Sousuke sat on a chair in the wedding planner’s studio, watching his bride-to-be, Gou Matsuoka, her maid of honor Chigusa, his best man/future brother-in-law/bride giver-awayer Rin, and Rin’s boyfriend Rei all clustered around flower samples and arguing over which flowers would be perfect for his and Gou’s wedding.
He really should have anticipated how involved in the wedding planning Rin would get, when Gou first started asking him if he wanted to come along. It was just the kind of romantic stuff that Rin secretly salivated over. He hadn’t really expected him to get this invested, but then again, he supposed this was his little sister’s wedding, and he wanted it to be perfect.
Or maybe, he mused, eyes flitting to Rei, who was spouting something about color theory and pointing emphatically at a fake peony, it was because he was starting to get ideas for his own.
Rei wasn’t part of the wedding party at all (although Gou was planning to surprise all her old swim club boys with special boutonnieres on the big day), but ever since he and Rin had moved in together, almost a year before, they were a packaged set. They couldn’t invite Rin without extending the invitation to Rei as well. Not that it was bad having Rei around – he was pleasant company – but his presence when he could come along had a marked effect on Rin. Whenever Rin made a suggestion, he would look at Rei for approval, or his reaction.
It was pretty obvious that Rin wasn’t just thinking of his sister’s wedding.
The group reached an agreement on flowers, and the harried wedding planner wrote down their choices before moving them along to music. At that, Rei detached from the group and came over to sit down in a chair next to Sousuke.
“Not interested in the music?” asked Sousuke, glancing over at him.
“I’ve been told by Rin that under no circumstances am I allowed to make music suggestions,” said Rei sulkily. “He says I have boring taste.”
Sousuke gave a laugh. “Well, at least you’re only the best man’s boyfriend. I’m the groom and I can’t make any suggestions.”
Rei laughed, too. “Rin just wants to see this all come together into something beautiful for Gou-san. Although I admit, I wasn’t expecting him to get this interested. I should have, really, since I know he loves going to weddings, even if he doesn’t say it.”
“Yeah, Rin’s always liked that mushy stuff.” A pause, and Sousuke looked at Rei from the corner of his eyes, smiling teasingly. “And I get the feeling it’s not just Gou’s wedding he’s planning for.”
Rei blinked, then looked at him. “Hm?”
“I’m just saying, I think he’s thinking of his wedding, too.”
Rei tensed, his eyes widening a little. “Wait, you mean… me and Rin?”
Suddenly, Sousuke was wondering if he should have said anything. “Yeah, that’s what I was thinking-“
“Why?” Rei leaned toward him a little. “Has he said something to you about it?” He looked almost frightened.
Sousuke shook his head. “No, he hasn’t mentioned anything.” A pause, then he looked away, shrugging, and hoping that if he just dismissed it, it would calm Rei down. “I’m just reading too much into it, I guess.”
“Oh.” Rei did relax a little, leaning back into his chair. “Well, we haven’t talked about it. We’re not ready for that step yet.” He adjusted his glasses and nodded in certainty.
Rin’s voice floated toward them, talking excitedly about first dance songs, and both of them wondered if Rin was, in fact, ready.
It wasn’t that Rei didn’t want to get married ever, he thought that night, lying awake next to a peacefully sleeping Rin. But just the idea of being engaged now made his stomach twist uncomfortably. He couldn’t really understand why, because they were already living together, they shared finances, happiness, sadness, everything, so what would calling each other “husband” change?
He thought of introducing Rin to people as his husband instead of his boyfriend, or being introduced as such. It sounded strange and foreign to his ears. He couldn’t quite imagine it, really. It seemed like such a huge shift, an evolution of their relationship while he was still getting used to the last one.
No matter how he thought of it, he just wasn’t ready for it.
Rei jumped, turning his head to look at Rin, who was staring at him through half-lidded eyes. “Yes?”
“You’re still awake?” Rin slid his arm over Rei as though attempting to comfort him, still mostly asleep.
“Yes. Just thinking about some things.”
“What?” Rin murmured, moving closer to nuzzle his nose against Rei’s shoulder.
“Nothing important,” Rei lied. “Go back to sleep.”
Rin forced his eyes open further, looking at Rei. “You were kind of quiet at dinner, and now you can’t sleep. Do you need to talk about something?”
“No, I’m really fine-“
“Rei,” said Rin, sternly, and Rei found himself blurting it out.
“I don’t want to get married!”
Rei held his breath as Rin woke up completely, pushing up on his shoulder so he was looking down at Rei. “…What?”
“I don’t want to get married,” Rei repeated slowly.
Rin, blinked, looking confused. “What brought this up?”
Rei felt relief already. Maybe Rin hadn’t been thinking about marriage as much as Sousuke had thought. “It’s just something that Sousuke-san said today, while you and Gou were picking out music. He said you might be looking at ideas for our wedding.”
“…Our… oh.” Rin ran a hand through his hair. “Well, I wasn’t. We haven’t even talked about that.”
“That’s what I thought, but I thought you might have said something to Sousuke about it, and… well, it doesn’t matter.” Rei smiled, reaching up to wrap his arms around Rin and pull him down. “We both feel the same, so it’s fine.”
“Yeah.” Rin smiled back, and pressed a kiss to Rei’s cheek. “No plans for engagement here.”
“Thank you,” said Rei softly, cuddling up close to him, and Rin gladly reciprocated.
After a moment of silence, he asked, “I’m not that interested in planning a wedding.”
“Rin, a blind man could see how much fun you’re having helping with this.”
“Sh-shut up! Just go to sleep.”
Rei chuckled and closed his eyes. “Night, Rin.”
But as Rei fell asleep, Rin found himself suddenly wide awake.
Rin didn’t care if Rei didn’t want to marry him, he decided.
It wasn’t like it was a big deal, or anything. If Rei didn’t want to get married, that was fine. It didn’t really matter that he had imagined them in different venues and different wedding styles, or that he toyed with what their names would sound like if one of them decided to take the other one’s name. Not much would change if they had a wedding anyway – it’d just be a big, expensive party and afterwards they’d go right back to the way they were before, only they’d be promised to one another forever.
“Maybe he doesn’t want to be promised to you forever,” whispered the treacherous part of his self-esteem, the bit that was always there to make sure he never felt completely secure in any relationship. “Maybe he wants to make sure he has a way out.”
With as much strength as he could muster, Rin forced thoughts of Rei and weddings away and tried to focus on the grocery shopping he was supposed to be doing.
He was standing in the shampoo aisle, debating if spending the extra yen on a bigger bottle of his favored brand was really economical, when his phone rang. He glanced at the caller ID, and was relieved to see that it was Makoto, not Rei.
“Hello, Rin! Is this a bad time?”
“Not at all,” he said cheerfully, grateful for the distraction as he tossed the bigger bottle of shampoo into his cart and started looking for the fruity smelling kind that Rei liked. “Just doing some grocery shopping. What’s up?”
“I just wanted to know if you were doing something for Rei’s birthday. If I’m going to take off work I need to submit my request soon.”
Suddenly Rin was much less grateful for Makoto’s call. Rei’s birthday was the last thing he wanted to talk about.
Still, he forced out an answer. “Yeah, on the twelfth. I’m renting out one of the private rooms in that sushi place he likes. I’m taking him to an onsen for a long weekend after that.”
That would have been a nice time and place to propose, he thinks idly, and feels a stab at his heart.
“Ah, that sounds fun! Does he know yet?”
“He knows I’m taking him somewhere, but it’s a surprise otherwise, so please don’t tell him.” A pause. “Or Nagisa.”
“Your secret is safe with me,” Makoto assured him. “How are you two, by the way? We haven’t talked in awhile.”
“We’re… fine,” said Rin, trying hard not to sound strained. “Just, you know. Busy.”
“Ah, right. I’m sure you’re both helping Gou and Yamazaki-san with their wedding?”
And now Makoto had brought up both Rei and weddings. If Rin didn’t feel like he still owed Makoto back-taxes in not being a dick, he would have hung up the phone right then.
Instead, he forced out, “Right. Still busy with the… with the wedding thing.”
There was a pause, and then Makoto, too perceptive for his own good, said, “Are you okay, Rin?”
“Me? I’m great,” he asserted, finally spotting Rei’s shampoo and swiping it from the shelf, to be dropped unceremoniously into his cart.
“Are you sure this wasn’t a bad time…?”
“No, it’s a great time.” Rin grabbed the conditioner he used next. “I’m just… trying to find all the shit Rei puts in his hair.” Rin gritted his teeth. “He uses all this shit, you know, and it doesn’t work, his hair is still messy no matter what he does.”
“And here’s the stupid face cleanser that he uses. And the exfoliate. And the moisturizer. We have all this shit because he has to go through a whole twelve-step plan for skincare before he can go to bed. And flossing. You should watch him floss sometime, it’s like watching him make love to every individual tooth.”
“Rin, are you sure-“
“So he’s always in our bathroom just flossing and flossing and why won’t he marry me, Makoto!?”
It took Rin a moment to realize he’d actually said that out loud. Another woman in the aisle was staring at him in shock, and he scowled at her, showing her his pointed teeth, and she turned and scurried on around to the make-up.
Makoto still hadn’t spoken. Probably gaping like a fish on the other end of the line. Rin was too embarrassed to say anything else, and waited, staring accusingly at the bottle of moisturizer in his hand.
Finally, he heard Makoto take a breath and say, calmly, “Can you please start at the beginning, Rin?”
So Rin begrudgingly told him about how he seemed to be having a lot of fun helping Gou with her wedding (which he wasn’t, mind, he was just making sure his sister had the best wedding possible), and how that had led to Sousuke making a comment about Rin thinking about their wedding, which culminated in Rei’s confession that he didn’t want to get married, and Rin saying that was fine because he hadn’t been thinking about it, even if he had been thinking about it. A little.
At the end of his tale, Makoto said, “Did he tell you why he doesn’t want to?”
“No, just that he doesn’t.”
“Well, you know how Rei is.” Makoto chuckled. “He probably just needs time to wrap his head around the idea. I seem to remember him taking two weeks to answer you back on going out with him.”
“Yeah, but that was high school. He seemed pretty sure of himself when he agreed to move in with me.”
“Just ask him, Rin. He loves you. I’m sure, if he knew you wanted to get married, he’d explain his own feelings.”
Rin sighed, but nodded, even though Makoto couldn’t see it. “Why do you have to be so reasonable about everything…”
Makoto chuckled again. “Let me know how it goes, okay?”
“Yeah, yeah. Bye, Makoto.”
Unfortunately, by the time he’d made it home, arms laden with grocery bags, he only felt as distraught as before. No matter what, he couldn’t get rid of the lingering doubt that Rei just didn’t see them being together as long as Rin did. As he fumbled with his key, his heart pounded against his ribcage, with fear that forcing this issue was going to have him alone by nightfall, with the need to know where they stood, and also with a little anger at Rei for bringing it up in the first place and causing him all this inner turmoil.
He pushed the door open, and without preamble, yelled out, “Rei! Why won’t you marry me!?”
There was movement in the front room, somebody saying something. Maybe the TV was on. Rei was definitely home, though, Rin could see his coat hanging by the door and his keys on the hook where he kept them.
“Is it because you just don’t want to be with me forever? Does it scare you or something? Did I do something?” There was a pause while Rin thought, every possible explanation swirling through his head. “Is it because I snore sometimes? Is it because I don’t sort the laundry right? Is it the blowjobs, because I’ve been practicing and I really think I’m better at not letting my teeth-“
There was a much higher pitched noise, and suddenly Rei appeared in hall, eyes wide and a bit panicked. “Rin!”
“Just tell me what it is, Rei, whatever it is, I’ll fix it.”
“Rin, calm down, we have company over!”
There was a beat of silence, and then Rin said, eloquently, “Bwuh?”
“Your sister and Sousuke-san are here to get some china samples I picked up for them on the way home,” he hissed, and then it was Rin’s turn to look panicked.
For a moment they just stood and stared at each other, then Rin gave a choked, humorless laugh, dropped all the bags in his hands, and rushed straight past Rei and the doorway to their living room in a retreat for their bedroom, slamming the door behind him.
Rei watched him go, then sighed and adjusted his glasses, before returning to the living room. Sousuke and Gou were sitting next to each other on their small couch, giving each other the kinds of looks that only couples understood.
“Sorry about all that,” said Rei, and they both turned their attention to him and stood up.
“It’s fine, Rei-kun. But I guess this means you two won’t be coming to dinner with us tonight.”
“Some other time,” said Sousuke.
“We can see ourselves out,” said Gou reassuringly, patting Rei on the arm as the two passed, and Rei gave her a grateful nod and a farewell, before going back to the bedroom while Sousuke and Gou angled for the front door.
“I think this is my fault,” said Sousuke as they left, and Gou looked up at him, puzzled.
“I asked Rei if they were thinking about tying the knot, and it looks he thought not and Rin thought they were.”
“Well, they’ll sort themselves out.” Gou smiled reassuringly. “Rei-kun is good at a lot of things, and taking care of my brother is one of them.”
“And Rin’s too stubborn to let go of something he wants,” agreed Sousuke.
“Sounds like someone else I know.”
“Yep. It’s a family trait.”
Gou gave him a light swat on the arm, then slipped her hand into his.
Rei opened the bedroom door as quietly as he could and stepped in, pausing to take in the scene before him. Rin was lying on their bed, face down in his pillow, one hand bunched in his hair.
With a fond smile, Rei walked over and sat on the bed, then reached out and rubbed Rin’s back slowly, craning his head over to give his shoulderblade a kiss. He waited like that for a minute or so, until Rin was ready to talk.
Finally, Rin heaved a sigh and said, without looking up, “I just made an ass of myself, didn’t I?”
“Just in front of your sister and best friend, so I doubt you really changed their opinions of you,” said Rei teasingly. He moved his hand up higher to stroke his hair. “It’s okay, Rin.”
Another minute passed, and then Rin rolled over halfway, so he could look up at Rei. “Is this about to be a thing, between us? Because I really don’t want it to be a thing.”
“I don’t think it has to be. Not if we just talk about it.” He reached up to fiddle with this glasses. “I take this to mean that you really did want to get married, then?”
Rin rolled the rest of the way over and sat up. Without really thinking about it, he reached up and took one of Rei’s hands away, pulling it down to hold it. It made him feel better, especially when Rei squeezed his hand back.
“Just some idle fantasies, I guess. Nothing too serious. But then you said you didn’t want to get married at all, and… it felt different, knowing none of it was going to happen.”
Rei sighed and shook his head. “I’m sorry. I guess I wasn’t very clear, when I said I didn’t want to get married.” Rin tilted his head, feeling hope leap in his chest, as Rei continued. “I… do want to get married. Eventually.” He turned his head to look at Rin. “It’s just that… getting married seems like it would be such a huge change. I mean, I know that, logically, it shouldn’t be one – we’re already basically living like a married couple, all that would change would be our titles. So I know my hesitation is completely absurd, but…”
“But it’s just moving too fast for you, huh?” Rin filled in, reaching up and cupping Rei’s face. Rei leaned gratefully into his hand.
“I’ve barely gotten used to this change.” He smiled wryly. “Sometimes I even try to go home the wrong way.” Rin laughed. “And even if, logistically, it’d be the same… it would feel different. And I guess I’m just not ready for that again. Yet.”
“I get it.” Rin sighed. “Sorry. I was just… being stupid.”
“What were you thinking? When you suddenly started worrying about me marrying you?”
Now it was Rin’s turn to look away. “Like I said, I was being stupid.”
“I had to share my feelings, Rin,” Rei chastised, and Rin was caught between scowling and smiling.
“I guess I just… want us always to be together.” He blushed. Even after all this time, saying things like this out loud to Rei was hard. “And it felt like maybe you didn’t.”
“Now that, I’m sure of,” said Rei, confidently. He pulled his legs up onto the bed and laid down next to Rin, the two of them snuggling close out of habit. “No matter what I see myself doing for the rest of my life, I simply can’t imagine a future without you in it, Rin Matsuoka.”
When it came to emotional honesty, and casual declarations of affection, Rei still had him beat. Rin was okay with losing that particular contest for now, because it wasn’t really losing at all. The feeling that rose in his chest was very clearly triumph.
“I can’t see myself with anyone but you, either, Speedo Glasses” he replied, and Rei smiled. “And whenever you’re ready to make that marriage official, I’m ready.”
Rei’s smile faltered. “I’m always making you wait on me, aren’t I?”
“Yeah.” He pressed a kiss to Rei’s cheek, remembering his conversation with Makoto earlier. “Especially with all that flossing.”
That made Rei relax. “Dental hygiene is important,” he groused, but he was smiling full force again.
“Besides, there’s no one I’d rather wait for.” Another kiss. “I love you with everything I have.”
Sometimes, he could win the emotional honesty game after all. Rei blushed, but didn’t try to break eye contact as he replied, “I love you too.”
They laid there for some time, not caring that it was getting late and they hadn’t even thought about dinner, enjoying each other’s warmth and listening to each other’s heartbeat.
Finally, it was Rin that broke the silence, smiling playfully.
“Are you sure it’s not the blowjobs?”
“Hmm, maybe. Why don’t you show me how you’ve improved?”