April 13th. The weather is finally warming up after an unfortunately long cool spell. Pewter is standing outside the restaurant, looking down at his watch every minute or so. Renju won’t be late – that man never been late for anything in his life, and especially not a date night – but he’s nervous anyway. He pats the pocket of his jacket, knowing the contents haven’t shifted since he last checked but checking out of habit anyway. It’s too important for him to lose it now.
It feels like an eternity passes before he sees a white car pull up into the parking lot. An Infiniti, maybe? Pewter might be a tech expert, but no matter how much either Date or his beloved rattle on about them, he doesn’t think he’ll ever understand classic car jargon. Or car jargon in general, though given his own lack of a car this isn’t wholly surprising. Software engineering is something he understands, but mechanical engineering is something entirely different.
He sees the car door open, and Renju gets out and greets him with a wave before he goes to pay the parking toll. He’s not wearing his jacket out – probably for the best, that white suit immediately marks him as the Lemniscate president – but he’s loosely tied a blue scarf around his neck, in a way that Pewter has managed to pin down as ‘golf-playing-American-CEO-chic.’ It looks absolutely ridiculous, but it unfortunately (Fortunately?) suits him, especially with his shirt slightly unbuttoned.
He half-jogs over to Pewter with a smile on his face. He leans in and gives him a quick kiss on the cheek, in a way that only Renju could pass off as simultaneously businesslike and affectionate. “Sorry I’m late, Iris was showing me lyrics for the song that she’s trying to write and she kept me in the office a little later than I would have liked.”
“You’re not late and you know it, Ren, you’re still five minutes early.” He gestures for the two of them to head inside the restaurant. “Besides, from what you’ve been showing me, A-Set’s lyrics need all the help they can get.”
Renju grimaces slightly as they walk in. “You’ve unfortunately got a point there. I’ve seen that girl grow up and heard all about her dancing from Hitomi, and I can’t deny that she’s got talent in that area, but her musicality otherwise is…a bit lacking.”
He’s interrupted by the waitress at the front, who greets them warmly and asks for the reservation.
“Okiura. Should be a table for two.” He gives her a polite nod, and her eyes widen in surprise a bit. (Despite it happening every single time the two of them go out anywhere aside from Marble, Pewter still will never be able to get used to the looks servers give them whenever Renju says his own name.) Her customer service persona returns quickly, though, and she leads the two of them to a secluded table at the back of the establishment.
After the waitress pours the two of them water and they settle in their seats, Renju resurrects the conversation. “So, how is everyone at ABIS doing?”
“Oh, the usual,” Pewter says before taking a sip from his glass of water. “Boss is dealing with the incompetency of her superiors, the Psyncers are solving cases at the usual clip without any headaches. Aiba’s A.I. is continuing to improve and I’ve kept up with my upgrades on her software. Date is...well, Date.”
Renju laughs at that. “It wouldn't be ABIS without that man. I still cannot believe he works for your department.”
“Neither can I, to be honest, but he’s still one of the brightest Psyncers we have. Miraculously.” They’re interrupted for a brief moment by the nervous waiter from before, who fills their glasses halfway before she scurries back to her post at the front.
“Cheers,” he says, and they clink their glasses before they each take a drink. They sit quietly for a moment, each of them savoring the taste of the merlot. Renju had ordered it ahead of the reservation, but Pewter quickly realizes that it’s the same one Mama served them on their first date, and whispers “You dork” under his breath with a small smile.
“How’s life outside of work, by the way? Found any new musical groups you can recommend to me?”
“Ever heard of Magnuspiel or Quintenrapkone?” Renju smirks, knowing before he does it that Pewter’s simply going to respond by grimacing and taking a drink.
“Why do I still even bother asking,” Pewter says in a flat tone, and his partner laughs.
“What about Mizuki? Is she doing well?” he asks, before he instantly realizes he shouldn’t have. He can see Renju’s shoulders stiffen and his formerly bright countenance darken. Now that was stupid of you, Pewter.
“Sorry, I probably shouldn’t have brought that up, I know that’s still a bit of a touchy subject for you - “
“No, don’t worry about it, it’s fine,” Renju sighs. “From what Date has told me she seems to be doing well in school. Not always the most talkative type, but she never has been. She’s started lifting weights, apparently.”
Pewter raises an eyebrow at that. “Lifting weights? At her age?”
“Certainly not something I would have expected from her, though it probably helps her with stress relief when her sensory issues kick in.” Renju takes a long sip from his own glass before he continues. “Though I suppose I hardly have the right to expect anything from Mizuki at all, given my own...errors in raising her. I barely even know what her favorite foods are any more, let alone the TV shows she likes, or what her best subject is in school. If it weren’t for Date telling me directly, I don’t think I would have even known that she’s actually doing alright now.”
He lets out a long sigh before crossing his legs under the table and looking off to the side. Pewter can instantly tell he’s settled into a dour mood, which is hardly what either of them would want for a date night, but he can’t calculate quite how to resolve the situation tactfully. The two of them sit in silence for what feels like an hour as the pieces finally slide together and the gears turn in Pewter’s mind.
“Ren,” he starts, “I can’t say you did everything right as a parent. Hell, I can’t tell you that having a child was even a good decision for you in the first place. It’s not as if I was around for that, but I know what your relationship with Shoko was like.” He pauses, biting on the inside of his lip and shifting in his seat before he continues. “But you know all that already, and I’m not here to reinforce what you already know. So, I’ll say this: letting your daughter live with Date was the best thing you ever did for her.”
Renju quietly – and, Pewter observes, with a hint of bitterness – laughs at that. “In what universe was that a good decision? I might be Date’s best friend, but even I can tell that was an asinine move on my part. The man’s only 30, after all, he’s not ready for a twelve year old!”
Not exactly like I can tell him about Date’s history…or anything about his time with Hitomi. God, what a mess that is, why am I stuck knowing about everyone’s personal lives? Pewter scratches the back of his head somewhat sheepishly, resolving to tell Renju about all of that messy backstory later. He leans forward and continues.
“Maybe so. But I can tell you this: the two of them love each other more than they would ever let on to anyone else.”
Renju looks down and absentmindedly swirls his glass of wine, which is nearly empty by now. There’s another awkward silence between the two of them before Pewter clears his throat.
“Anyway. I’m sorry for bringing this up on our date night. You can think about your parenting mistakes later, you have infinite time for that and you know I’m more than willing to lend an ear, but - “
“But it’s my birthday, and I’ve been working really hard at Lemniscate, and I deserve this one moment of free time before I go back to being a busy company executive?” Renju smirks, his upbeat mood returning quickly. “Dear, you know me too well.”
Pewter laughs, hoping his face doesn’t show how his heart still flutters a bit at being called ‘dear.’ “Come on, Ren, can’t a man get a break?”
“Oh, absolutely not, you spend too much time at work yourself,” Renju says with a mock seriousness that Pewter knows is just his way of teasing. “I hear you muttering in your sleep sometimes about how you need to refine the Psync machine’s input system. Very bad form, by the way, sleeptalking about government secrets.”
Pewter looks up at him in not-entirely-mock horror. “God, I still do that? I thought I managed to get rid of that habit after high school.”
“Constantly. You might need to take a vacation if you don’t want to keep leaking those secrets to the public.”
“Since when are you the sole member of the public, Mr. ‘I’m-the-president-of-an-idol-company-that-I-named-after-myself’ Okiura?”
“Oh, lord, don’t remind me about any more of the terrible choices I made in my 20’s,” Renju says before jokingly rolling his eyes and picking up one of the menu cards. “I’m pretending to fit in here. What’s the most heterosexual option on this menu?”
“You are absolutely not asking the right person on that one, honey.”
After the conversation settles back into normalcy, the rest of the dinner flies by. He’s so caught up in the conversation, in actually getting to spend time with his beloved for once, that Pewter almost forgets why he invited him out tonight to begin with.
“So,” Renju says while signing for the check, “what did you get me for my birthday, anyway? I can’t imagine you would have invited me out with everything that’s going on with the company right now if this wasn’t important.”
Pewter hopes it’s not obvious that his ears are beginning to flush in embarrassment. He lets out a single awkward chuckle before pulling out a simple fist-sized box from his coat and passing it across the table. Renju opens it, and his eyes and mouth open simultaneously in surprise.
“A watch...” He carefully takes the watch from its box, bringing it in close to his eyes to look at the detailing around its face.
“It’s the gold version of the one I have; I wasn’t exactly sure if it was your style, but I figured it would be formal enough to look good with the white suit that you always w-”
Renju raises his hand up – enough, dear – before setting the watch’s clasps around his left wrist. He pushes it up a bit on his wrist so that it settles under his shirt – still flashy, but not ostentatious. Very you, Pewter thinks, and he gives the man across the table a soft half-smile.
The two of them have never really been the type for PDA, and this restaurant is a little too public for either of them to be comfortable with much of it even if they were both the type, but Renju reaches for Pewter’s left hand under the table and clasps their fingers together.
“We match now. Silver and gold.” He grins and gives Pewter’s hand a gentle squeeze. “It’s perfect.”