as he finished typing. "What are you doing?"
He looked up from the PDA as she strode across the room to his station, and clicked his tongue. What timing... "Sending a message."
Her expression was disapproving - surprise, surprise - but she didn't comment. "If you're free, I need you to take on some of the reports from last week's arrests."
Wonderful. Fushimi frowned back at her. "Is there some reason the team who handled it can't finish them?"
"Several of them are still recovering with injuries." She braced her hands on her hips, offering a long-suffering look - as if the question were some kind of bother to her. "The only person cleared for duty right now seems to be a bit overwhelmed by the workload."
Can't be helped, then. It was still irritating, though. Fushimi clicked his tongue again. "All right." Turning back to the message, he gave it a quick scan and then hit the 'send' button. "Put them on my desk and I'll go through them."
"I'll have someone - " She paused, reaching into her pocket in response to the buzz from her PDA. Her eyebrows furrowed when she opened it - and then went up. When she looked up again, her expression was startled. "Fushimi... you..."
He raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"Fushimi-san!" Hidaka stood up, walking towards them with a smile on his face. "Congratulations!"
"Whoa! You're seriously getting married?" Doumyouji chimed in, turning in his seat to goggle at him. "Like, for real?"
"Why didn't you say anything, Fushimi-san?"
"I'll definitely make it!"
"July 7th... Wow, that's soon!"
"Tanabata wedding, too - lucky!"
"Fushimi-san, that's awesome!"
The unexpected burst of activity had him staring around the room, nonplussed. What? Is everyone here seriously just that bored? Fushimi clicked his tongue a third time. "Haven't any of you heard of the reply function on your messages?" he muttered.
There was a brief pause following that, and then the door behind them abruptly opened. "Fushimi-kun." Munakata stepped inside, smiling magnanimously. "Congratulations on your forthcoming nuptials."
What is he up to now? Fushimi's frown deepened. "Thanks..."
The Blue King looked around at the others, who were now standing in an uncomfortably silent cluster. "I see everyone has come to offer best wishes in the general spirit of things," he observed, nodding to himself. "As expected, the bonds of a close-knit team are strong, indeed."
There was a lengthy, awkward pause.
This is pointless. Fushimi cleared his throat. "I have a lot of work to do, so - "
"Of course, don't let me keep you." Munakata waved a generous hand. "However," he added, pushing his glasses up on his face elegantly, "I thought it might be prudent as your commanding officer to extend the offer of standing up with you during your upcoming cere - "
"No thank you," Fushimi cut him off.
Munakata gracefully brushed that abrupt rejection off. "As you wish. I'll let you get back to your duties, then." He turned as if to move towards the door, and then paused. "Also, if you're looking for someone to officiate - "
"No thank you."
"Getting married, huh?" Chitose rubbed his chin as if in thought, then grinned. "About time."
"Hah? What's that supposed to mean?" Yata crossed his arms, raising an eyebrow at his friend.
"It's his way of saying 'congratulations, we all knew it was coming'," Dewa murmured, from his seat at the bar. He offered a small smile. "Also, congratulations. We all knew it was coming."
"Yeah, congrats, Yata-san!"
"Congrats, or something..."
It would've been hard to keep the grin off his face even if he'd wanted to. Yata felt the rush of warmth building in his chest with every boisterous congratulations and every hand thumping his back in a good-natured way. "Thanks!" He uncrossed his arms, straightening up with a certain amount of pride and confidence. "You're all coming then, right?"
"Of course, Yata-san!" Kamamoto clapped his shoulder again, with enthusiasm. "When is it?"
"Oh. Right." He'd kind of forgotten to mention that, hadn't he? "July 7th."
"Wow, that soon huh?"
"That is pretty soon..."
"July 7th?" Kusanagi suddenly cut into the conversation. He set down the glass he'd been wiping, looking a bit surprised. "Tanabata?"
Yata forced himself to keep meeting that gaze, trying for a casual shrug. He wasn't sure if it was quite successful. "Yeah, that's just kind of how it turned out. Not a big deal, right?"
"Ah, well." His older friend seemed to recover a bit, offering a small, almost rueful smile, as if he'd guessed the intent. "Some people believe that Tanabata is a lucky day for a wedding. Something like 'couples who marry on that day will surely become happy'."
It felt like he was trying to swallow around some kind of lump. "R-Really?" Yata forced a huff of a laugh. "How about that, huh?"
He wasn't sure if Saruhiko would know; if so, he hadn't said anything about it. Anyway, he'd probably think a belief like that was stupid. And, well, yeah, it was pretty stupid. It was just something Yata happened to have found out, really. Plus, it wasn't like he chose the date for that particular reason. It was a mix of their birthdays, and that was it.
It's not like we need something like that to be happy.
Just... if there happened to be some good luck... after everything that had happened between them, it couldn't hurt.
"Good for you, right, Yata-san?" Kamamoto said jovially, and that seemed to ease the tension a bit.
"Y-Yeah. Right?" He managed a grin, looking around at the rest of them. "I guess I'm pretty good at picking dates!"
Kusanagi shrugged at him, good-natured as always, and everyone else seemed to take that as a cue to move on from the subject. Yata was just starting to relax when a light touch at his shoulder made him freeze.
"Misaki," Anna began, gazing into his eyes from almost directly in front of him. Almost. She wasn't as tall as he was yet, but it was starting to get a bit concerning. And, despite the fact that her face had narrowed and matured a bit over the past few years, those eyes of hers were the same: the kind of eyes that saw straight into your soul and observed without judging.
It was enough to make him feel like he'd been caught doing something wrong, at the moment. "Wh-What is it, Anna?"
"You don't need to worry so much." She smiled back, softening the serious expression just slightly. "A good luck charm isn't needed for you and Saruhiko to be happy together. Both of your hearts want it."
He blinked at her. Both of our hearts... It was a truth he'd become certain of, but somehow hearing it - and especially from Anna - felt really good. The tension in his shoulders eased; he couldn't help but smile back, that rush of happiness from the moment when Saruhiko had accepted his proposal seeming to wash back over him. "I know. But" - he reached up to rub at the back of his neck, a little awkwardly - "thanks."
She nodded back, and her expression turned serious again. "Make sure you have a bamboo to hang everyone's wishes on."
The smile on Yata's face shifted naturally to a grin. Yeah, I think I can handle that much. "Leave it to me!"
Yata Misaki: hey what do you think of swatch #53?
Yata Misaki: for wedding?
Yata Misaki: + white?
Fushimi Saruhiko: Swatch #53 is just red.
Yata Misaki: yeah so?
Fushimi Saruhiko: ...
Yata Misaki: what's wrong with red?
Yata Misaki: you pickin a fight or something?
Fushimi Saruhiko: This isn't a Homra party.
Yata Misaki: wtf does that have to do with anything???
Yata Misaki: fine you fucking pick something
Fushimi Saruhiko: Swatch #32.
Yata Misaki: THAT'S FUCKING BLUE YOU ASSHOLE!!!
Fushimi Saruhiko: Oh? And what's wrong with blue, Misaki?
Yata Misaki: fuck you so hard fuc k
Fushimi Saruhiko: Pick something else, then.
Yata Misaki: FUCKING FINE
Yata Misaki: swatch #47
Fushimi Saruhiko: Lilac?
Yata Misaki: NEVER MIND THE NAME GDI
Fushimi Saruhiko: I just find it ironic.
Yata Misaki: WHAT
Fushimi Saruhiko: Beautiful Blossom?
Yata Misaki: i will fucking kill you saru
Fushimi Saruhiko: Empty promises.
Yata Misaki: whatever do you want the purple or not?
Fushimi Saruhiko: It's fine.
Yata Misaki: we gotta have red flowers tho
Yata Misaki: i mean for anna
Fushimi Saruhiko: ... Fine
Yata Misaki: yeah and if you want to add something small in blue say so
Fushimi Saruhiko: Are you sure? There's going to be plenty of blue as it is.
Yata Misaki: huh?
Fushimi Saruhiko: Everyone from Scepter 4 will be in uniform, after all.
Yata Misaki: WTF???
Yata Misaki: WHO DECIDED THAT???
Fushimi Saruhiko: Oh, I didn't mention it?
Yata Misaki: NO YOU FUCKIN DIDN'T YOU DICK
Fushimi Saruhiko: The Captain thinks it will be more formal that way.
Yata Misaki: HE CAN GO FUCK HIMSELF GOD FUCKING DAMNIT
Fushimi Saruhiko: You can try talking to him yourself if you don't like it. He's already told everyone.
Yata Misaki: I FUCKING WILL I'LL PUNCH HIS FUCKING FACE IN FUCKKKK
Fushimi Saruhiko: Best of luck with that...
Yata Misaki: YOU are def not wearing a goddamn uniform
Fushimi Saruhiko: I'm not. Don't be stupid.
Yata Misaki: GOOD
Fushimi Saruhiko: Unless you decide to wear a suit with shorts.
Yata Misaki: fuck off i'm not doing that
Fushimi Saruhiko: You haven't worn pants since junior high school.
Yata Misaki: whatever shorts are comfortable
Yata Misaki: but yeah no suits with shorts that'd be dumb
Fushimi Saruhiko: Are you sure you're not going to go with your sister's suggestion?
Yata Misaki: don't be an asshole
Yata Misaki: you'd look better in it than me
Yata Misaki: you're delicate like a girl
Fushimi Saruhiko: You're the shorter one. Plus, it fits your name.
Yata Misaki: go to hell
Fushimi Saruhiko: I'll bet your mother could find one in lilac, Misaki.
Yata Misaki: seriously fuck you
"This will be the best night of your life - trust me!"
Hidaka's cheerful promise was still quite clear in Fushimi's head as he sat at the end of the table with an untouched can of beer and a heaping plate of anko in front of him. There was some sort of idiotic paper 'crown' that he was apparently required to wear for the night, and it kept slipping forward into his eyes while he browsed on his PDA and tried to ignore the card game going on around him. Technically, he was supposed to be playing the game, but it wasn't fun and it wasn't like he could win anyway, so he was only paying attention when he had to.
This is ridiculous.
Supposedly, the original plan had been to go to some annoying place where there would probably be large amounts of drunk people, loud music, and some kind of 'pre-wedding' antics. That plan had been amended after Fushimi refused the first five invitations to his own bachelor party, and his agreement on the sixth had come after someone - he still hadn't found out who - had gotten hold of Misaki and pleaded their case. Even then, he'd only gone along with this stupid idea on the condition that they didn't go anywhere outside of Scepter 4 headquarters.
Which apparently had been a mistake.
"Surely not everyone is planning to fold this round again," Munakata's voice cut into the strained silence in the room, with far too much enthusiasm for Fushimi's liking. "You really should show more confidence in your hand. Perhaps... Fushimi-kun... ?"
"I folded already," Fushimi responded flatly, without looking up from his PDA.
"Ah, pity. Hidaka-kun, then...?"
"Captain... please... isn't it enough already?"
"Ahaha! Awashima-kun, I'll take one more card, please."
Neither Munakata nor Awashima had been among those invited to the party. Someone apparently had not been discrete when discussing the plans for the evening, and this was the result.
"You can't have a woman at a man's bachelor party!" Doumyouji had protested when they'd made their entrance - and had been cheerfully ignored.
Apparently if you were the Blue King, you could have whoever you wanted at someone else's bachelor party.
How soon will this end already?
Fushimi's PDA buzzed in his hand, and 'Yata Misaki' flashed up on the call display.
Possibly sooner than expected, then. A flash of hope wormed in through the wall of dismay. "I have to take this," he announced to the table, and stood without waiting, wandering out into the hall and shutting the door behind him before answering. "Fushimi."
He wasn't expecting the loud clash of music, shouts, and laughter that met his ear. Fushimi jerked the PDA away, staring at it with a mix of irritation and disgust. "What...?"
"Saruhiko!" Even with all of that, Misaki's voice came through loud and painfully clear. The phone was almost an arm's length away from his face, and he still couldn't hold back a grimace at the volume. "You gotta fucking get me outta here, right now!"
Clicking his tongue, Fushimi carefully lowered the volume on the PDA speakers before bringing it back to his face again. "What are you talking about?"
He'd known, of course, that Misaki's bachelor party was on the same night as his, but if anything he'd thought that would mean he wouldn't even hear from his fiance until sometime the next day. Which was moderately irritating, but the Homra side of Misaki's life was something he'd accepted - grudgingly - as the price of entry for this relationship, and so it couldn't be helped.
Misaki calling him now was... unexpected.
"I said, I need to you get me out of here!" There was an edge in Misaki's voice that was not quite panic but something very much like it, mixed with irritation and the tiniest bit of a slur that spoke of some drinking earlier in the evening. "Can you just... shit..." His voice cut out for a moment, and there was the sound of feminine laughter - then the background noise went muffled, as if it was being blocked by a wall of fabric. "Can you just - I dunno - call back and pretend like you need me to pick you up? I have to fucking leave right now!"
Fushimi could feel his eyebrow raising as he listened. "Where are you?"
"I'm..." He heard Misaki curse again, and there was the sound of more shuffling. Loud male laughter and high-pitched feminine voices. Music. "I'm at a - shit - I'm at a strip club," he finally hissed.
What. He wasn't exactly surprised, but... Seriously? Fushimi let the other eyebrow rise to join the first, despite the fact that he knew Misaki couldn't see it. "What are you doing at a place like that, Misaki?"
"Shut up! It was Chitose's idea, okay?" The snappish answer had a defensive edge to it. "I-I didn't think it'd be like - like this! Normally you'd expect to just see them on the stage, right? That'd be the normal thing, wouldn't it?" He didn't pause for an answer, rushing on with the rest almost desperately. "There - there's girls everywhere! Like - like walking around! Ha-ha-hardly wearing an-anything!"
What, exactly, did you expect? Fushimi felt the smirk building on his lips and didn't bother to hold it back. The evening had suddenly gotten a lot more interesting. "So you're hiding in the coat rack - is that about right?"
The music suddenly cleared up, as if whatever had been muffling it had disappeared. Misaki sputtered for a few seconds before snapping back, "I'm not in the fucking coat rack!"
Fushimi tipped his head back, closing his eyes for a moment. Typical, Misaki. He was still smiling when he opened them again. "So what do you expect me to do for you?"
"I told you - fuck - " There was some kind of clamor in the background; when Misaki continued, it sounded like he was talking through clenched teeth. "Fucking call me, and say you're dying or something, so I've got an excuse to leave!"
That actually wasn't a bad idea. And, at the moment... Fushimi considered the stilted, awkward game of cards happening inside the room he'd just left. There was still that full plate of anko paste that Awashima had set in front of him, and someone no doubt was going to pester him about actually drinking the beer he'd been given. Plus, Munakata had mentioned something about a chess tournament...
He certainly wasn't above appropriating Misaki's plan for his own use.
"Understood," Fushimi said crisply into the PDA, opening the door and stepping back into the room purposefully as he spoke. "I'll head out right away. Don't let that idiot knock himself out before I do."
"What the hell are you talking about? I said call, not come here! What are you - ?"
It was lucky he'd turned the volume down earlier. Fushimi talked right over his fiance's baffled response. "No, it's fine - I'd rather not have him pass out before he can make his way home, after all. I'll be right there."
"W-wait! Saruhiko? Don't hang up, okay? Don't fucking - "
He disconnected the call, sliding the PDA into his pocket again as he turned to look at the others in the room. "Sorry. I have to go."
"Of course, Fushimi-kun." Munakata smiled at him, inclining his head with seeming generosity. "Don't let us keep you from your important matters. Hopefully this final celebration as a bachelor was a meaningful event."
There was no point in lying about that. "Not really." Fushimi turned deliberately away from the pleading eyes of the special operations unit, heading back for the door without hesitation. "See you."
"Take care, Fushimi-kun. Now, for the rest of us..."
"Have mercy, Captain!"
The door shut behind him. Finally.
As he was walking down the hall, the paper crown fell forward into his eyes again. Fushimi clicked his tongue, reaching up to pull the entire thing off of his head. His original intent was to crumple it up and toss it into the nearest trashcan, but after staring for a moment at the ridiculous design - a little drawing from each of his co-workers sketched awkwardly over the gold pattern of the crown - he made another soft 'tch' and folded it instead, tucking it into his other pocket.
Ridiculous, really, but it didn't matter.
With his escape made, his mood was already starting to improve. Fushimi allowed himself a small smile, feeling satisfied, and reached into his pocket to grasp his PDA.
He'd call Misaki back once he was outside the gate.