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The Gift

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The thin blinds of Joey’s window did little to shield the incoming sunlight. The bed was pushed against the far wall, where the fingers of dawn couldn’t quite reach. Covers wrapped tight around bare skin, and the occasional cold foot was left exposed, only to be drawn in with a grumble. The discarded clothes from the evening before were left in shy mounds. Joey stirred with the morning, and he blinked heavy eyes at the soft sound that hit the glass outside. Through the gloom, and where his cat had bent up the blinds, he saw the patter of white.

“It’s snowing,” he said, voice muffled by the comforter. The body wrapped tight around him shifted, groaned, and he felt the warm press of another’s lips against his shoulder.

“All the more reason to stay in bed,” Seto murmured.

It was a far more enticing offer than facing the cold air of the bedroom. The heater did its best, rattling in the corner to fight the morning frost, but Joey was warmed enough by the heavy blankets and the body heat of his partner. He braved the cold for a moment, hand grabbing lazily for his phone, and he drew it back into the confines of his cave, wincing at the blue light that blinded him in the morning dim. Seto buried his face into Joey’s neck, squeezing him tighter.

“Freeze warning,” Joey said with a sigh and discarded the phone. “Might have to postpone plans tonight.”

“Oh, no.” Seto lifted his head so he was over Joey’s face. He dragged a hand down his hip. “That means I get you all to myself today.”

Joey laughed. “I guess you win.”

“Well.” Seto smiled. “Happy birthday.”

He kissed him, slow and tender. Limbs wrapped around each other, hands wandered, but the cold made them lazy lovers. They moved against each other to generate a comfortable heat, laughing, gasping, holding each other close. The snow piled up outside. Daylight reached them. Joey played with Seto’s hair, watching it change color in the morning light. Seto snoozed gratefully against his chest like a sleepy cat. Finally, a single thought stirred him.

“Coffee,” he murmured.

Getting up was nearly impossible. Joey braved the cold to throw on his fleece lined pants and hoodie, and Seto dragged the comforter behind him as he made his way to the kitchenette. They drank bowls of soup and turned on the TV, leaving the channel on some mindless cartoons that played at a low volume. As the rest of the world woke, Joey’s phone buzzed with the group chat. Plans to be rearranged. Joey never made big plans for his birthday. He liked spending time with the people he loved, and if that meant they met up tomorrow instead, he could still be happy. It helped that Seto was here with him, and had sneakily placed a single wrapped present on the coffee table. He waited on the couch with a dutiful expression.

“And what is that?” Joey asked as he placed two bowls of soup in front of them.

“Traditionally,” Seto said with a smug look, “people give presents to someone when it’s their birthday. It shows appreciation that you were born.”

“Right.” He sat on the couch and eyed it. The box was deceptively small. Seto had a tendency to spoil those he cared about. It was worse than extravagance. Seto was thoughtful . If he couldn’t find the perfect gift, he’d make it.

“I was going to give it to you tonight,” Seto said, “but if plans are changing, I’d rather not wait.”

Joey reached across the table and picked up the gift. It was wrapped in blue paper and tied at the top with a ribbon. It wasn’t a weighty gift. The paper crumpled in his hands, and he could feel the box inside. Glancing at Seto, he pulled the ribbon. The paper fell away easily, leaving a single hinged black box. Joey held it like it was made of glass. Seto watched, no longer smug. His expression was almost nervous.

“It’s a ring box,” Joey said.

Seto rolled his eyes. “It’s in the ring box, stupid.”

Joey shot him a look. He brushed aside the paper and held the ring box in his hand, too nervous to actually open it. Seto removed himself from his blanketed cocoon and wrapped his hands in his. Slowly, he guided the box open. Inside, against all odds, was a ring. It was crafted from a black colored wood and banded in platinum. Seto’s hands stayed on Joey’s. It was hard to tell in the cold, but both of them were shaking.

“I planned to do it tonight,” Seto said, “with everyone, but I can’t wait any longer. This relationship has been anything but easy, but I love you. I want you in my life. I want to marry you.”

Tears welled in Joey’s eyes. He couldn’t stop them as they poured down his face. It had been a long journey to here, to now, to this level of comfort and domesticity, where things like coffee and morning kisses were part of the routine. It wouldn’t be the end of it either. Marrying Seto Kaiba wasn’t going to be easy. Marrying Joey Wheeler didn’t exactly sound like a breeze either. But the option to not, that was the worst one of all.

“I wanna marry you too,” Joey said and sucked in a snotty breath. “I’m shaking too much. Will you put it on?”

Seto’s fingers fumbled as he removed the band from the box and placed it on his finger. Joey hadn’t stopped crying, and Seto brushed his thumbs beneath his eyes and kissed him. It was one of their worst kisses. It was one of their best. They held each other, laughing, crying, being in love. They’d see their friends tomorrow, they decided, and share the news then. A big group text would mean phone calls, congratulations, and answering a lot of questions. For now, it was the two of them, wrapped in the big blanket, watching cartoons, spending their lives together.