“Glanni, look! It’s you!”
Glanni, leaning heavily on the railing, made himself look up at Robbie, “Hm?”
Robbie pointed up, “The giraffe! It’s freakishly tall! Like you!”
Glanni turned to stare out at the enclosure before them. A giraffe was craning its chin up, munching on some leaves from a tree. Glanni sniffed and dropped his eyes again. “You’re the same height as me, Robbo.”
“You’re an inch taller.”
“Four inches with those heels.”
“Why are we here?”
Robbie crossed his arms and gave Glanni a stern look. “Because you’ve been moping around my lair for a week. You can’t waste your life draped across my armchair surrounded by ice cream containers. Maybe coming here will, I don’t know, get you thinking.”
They were visiting the local zoo. Glanni had been dragged through the reptiles, the polar bears, and now the giraffes. None appealed to him. At one point he had stolen a kid’s cotton candy, which had been the best part of the day so far.
Glanni leaned even further against the railing so he was almost dangling over the giraffe enclosure. “I’ll just mope here, then. They have ice cream at the café. You won’t have to suffer my presence anymore.”
Robbie grabbed him by the back of the shirt and pulled him away from the rail. “Don’t get dramatic here.”
Glanni let himself fall slowly onto the ground. “Me?” He placed the back of his hand against his forehead. “Dramatic?” One leg rose to stick straight up in the air, the tip of his foot just under Robbie’s chin. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
That earned him a glare. Glanni sighed and sat up, “Can we go now?”
With a determined glint in his eye, Robbie started walking away. As he was Glanni’s ride, Glanni had no choice but to follow.
Their next stop was the Big Cat exhibit. Large felines prowled about, sometimes nuzzling each other. The bright orange of the tigers made Glanni feel miserable. “He loves orange,” Glanni moaned, slumping against the glass, “And yellow. Both hideous. But does he wear any other colors? No he doesn’t. He’s hopeless.”
A family beside Glanni shot him odd looks and steered their daughter towards the lions. Robbie frowned. “If you miss him, why don’t you go see him?
Glanni sighed, fogging up the glass beside him. The tiger on the other side lay down and stared at him. Maybe if he jumped in there, the creature would put Glanni out of his misery. A hand took Glanni’s own and he was led out of the exhibit like a child.
Outside, Robbie turned to him, still holding his hand. “I still don’t get what he did wrong.”
“He doesn’t trust me, Robbie!” Glanni tore his hand away, “How can he not trust me?! After everything we’ve been through?! I just wanted to- to shower him in love! And he acted like I was going to stab him in the back!”
“Well you do get affectionate when you want something. You have to admit he had reasons to be suspicious,” Robbie pointed out.
That argument had been doing laps in Glanni’s head ever since he had stormed out of his apartment a week ago. Had he acted too harshly? Was he in the wrong?
Glanni rubbed his eyes with the heels of his palms, “Look, all this means is we’re not ready. It’s too soon for that kind of commitment if we’re having problems like this.”
Robbie hummed and started walking again. Glanni kept pace beside him. In a thoughtful tone, Robbie said, “I think it’s not the problems that are the problem, but the way you handled it.”
Glanni’s eyes narrowed, “Robert, you’re my favorite cousin—”
“I’m your only cousin.”
“— but I am not taking relationship advice from you. It took you how long to confess to your elf?”
To Glanni’s satisfaction, Robbie’s face turned red. “That’s not the point! I’m just saying; you can’t fix this by avoiding him. Maybe you two are meant to be, maybe you’re not. But you can’t figure it out by yourself.” He looked away. “I worried what it would be like dating Sportadork for a long time. I couldn’t figure it out on my own— I had to be with him to find out what it was like.”
Nodding slowly, Glanni said, “So I should make an Íþró puppet and act out conversations to practice! Then I’ll know!”
Robbie rubbed a hand down his face, “No. Idiot. I mean talk to him in person!”
“I like my idea better.”
“My idea is better.”
“Sounds fake but okay.”
Robbie stopped and smirked in such a Glæpur-Rotten way that Glanni was honestly terrified to his core. “Why don’t we test both ideas? I’ll go first.” He placed his hand on Glanni’s head and turned it to the right.
There, in the middle of the pathway, looking just as surprised, was Íþró. Sportacus stood beside his older brother, looking too pleased with himself.
“You’re late,” Robbie chastised, “You were supposed to meet us by the polar bears.”
Sportacus shrugged, pulling the frozen Íþró down the path. “He stopped to help get a balloon out of a tree for a little boy. And to get someone else back to their parents. And—”
“Yes, yes, we get it. Good Samaritan, hero to anyone under four feet, has no idea what a top shelf looks like. Try and be faster next time.”
“Let’s hope there isn’t a next time.”
“Fair. Alright, kids,” Robbie slapped Glanni on the back. Remembering air was a Needed Thing, Glanni sucked in a lung full. Fear flew in with it, filling him from stomach to heart. “You two do what you need to do. Sporty and I are going to see the hippos.”
With that, Robbie strode over, took Sportacus’ offered arm, and began walking away.
Glanni spluttered, panicking, “I’LL GET YOU BACK FOR THIS, RUBIN!” Robbie waved without turning around. “I’m going to hide all his shoes.” Glanni muttered.
“Hide them or steal them?” Íþró asked.
“Depends how cute they are.”
Íþró chuckled, crossing his arms and watching Sportacus and Robbie leave, “When did they start thinking they were wiser than us?”
With a snort, Glanni said, “Probably around the time we called them asking if they knew how to get gum out of a beard.”
“If you had just stopped laughing you could have helped.”
“If you had stopped looking ridiculous I might have.”
Íþró let out a proper laugh at that. Glanni was quick to follow. It would be so easy to forget the tension of the last week. To just laugh their way through the zoo. But one absent look at Íþró’s hand halted that tempting train of thought. There on his finger—
Following his line of sight, Íþró cleared his throat. “Glanni, I’m truly, completely sorry for last week. I should not have acted like that. Not only was it rude to say those things when you were just being nice, but then to not listen to you…” Íþró reached up as if to touch Glanni but stopped himself.
“Maybe…” Glanni licked his lips, “Maybe I shouldn’t have just walked out and hidden.”
“And maybe I should have come after you. I just didn’t know what to say…” Íþró sighed, “I… I wish I knew how to make it up to you.”
Glanni pursed his lips, eyes flickering between Íþró’s hand and his forlorn expression. He held out his hand. “Give me the ring.”
A deep sorrow passed through Íþró’s face but he complied. He slipped the ring off his finger and dropped it in Glanni’s hand.
Glanni got on one knee.
He faintly heard passersby gasp and whistle. This hadn’t been his original plan. The plan last week had been to propose to Íþró at home and parade him around town with his new accessory. But kneeling in the zoo surrounded by strangers would do fine. Maybe someone would even record it.
“Íþróttaálfurinn, will you, the idiot who let me leave and has been a scaredy cat for a week, marry me, the idiot who shouldn’t have left and has eaten all of Robbie’s good ice cream?”
Tears in his eyes, Íþró cupped Glanni’s cheeks, “Yes.”
Glanni smirked even as tears jumped into his own eyes, “I should hope so. Apparently you’ve been wearing my ring.”
“I would have said yes a week ago if that means anything.”
“At least I know the thing fits now.” Shaking, he slid the ring back onto Íþró’s finger. Íþró pulled him up by the collar and kissed him. Now several onlookers were clapping and cheering. But two voices stood out louder than the rest.
Glanni and Íþró looked over. Apparently Robbie and Sportacus hadn’t gone far. Sportacus was standing behind a bench further down the pathway, arms up in victory. Robbie, beside him, was crying exaggeratedly into a cloth tissue.
Íþró ignored them both, turning to Glanni, “Want to go see the parrots with me?” He slipped his hand onto Glanni’s.
“Promise not to help any brats along the way?”
Glanni kissed him on the cheek. “Good. Wouldn’t have you any other way.”
Hand in hand, the newly engaged couple left their younger, more annoying relatives behind and ventured into the zoo.