The message comes in as Kei breaks through the fourth level of encryption.
blueii: are you serious?
Kei smirks and types out a quick reply in between strings of code.
firefly: I am always serious. I thought that would be obvious by now.
blueii: you’re ridiculous.
Ridiculous isn’t exactly the response that Kei was hoping for. He was hoping for something closer to “wonderful” or “sweet.” Or, you know, “romantic.”
He doesn’t hack into the lights on the Eiffel Tower for just anyone, after all.
firefly: Is it really so ridiculous?
Kei sends the message before he can overthink it. He thought about it enough before he did it – if Tobio doesn’t like it or doesn’t feel the same way or whatever, then he can say so. Kei isn’t going to let them pretend that it didn’t happen the way that Tobio sometimes does when he’s uncomfortable. Tobio doesn’t mean to do it, Kei is pretty sure, but he does sometimes put things off for so long that he genuinely forgets about them and then nothing ever comes of them.
This will not be one of those times.
Kei is going to get a response to this, one way or the other.
blueii: yes it is.
Kei frowns at the message screen. It sounds like a rejection, but – well, this is Tobio. Tobio is always direct, and this isn’t. “Ridiculous” isn’t “no.”
He didn’t get it.
Kei laughs. Here he was, on the edge of his seat, waiting for Tobio's response to his grand gesture, and Tobio didn’t even know that he made it. This is why they don’t do romance – one of them is about as dense as a brick wall. As steady as a brick wall, too. And broad. And tall. And handsome. And kind. And –
The warning buzzer on his phone goes off. He has two minutes to wrap this up and get out of the building before the patrol drones circle by again.
Kei closes the message screen and focuses on finishing the job. He can take this up with Tobio again later.
Once he’s out of the building and safely tucked into a cab on his way back downtown, Kei sends another message.
firefly: Morse code.
He doesn’t send anything else. Tobio is clever – when he bothers to try to be – and he’ll figure out what Kei means.
In the meantime, Kei has a plane to catch.
There are no new messages when Kei touches down in Vancouver.
There are no new messages when he takes a cab to their apartment building.
There are no new messages when he stands in front of the apartment door and checks one last time, feeling more nervous now than he ever has in six years of only-mostly-legal cyber infiltration work for the Foundation.
Kei swipes his palm over the panel by the door, but the door doesn’t open. Kei frowns. The deadbolt is engaged. Why would Tobio engage the deadbolt? They only do that if they’re gone or they think someone is after them.
This job went smoothly, though, and Tobio hasn’t worked a job in almost a month now. If someone was after them – outside of the usual industry backstabbing, that is – they would know. Which means that Tobio must not be here.
Frowning, Kei presses his palm to the panel and overrides the deadbolt with his implant.
The lights are off when he steps inside the apartment, but there is fresh fruit on the counter so Tobio must have been here recently.
“Tobio?” he calls. He kicks his shoes off and then paces further into the apartment. No one answers him. Nothing stirs in the apartment.
Tobio is not here.
Kei dumps his bag on the sofa and scowls around at the empty apartment. Perfect. He makes a grand romantic gesture, which Tobio completely misses, and then he hurries home to surprise his dense boyfriend only to find his boyfriend gone without bothering to tell Kei where he went.
They’ve had worse anniversaries, but not by much.
Kei’s phone vibrates. He pulls it out and glares at the screen.
blueii: where are you?
Kei frowns at the message. As far as Tobio knows, Kei is in Brussels right now. His next job is scheduled to start in two days, and they both agreed that it seemed silly for him to come home just to catch a redeye out again almost immediately, even if it did mean they would be apart for their anniversary. Coming home was meant to be a surprise. Then again, so was the Eiffel Tower. It doesn’t seem to be their year for surprises or gestures.
firefly: Home, where you’re supposed to be. Where are you?
Kei doesn’t get a response for several minutes, which is unlike Tobio. He pours himself a glass of water while he waits. Finally, Tobio messages back.
Kei’s eyebrows go up.
blueii: i’m in brussels.
blueii: i was going to surprise you.
Of course he was. Tobio isn’t very romantic, but he knows that Kei likes that kind of thing and so occasionally he tries to sweep Kei off of his feet. This certainly would have done that.
The gesture alone is enough to make Kei feel warm all over. Tobio is good at that. He can be a bit dense and sometimes he has trouble with tunnel vision, but, at the end of the day, there is no one who makes Kei feel more seen and loved and appreciated and safe than Tobio does.
Kei’s phone vibrates with another message.
blueii: i looked at the tower footage again. should i come home or are you coming here?
It seems like Tobio finally got it, then. And he’s right – whichever way this is going to go, they should do it face to face. Kei has the job in Brussels anyway, so it makes more sense for him to go to Tobio.
firefly: I’ll come to you. Stay put.
With a sigh, Kei grabs his bag and heads back to the door. He can arrange a plane ticket on his way to the airport. Just as he closes the apartment door, another message comes in.
blueii: ok. see you soon.
A smile tugs at the corners of Kei’s mouth.
firefly: See you soon.
Tobio messages him the address and room number of the hotel he’s at while Kei is in the air, so he has it when he touches down. The nervousness that he felt at the apartment is back as he steps into the elevator and hits the button for the top floor. He doesn’t know what Tobio is going to say. He hopes that –
No. He isn’t even going to think it. He put it out there, and Tobio will be straight with him. Tobio is never anything but direct and honest … sometimes too honest. He won’t play with Kei. Whatever Tobio's response is, he will give it to Kei without any games or jerking him around.
That, at least, should be some comfort.
It isn’t, though.
Kei opens the door with the key that Tobio left for him at reception and steps inside the room. Tobio is standing rigid in the middle of the room with his arms at his sides. His eyes are very wide, with dark circles beneath them. It looks like he hasn’t slept in a while. Kei knows the feeling.
He means to say hello, but instead he says, “You don’t have to answer right away.”
Tobio shakes his head quickly. “I want to,” he says. His voice is thick. It puts a lump in Kei’s throat, too.
This was too soon. Too fast. Too unexpected. They’ve only been dating two years; he should have waited. He should have asked first, instead of going for it like this. He should have –
“I –” Tobio says, and then stops. He shakes his head. Then he takes several jerky steps forward, closing the distance between the two of them, and drops to one knee.
Kei feels his heart drop at the same moment.
“I’m pretty sure I read the Morse code right,” Tobio says, haltingly, “and I don’t think you would joke about this –”
“I wouldn’t,” Kei says. The words barely come out, his throat is so dry.
“So, really, you asked first,” Tobio continues, “but, just to be sure, in case I’m wrong, I’m asking you now, because I want to and I didn’t even realize until I read your message in the lights.” He reaches out for Kei’s hand, stopping just before they touch, letting his fingers hover in the air just centimeters from Kei’s skin. Kei reaches back and grabs his hand. The smile that splits Tobio's face is blinding. “Kei,” Tobio says, “I love you.”
Kei shouldn’t be standing for this. He doesn’t want to look down at Tobio right now – he wants to look straight at him, to be close enough to kiss because he’s pretty damn certain that he’s going to want to do that in just a second. He drops to his knees as well, facing Tobio, their faces now inches apart.
Tobio inhales sharply. His eyes are still so wide, and fixed firmly on Kei’s face.
“Kei,” Tobio whispers.
“Yes, Tobio,” Kei whispers back, leaning in, closing the distance further until he can feel Tobio breathing in the space between them. Neither of them are breathing particularly steadily.
“Kei, will you marry me?” Tobio asks, hushed, like a secret, breathing it into the air that then fills Kei’s lungs.
“Oh god, I thought you’d never ask,” Kei breaths. He pitches forward, releasing Tobio's hand to wrap both of his arms around Tobio's neck as he kisses him. Tobio kisses him back, reaching up to touch Kei’s face so, so gently with both of his hands. It’s perfect. Kei feels like he might explode. It’s the warmth that being with Tobio always gives him mixed with the most complete sense of euphoria that Kei has ever experienced. It’s incredible. It’s wonderful. It’s home in a way that an apartment in Vancouver can never be. This is where Kei wants to be for the rest of his life.
“Wait, wait,” Tobio says, suddenly, pulling away. Kei stops kissing him with great effort, blinking at Tobio in confusion. Tobio is frowning.
“What?” Kei asks. “What’s wrong?”
“Just,” Tobio says, “you didn’t say yes. That seemed like a yes, but you didn’t actually say –”
“I can’t believe I’m going to marry you,” Kei says, deadpan, shaking his head.
Honestly. Tobio's directness is a beautiful thing a lot of the time, but then there are times like now when his need for everything to be spelled out in exact terms – no poetry to it, no implications or insinuations or double entendres – can get in the way of Kei’s more romantic inclinations. But then, Kei wouldn’t have him any other way. Tobio’s blue eyes are staring at him in somber apprehension, hope and trust and love coming at Kei so strong he feels about twenty feet tall, lifted up by force of Tobio's affection.
In this case, he doesn’t mind spelling it out, saying it bluntly, as many times as Tobio needs him to.
“Yes, Tobio,” Kei says. “Yes, I want to marry you. I’m the one who programmed the question into the lights on the Eiffel Tower in Morse code, remember?”
“Good,” Tobio says, nodding. His grin is back, and the intensity of emotion in his eyes seems to double. “I want to marry you, too, Kei.”
“Good,” Kei says back. “We’ll get right on that.”
Then he leans forward and kisses his fiancé.
It feels so good, it’s ridiculous.