“Are you two almost ready?”
Len can’t help but roll his eyes at the fourth call from upstairs he’s heard in the past ten minutes. He decides to ignore it this time around, pouring his last remaining ability to concentrate into getting his hair to stay out of his face for two precious seconds. Rin, of course, ruins this by hauling herself halfway onto the sink to re-adjust her hair clips for the tenth time that morning.
“Could you move?”
“Bathroom is neutral territory after twenty minutes.” Rin retorts, plucking her toothbrush out of the glass that sat next to the faucet. “Either shave some time off or shave your head .”
“But this is my bathroom!” Len exclaims, jabbing his thumb into his chest as Rin dissolves into giggles next to him. “Use your own!”
This does nothing to deter her, as usual. She simply sticks her tongue out at him before shoving the brush between her lips, humming some bizarre tune she’d picked up from the radio the other day.
There’s a knock at the door not a moment later, and Len groans before he’s even seen who was on the other side. He knows it’s Kaito, because Kaito always makes them leave early, because he drives so slow because it’s safer and he wants extra time just in case traffic is bad and gosh! This always happens when Meiko can’t be bothered to take them to school in the morning. An ‘important meeting’ she had to attend his foot.
Kaito peeks his head in after Rin gives him the okay, finding her dancing circles around her clearly un-enthused brother who looks like he’d just stuck his head in a blender. Typical morning routine.
“This might as well happen.” Len mutters after a moment or two, putting the brush down at last. Kaito’s fingers perch atop his lips to presumably keep himself composed.
“Well, if you two are ready, we should probably head out. There’s a bit of snow on the roads and—”
Rin interrupts him by spitting unceremoniously into the sink, and even Len, annoyed as he is, snorts at the display.
After establishing that they were indeed ready, Kaito herds them up the stairs, peeking anxiously at his watch while the other hand rummaged aimlessly through his pockets. “Rough morning?” He manages, casting Len a sympathetic glance.
“You could say I’m having a bad hair day.” Len says, voice lacking a bit of its prior edge.
“Like that’s any rarity around here.” Rin teases from beside him, earning a playful elbow to the ribs. Kaito stops a few paces behind them, patting himself down in search of—
“Keys. Where did I put the keys?” He groans, sparing one hand to run through his hair as if he’d possibly find them there. “We’re going to be late!”
“We normally don’t leave for another ten minutes.” Rin points out, unhelpfully. Len chimes in with a quiet, “If you can’t find them, does that mean we don’t have to go?”
Kaito tries for a deadpan, but he’s hardly any good at keeping a straight face. “No, you still have to go— ah, maybe in this one…” His hand emerges with the keys at last, but at the cost of several other miscellaneous objects (and maybe his dignity) plummeting to the floor in their wake.
Naturally, the twins move to pick them up — definitely because they’re polite and well-mannered, and not because they’re nosy teenagers desperate for any playful jab they could make at the poor man tasked with taking them to school that morning. Rin snatches a blue pen, Len finds a neatly wrapped butterscotch candy, and both of them reach for the remaining object at the same time. Neither grab it.
It’s a small black box, light as a feather with a presence as heavy as a boulder. They dared not touch it past the slightest brush against the very tips of their fingers — instead, they look at it, then at each other, one thought surfacing in their heads in the time it took for them to take a collective gasp of air.
“SHHHHH!” Kaito shushes them frantically, snatching it away from their hovering hands. “Q-Quiet, please! It’s not—”
“Oh no,” Rin promptly interrupts, eyes wide as an owl’s. “That’s a ring. That’s a ring.”
Kaito pales a few shades, swallowing hard. “W-We’re really going to be late—”
“Who is it for?” Rin demands, answering her own question not a second later. “It’s for Meiko, isn’t it!”
Pocketing it quickly, Kaito shakes his head, a not-so-subtle redness flushing into his cheeks. “This is hardly the time to discuss that— and frankly, it’s none of your business!”
“You’re going to propose to her?” Len asks, seemingly oblivious to the poor man’s distress. “I didn’t even know you were dating.”
Kaito sputters at that, scrambling to cover his face. “W-We’re not! Well, I mean, not officially, maybe? We’ve never really talked about it, we just kind of— g-go out, together, a lot, but it’s— Who said it was Mei-chan, anyway?”
“Not even dating? And you’re just gonna ask to marry her like that?” Rin asks, a knowing grin pulling at her lips. “I suppose that’s fine if you’ve been going on your friend trips since we were in diapers.”
“It has not been that long.” Kaito huffs, then pauses to reconsider. “...I think. A-Anyway, I never said I was proposing in the first place, you’re both just making assumptions!”
Len throws his arms out to either side, incredulous. “What else do people do with rings?!”
“I-It’s a promise ring!” Kaito exclaims, as unconvincingly as physically possible. At the look the twins give him then, he finally admits defeat, waving off the next surge of accusations before they could start spewing them. “Okay, okay, I… I am planning on it. I have been.”
Rin’s eyes sparkle, a shrill coo fleeing her lips. “How long, for how long? When are you going to tell her? Today?”
“Oh, heavens no, not today, she’s— it’s, it’s complicated.” Kaito tugs at the collar of his shirt, a fresh sheen of sweat glistening on his face. “R-Really, we should get going now, I think.”
“Don’t give me that, this is serious! Come on, Kaito, how long?” Rin prompts him further, and Kaito shudders out a heavy sigh at last.
“A long time.”
“Be more specific.”
Kaito glances away. “Months.”
The twins exchange a glance, thrown off by the sudden shift in the atmosphere. Quietly, Len asks, “How... many months?”
Kaito doesn’t answer this time, pulling the small box back out to look it over for what must have been the hundredth time. He can’t but smile down at it, it seems like — and what a sad little smile it is. “Too many, I think.”
It’s quiet there in the hall, race to the car abandoned. Kaito heaves a deep breath.
“Listen, you two,” A bit of the familiar Kaito-like sparkle is back in his eyes, however tired they look. “I know you’re excited— I am too— but please don’t tell her about this, okay?” He pauses for a moment, and they can practically see the light bulb appear over his head. “Wait, I’m an adult. You absolutely cannot tell her about this, actually! That’s an order!”
Rin snorts. “That’s cute. I mean—” Len stops her with a frantic wave of the hand, coughing loudly into his other one. “We won’t! Promise.”
“Good.” Kaito smiles, tension bleeding from his shoulders. “Come on now, we’ll really be late this time. This whole thing never happened, okay?”
The twins nod with only the most innocent of smiles, exchanging a final, knowing look with one another. It did. It did happen.
The first thing Rin did when they got home was flop down on the bed, sprawled out on her back and engaged in a serious staring contest with the ceiling fan. Len is quick to recognize this as her ‘thinking face’ and leaves her be, electing to procrastinate on what little homework they’d been given over the weekend by scrolling mindlessly through the comments section of some old video he’d dug up the night before. An average, quiet afternoon — or it would have been, were it not for the unspoken thoughts left to buzz in their heads like the busy bees they were. They don’t stay unspoken for long.
“I can’t believe this.” Rin utters after a time, draping her forearm over her eyes. “Months. Months! And I didn’t know about it.”
“You’re still thinking about that?” Asks Len innocently, eyeing her in his peripheral. Rin responds by blindly throwing the nearest pillow at his head. She misses.
“Like you haven’t been!” She huffs, sitting up and bracing her elbows on her knees. Len leans back in his chair, turning to face her fully at last.
“He said it never happened, didn’t he? If he’s gonna lecture me for being distracted in class, I’m not gonna tell him it was because I was thinking about his love-life.”
“So you were thinking about it!” Rin traps him with an accusatory finger pointed in his direction. Len returns the gesture.
“And? So were you, clearly!”
“Of course I was! This is huge!” Rin flops backwards dramatically, mattress creaking under her weight. “ ‘I didn’t even know you were dating’, huh? I can’t tell if you were joking or if you really are that thick.”
“Yes, I knew!” Len retorts. “They’re so obvious. I was playing dumb to make him feel better, duh.”
“Yeah, I should hope you were.” Rin scoffs. “That idiot has been sitting on it all this time, doesn’t he know that life is short? What is he doing?”
Len hums thoughtfully, shrugging his shoulders. “He must be thinking about it a lot.”
“He already bought the ring. I don’t think you’d buy a ring for someone you weren’t sure you wanted to marry.”
“True.” Len concedes, finger pressed to his lip. “Well, it’s like he said. It’s not really our business.”
Rin blows him a half-hearted raspberry, not looking over. “...You know what we have to do, right?”
“No?” Len’s brow shoots up to new heights, a glint of guarded curiosity in his blue eyes. “I don’t think we’re supposed to do anything except forget about it.”
“Fat chance.” Rin mutters, clumsily rolling over to the nightstand and rummaging around for a notebook covered with glittery calligraphy. “Just admit it, you’re thinking it too.”
Len startles at the accusation, quickly redirecting his gaze back to the screen. “Thinking what?”
“If he hasn’t done it by now,” Rin goes on, pausing to pull the cap off the pen with her teeth. “He’s not gonna do it at all. Not without a little nudge, anyway.”
Len’s eye twitches. “That sounds like a disaster, actually. What makes you so sure he won’t do it himself?”
“Cause,” Rin shrugs. “he’s kind of a pussy.”
Len snorts obnoxiously loud, cupping his hand over his mouth to stifle the definitely-not-laughter trying to escape. Breathlessly, he asks, “And what makes you think I’m in agreement with anything you just said?”
“Twin instinct.” Rin states, with all of the bluntness of a concrete wall. “And you have that look on your face.”
Len wrinkles his nose. “What look?”
“That look you get when you’re trying really hard not to smile, and it looks like you’re really constipated?”
Len deadpans. “You’re not really convincing me to be your accomplice very well.”
“That’s fine, I don’t need an accomplice.” Rin hums, turning the notebook around to let Len see what she’d written there. “Just a partner.”
Len gives it a quick glance over, hesitance only doing so much to delay the inevitable. “You’re crazy.” He says after a time, shaking his head.
“No,” Rin is quick to correct him, mirroring the grin that now sat snug on his face. “We’re crazy.”
— PLAN A.