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The Destiny of Knights

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Emil wasn't quite sure why JJ had invited him to his wedding when they weren't at all close but he was glad he came. There were lots of people he knew and it had the electric atmosphere of a huge party. Everyone was in high spirits, finding their seats and he was looking for someone he’d been told was supposed to be here...

There he was! "Mickey!" He waved enthusiastically and hurried over. "Oh, you saved me a seat!"

"Wha-? No! It's just coincidence!" Mickey huffed and folded his arms.

Emil laughed. "Okay, okay." He sat down and looked past Mickey, "Hi, Sa-- ah, excuse me." That was not Sara. He shrank back into his seat, embarrassed and hoping to kind of hide behind Mickey even though he was taller.

"She's not here," Mickey said quietly.

"Ahh." Sorry, random woman! I thought you must be someone else! Emil apologized in his head. He wanted to ask Mickey where Sara was; he didn't think they were ever apart. But it didn't look like Mickey was too happy about that so he decided to bring it up later if he had the chance.

The reception was out of this world. The banquet hall was packed with beautiful people and filled with so much food and champagne everywhere and--

"What's that pole for?" Mickey scowled.

"Uh...maybe the bachelor party was held here too?" Emil ventured. Did Mickey not notice the woman from the wedding was following him? It was a possibility; he only had eyes for his sister. The woman looked a bit upset. Did she need to say something to Mickey without him there? She really was quite attractive, even angry. Not really Emil's type, though.

"That was a really nice wedding, don't you think, Mickey? It brought tears to your eyes, after all."

Mickey glared at Emil after thanking a server for a glass of champagne. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Emil laughed and elbowed Mickey in the ribs. "Don't be shy. Lots of people cry at weddings."

Mickey frowned and looked at the floor. "It just made me think that one day Sara will get married, okay? And—and that’ll be kinda hard,“ he muttered. "She'd make the most beautiful bride though."

"Excuse me," the woman said. Emil had almost forgotten she was there. "I'm leaving."

Mickey looked at her for the first time since Emil had joined them. "Oh. I'll, uh, walk you out."

"No need." Mickey and Emil watched her go, Mickey's face neutral and Emil totally confused.

"Uh, Mickey, did you know that woman? Who..?"

“Eh, she was my date."

"Ah ha ha! Of course your-- your date?!" What. The. Hell.

Mickey sighed and looked at Emil. "I think I'm ready for another drink.”

“Sooo…are you gonna tell me about your date, Mickey?” Emil asked. Mickey had returned with another flute of champagne and they sat at one of the many tables arranged around the banquet hall.

Mickey glared. “What’s there to tell? That was my date. Was. She left.” Emil didn’t know what to say to that. Fortunately, Mickey sighed and continued. “Sara keeps insisting we need to be apart. To be our own people. She wants to d-date,” Mickey kind of choked on the word, “and wants me to try dating too. That…isn’t working out too well.” He took a swig rather than a sip of champagne. “So when she found out I was coming to this wedding, she insisted on setting me up with an acquaintance of hers that lives here in Montreal.”

Emil had to ask. “So you’ve been on other dates before this? You’ve been dating?”

Mickey grimaced. “Well, I tried. Sara asked me to, and I can’t refuse her, y’know, so I told her I’d try.” Another swig. “And they all end pretty much like this one did.”

Emil frowned. “But why? You’re a handsome guy, Mickey!” Mickey raised an eyebrow at that. “You’ve got a lot to offer. You’re really cool!”

“They all say I have a sister complex.”

Emil blinked. “Uh, well, I guess there is that.”

Mickey scowled. “I love my sister, so what! We’re siblings, we’ve spent our whole lives together! Isn’t it natural that if I’m shopping, I think of what to buy her? Or if I go out to eat, I think of her favorite food? If I see beautiful scenery, I want to send her a picture? Why is that so unreasonable?”

Emil didn’t say anything for a moment and looked to the dance floor. Slow music had started up and the floor was filled with so many lovely couples. JJ and his bride were out there somewhere, he supposed, but everyone’s eyes were on Yuuri and Victor. Emil had always thought that they were both attractive men, although in different ways, but together they were heartbreakingly beautiful.

“They look at each other like they’re the only two people in the world,” Mickey almost-whispered.

Struck with an idea, Emil turned back to him. “Y’know, Mickey, no woman will ever compare to your sister. So maybe you should date a guy instead.”

Mickey stared. “Hah? Are you stupid?”

Emil looked at him like a puppy uncertain whether it was being praised or reprimanded. “Yes?”

Mickey shook his head. “I need another drink.”


Mickey’s head throbbed and his eyes burned behind eyelids that wouldn’t open and every muscle ached and holy crap what the hell did he do last night to feel so awful this morning..?

One eyelid. Two. In front of his face, sleeping next to him, was the familiar shaggy, scraggly, stupid face of Emil Nekola.

Suddenly he recalled the last thing he remembered Emil saying to him: “Y’know, Mickey, no woman will ever compare to your sister. So maybe you should date a guy instead.”

Mickey screamed.

Emil hadn’t heard that scream since Yuuri Katsuki had hugged Mickey to death in Moscow but he’d recognize it anywhere.

“Mickey!” Emil sat straight up in bed, looking around frantically, and heard a loud thud. He peered over the edge of the bed. “Mickey, what are you doing on the floor? Did you have a nightmare?”

Mickey pointed at him, shaking. “You! YOU are my nightmare!”

Emil scratched his head. “You’re not making sense. Why are you so angry? Did I accidentally kick you out of bed? I didn’t mean to!”

“Kick me ou—? No! Why are we in bed together in the first place?!” Mickey looked around. “Where the hell are we?”

Emil looked at Mickey, wild-eyed and frantic, and couldn’t help but laugh. “That’s what you’re worried about? Mickey, this is my hotel room.  You got really, really, really drunk at the reception and I was worried about leaving you alone in that state. So I brought you back here.”

Mickey had calmed down slightly but now looked a little skeptical. “Okay, but why the same bed? There’s a perfectly good couch—“ he gestured over his shoulder at the small living area “—right there.”

“I thought about it,” Emil admitted. “But you were really smashed. I wanted to be close enough to make sure you didn’t puke in your sleep or something.” Emil decided to leave out the part where he kept his hand on Mickey’s back as he slept because he needed the assurance of feeling his breathing. “Lots of people die that way, Mickey!”

Mickey considered. He knew Emil wasn’t a bad guy. Probably didn’t have a bad bone in his body. And he did sound genuinely worried about him. “I guess that makes sense,” he muttered.

Emil convinced Mickey that no matter how lousy he felt, the short walk to a cafe and some food would do him good. Mickey protested the entire time that he couldn’t stand to think about eating anything.

Then his food arrived and his face lit up. “This looks amazing! And it smells so good!” He took out his phone and positioned it above the plate. “I have to send a picture to Sara—“ he stopped, clearly conflicted.

“What’s wrong, Mickey? Doesn’t Sara want a picture of your brunch?”

“Well, of course she does. I think. But I’ve been allotted only five texts per day. I don’t know if I should waste one on this.” Emil tried not to smile at the seriousness of Mickey’s pondering. “Oh no!” he looked at Emil, panicked. “I have to tell her I’m okay! If she hasn’t heard from me since yesterday then—“

“Oh, I texted her.” Emil took a bite of his eggs.

“You what?”

Emil swallowed. “I texted her. When we got to the room last night, I figured she’d probably be worried. Or that you’d be worried about her being worried. Anyway, I didn’t want anyone worrying, so I told her you were with me.”

Mickey’s brow furrowed. He opened his mouth to say something when his phone pinged from a text. “Sara!”

Sara: So happy you’re having fun with Emil!! You should stay a few days and keep him company. He sounded so happy to see you. :)

Mickey’s eyes narrowed as he showed the text to Emil. “What the hell is that about?”

Emil shrugged. “I told her that I’m staying for a week as a little vacation but got kinda bored by myself and that it would be great if you wanted to hang out. That’s all. I figured you were more likely to do it if she suggested it.”

Mickey glared. “What the..? Why are you talking so much to my sister?”

Emil laughed. “Because we talk about you, Mickey.” He winked. Mickey scowled again but his blush was visible despite his tan complexion.

“Conspire against me, more like.” He huffed and shoved a forkful into his mouth, apparently forgetting his earlier protest about not being hungry.

“We do it because we love you, Mickey.” Emil grinned. “You wouldn’t do anything if we didn’t bully you into it. So, how about it? Hang out here for a few days, have a little vacation? Pleeeeeease?”

Mickey considered, then typed rapidly on his phone.

Mickey: If you really think I should stay here, I will.
Sara: I do, I do!! You’ll have a great time, I promise! It’ll be good for you!

Mickey sighed and slid his phone back into his hoodie pocket. “Alright, you win. Let’s…hang out.”

Emil suggested walking around, enjoying the weather and doing some shopping. Mickey didn’t argue. He would never admit it but he really did feel better after eating and hanging out with Emil wasn’t the worst thing he could be doing. He acted like it was a huge pain but he actually liked Emil quite a bit. Sure, he did hate the fact that Emil was a little taller, but that couldn’t be helped. And despite the fact he texted his sister (apparently) Emil didn’t really seem “interested” in her. Mickey could never be totally sure; maybe it was all Emil’s plan to get him to let down his guard..? Mickey looked at Emil out of the corner of his eye. Emil saw him looking and smiled back.

Nah, Mickey decided. Emil was not capable of such a diabolical plan.

“We’ll have to hit some museums tomorrow,” Emil said.

“Museums?” Mickey raised an eyebrow.

“Museums are great! Just think of all the stuff you can tell Sara about! And there are some impressive cathedrals around here too…though I guess being from Italy maybe they won’t be that impressive to you…” Emil trailed off.

“If you wanna see them, we can see them.” Mickey shrugged. Emil was a bit surprised Mickey seemed so agreeable. “It’s your vacation, you should do what you were gonna do.”

Emil tried not to smile at Mickey’s weirdly-disguised consideration but couldn’t help it. “I want you to pick some stuff, Mickey! Now it’s your vacation too! What do you want to do?”

“I don’t really know…I usually just do what Sara wants to do.” Mickey looked around at the shops lining the street. “I will need to buy her something. A souvenir from our vacation.”

Our vacation. Emil hugged Mickey. Tightly.

“What the—? Quit hugging me on the street!” Mickey sputtered, pushing Emil away.

Emil laughed, not at all embarrassed or put off by Mickey’s response. “I was just so happy! We’re going to have so much fun!”

“Tch,” Mickey started walking again, blushing furiously. “You can’t just go hugging me without warning!”

“So that means I can hug you with warn—“

“No! That’s not what it means at all!” Mickey huffed.

“But you let Sara hug you all the time!” Emil jokingly protested. “I’m jealous! Why does she get to hug you and I don’t?”

Mickey stopped in his tracks. “Are you stupid?”

“Yes!” Emil exclaimed happily.

Mickey couldn’t help but laugh and shake his head. “I can’t even… Let’s go find a present for my sister.”

They spent the rest of the day wandering around, going in and out of shops looking for the perfect present for Sara.

“Aren’t you gonna buy anything for your brother?” Mickey asked.

Emil was surprised. “I didn’t think you even remembered that I have a brother.”

“Of course I—!” Mickey frowned. “We’re friends, yeah? Of course I remember stuff like that. I always thought that’s why we got along, because we’re both older brothers.” He shrugged and went back to looking at scarves.

So cute. “Hey, Mickey, so that thing about hug warnings—“


“Awwww.” Emil pretended to pout. “Maybe next time.”

“Still no.”

The next day was full of museums. Mickey thought it would be horribly boring but he soon found that Emil’s excitement was contagious. Mickey (secretly) considered Emil to be his friend but they didn’t see each other much outside of events. This was a side of Emil he’d never seen.

“Mickey! Isn’t this so cool? Look at this!” Mickey went over to see what was so cool, enjoying looking at Emil looking at it more than looking at it himself.

“Ahh.” Emil saw Mickey looking at him and his face fell a bit. “This is boring for you, huh?”

“No, no, it’s fun,” Mickey said.

Emil looked skeptical. “Are you suuuure?”

Mickey chuckled. “I’m sure. I had my doubts, yeah. But it’s pretty fun. You know a lot of stuff. It’s…neat. Usually, y’know, you’re so laid back. I’m not used to seeing you so excited about anything.”

Emil raised an eyebrow. “Is that a compliment?”

“Wha-? I—I guess?” Mickey looked flustered. “I was just thinking about your theme last year. No Longer Human or whatever. Your robot theme. And I was just thinking you look awfully human here. I don’t think robots are usually so happy.”

“Mickeyyy…hug?” Emil held out his arms.

Mickey batted at his hand. “Knock it off.” He gestured with his head. “C’mon, show me the next cool thing before they kick you out of this place for being such a weirdo.”

“We have to take a picture of this and send it to Sara,” Mickey said, looking at the mountain of poutine in front of him. “But I’ve used up my message limit for the day so you’ll have to send it.”

Emil laughed. “Oh, so now you’re okay with me texting your sister?”

Mickey slid in on Emil’s side of the booth so they could both be in the picture, poutine in front of them. “It can’t be helped. And I have to approve it before you send it.”

“Okay, okay.” Emil chuckled again. He snuck his arm around Mickey under the pretense of squeezing closer so they’d fit in frame. “Say ‘poutine!’”

He took a few shots and handed his phone to Mickey to “approve” the picture. Then Mickey’s brow furrowed and his thumb started flipping through the camera roll.

“What the hell is this?!” Mickey nearly shrieked, holding the phone too close to Emil’s eyes.

Oh, crap. “Uhh…the reception?”

“THIS?” Mickey said again. “Gah, this is why I was so sore when I woke up all hungover! I couldn’t figure that out! But— this?! And why do you have a picture of it?” Flip, flip. “And why are you on the pole with me?!”

Emil couldn’t help but laugh awkwardly. “Well, you looked like you were having so much fun pole dancing so I wanted to try too. You really are a great dancer, Mickey. You were pretty erotic.” He tried to grab his phone but Mickey’s grip tightened, so Emil’s hand wrapped around Mickey’s instead.

Mickey’s eyes widened. “Are you stupid? Erotic? Delete this right now!”

They wrestled over the phone, Emil started raising his arm up, praying that he’d have a slight arm length advantage and Mickey would have to let go. “No way! They're my treasure!”

Mickey’s hand was still holding tight to the phone so he was pulled into Emil as Emil kept raising his arm higher. Then Emil realized Mickey’s face was right there.

Oh, crap, he’s too close. Mickey’s purple eyes—I love those eyes—right in front of his, their hands still clasped tight above Emil’s head, and Emil couldn’t help but letting his eyes flicker to Mickey’s lips. Mickey noticed, however, and his hand loosened under Emil’s, sliding free and leaving the phone in Emil’s hand. He turned away and went back to his side of the booth. “Fine, keep your stupid pictures. Whatever.”

Emil worried he’d gone too far. Mickey had noticed. He was already mad at him and then he almost kissed him of all things and Mickey had noticed. What if he’d ruined everything? He hung his head, trying to think of what to say to lighten the mood and return things to how they were before he messed everything up.

“Hey, what’s that look for? Don’t do that,” Mickey said roughly. Emil raised his head slowly. Mickey didn’t quite look at him, shoving poutine in his mouth and talking around it. “Being mopey isn’t like you; don’t be weird. Eat your food. It’s pretty good.” He swallowed and pointed at Emil with his fork, finally making eye contact. “And don’t forget to send our picture to Sara.”

Emil smiled and tried not to cry with relief. “O-okay,” he managed. He sent off the message and set his phone down on the table.

“It’s even your wallpaper?!”

“You want me to go see what?” Mickey asked, standing outside of a huge building, pointing at the awning. “Insectarium? We’re really gonna go look at a bunch of bugs?”

“It’s going to be so cool! How can you not want to see it?” Emil asked, gripping Mickey’s shoulder to keep him from running away. “Besides, it’s part of the whole group of attractions here. We’re here so we might as well see everything.”

“But…bugs?” Mickey couldn’t keep the distaste off his face. “Wasn’t the Biodome and garden-thing whatever enough nature for you?” They just stared at each other for a minute, Emil’s face hopeful. Finally Mickey sighed. “Fine, whatever. Of course you’d like bugs.”

“Yay! Thanks, Mickey!” Emil hugged him without thinking and felt Mickey tense up. He let go quickly, “Oh, sorry, sorry, forgot to ask permission.”

Mickey shrugged. “Whatever. It’s no big deal.” Emil’s eyes widened but Mickey had already turned resolutely toward the entrance. “Let’s go see your bugs.”

Mickey was so relieved when they finally got back to their hotel room. They had been all over today, Emil excited about everything. Mickey was starting to feel like a professional tourist. They’d done the Biodome, Emil marveling about ecosystems or something. They’d done the Planetarium, Emil trying to convince Mickey there was intelligent life on other planets. They’d done the Botanical Gardens, Emil lamenting the fact he couldn’t maintain a garden at home. They’d done the stupid Insectarium, and if Mickey had screamed and clung to Emil a couple times, who could blame him? Then they’d done that forsaken Tower, Emil chattering about how great his last skydiving experience was.

Mickey was exhausted. He flopped down on his pull-out couch bed and looked at Emil across the room, practically glowing from all the nature and learning and stupid heights and damn bugs and stars and trees and whatever the hell else they saw today and he felt…old.

“Mickey, why'd didn’t you tell me you were afraid of heights?” Emil asked, fiddling with the television.

Mickey sat up and swung his legs over the side, elbows propped on his knees. “Would it have mattered? You would’ve just said, ‘Oh, Mickey, can’t skip the Tower, it’ll be so cool!’”

Emil laughed. “Is my voice really that high-pitched?” He couldn’t stop smiling. “And besides, it was cool, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, it was,” Mickey said flatly.

Emil turned to look at Mickey; his voice sounded all flat and wrong and he was staring at the floor. “What’s wrong?”

“Eh? Nothing. Nothing’s wrong.” He still wouldn’t look up.

Emil knelt down in front of him. He wanted to touch him, but thought better of it. “You’re a really bad liar, Mickey.”

Finally Mickey looked up. He looked straight at Emil for a second, then looked away with a sigh, running his fingers through his hair. “I just…” Emil waited. “Being there today, at that Olympic place…” He scrubbed at his hair. “It just got me thinking. I don’t know how much longer I can do this.”

Emil was confused. “Do what?”

“Skate!” Mickey said, exasperated. “It’s all I’ve ever done, but being there today and thinking about that—and looking at you and you’re so young and vibrant and energetic and shit. How much longer can I keep going?”

Emil tried not to laugh; Mickey was being perfectly serious. “Mickey, you’re only four years older than I am. You’re hardly an old man like Victor. Why would you worry about quitting now?”

“Will I ever be good enough?” Mickey asked bluntly. Desperately.

Emil blinked, still not quite understanding. “Good enough for what?”

“To win! We all thought when Victor kinda retired it was our chance to shine but look at all these guys! That Russian kid is a monster! Freakin’ Katsuki rose out of the ashes and is blowing everyone away. JJ is so…JJ.” Mickey deflated. “And I look at you and you’re amazing. You’ve got so much potential and you’re inspired by everything…” his voice cracked. “And my inspiration told me that we’re better apart.”

“Then I’ll be your inspiration!” Emil blurted.

Mickey looked at him incredulously. “Hah? Are you stupid?”

“Yes!” Emil said automatically. “I am stupid, Mickey, but I’ll do whatever I have to do to keep you skating. I love watching you out there! You’re so manly and chivalrous and cool—“ Mickey rolled his eyes, but he was blushing. Emil grabbed Mickey’s hands. “Your last Serenade for Two performance made me cry. It was perfect!” You are perfect. “Please don’t give up.”

Mickey looked up from Emil’s hands around his. He blinked rapidly and Emil noticed his eyelashes were wet. Emil released Mickey’s hands only to hold out his arms hopefully. He raised his eyebrows, asking silently. Mickey leaned in slightly and wrapped his arms around him. Emil was shocked but then tightened his arms around Mickey, saying nothing about how damp his shoulder was getting.

Neither one mentioned anything about the incident the next day. Emil still wasn’t sure if Mickey had cried over his skating career or the forced separation from his sister or both or neither. But it didn’t really matter. Mickey seemed…clearer today. Like he’d cried away his problems and doubts and now was whole again. Emil was so happy he’d been the one to be there for him, even though he felt a bit conflicted at being happy as a result of Mickey’s distress.

Maybe…I can feel bad for him but happy that I could help him? Emil pondered. He nodded to himself. Yeah, that works.

“What are you nodding at? Are you falling asleep? It was your idea to watch this movie!” Mickey whispered, jabbing him in the side with his elbow.

“I’m awake, I’m awake!” Emil whispered back. Fortunately the theater wasn’t at all crowded at this time on a weekday afternoon. It had been Emil’s idea to go see a movie. Mickey seemed overloaded yesterday—Emil wondered if that was partly why he broke down last night—and Emil felt a bit guilty about that and suggested they do something a bit lazy.

He had a sneaking suspicion that Mickey would actually prefer a rom-com but Emil wanted to avoid anything that might remind Mickey of Sara at this point. He suggested the latest superhero movie, fully aware that Mickey would agree to it for the sake of his masculinity.

Emil usually loved movies. Or he loved the inner workings of a movie, anyway. He enjoyed the special effects, the storytelling, the use of different angles and shots. Analyzing the process was fun for him and because of that he never met a movie he couldn’t watch.

Until today. Oh, the movie was okay, he supposed. He tried to pay attention to the car chase and the action and the love interest and the drama but…Mickey was too distracting. In his defense, Mickey wasn’t really doing anything. But Emil’s eyes were constantly flickering, taking in Mickey’s varied expressions, the way he bounced his foot when the scene was tense, the way he absentmindedly chewed his nails when the hero was dangling from a helicopter—

“Stop that,” Emil said, taking Mickey’s hand. “You’re going to look odd skating with gnawed-off fingers.”

Mickey huffed, hiding a laugh. Emil waited for Mickey to take his hand back and call him a weirdo. And he waited.

And waited.

Emil risked a glance right in time to see Mickey’s eyelids drooping. I guess I really did wear him out yesterday, he thought, just as Mickey’s head slid over onto Emil’s shoulder.

If anyone had asked Emil what movie he saw that day, he couldn’t have remembered the title. But he would have enthusiastically claimed it was the best. movie. ever.

After the movie (Emil had pretended to fall asleep also so Mickey wouldn’t be embarrassed) Mickey surprised Emil by suggesting an evening picnic on Mount-Royal.

“I still can’t believe this is where you wanted to go,” Emil said, looking out over the city. “I thought you were tourist-ed out.”

Mickey shrugged, hands in his hoodie pockets. “I googled it and everyone said the view at sunset is incredible. I figured you’d like it.”

Emil grinned. “Aw, Mickey, you’re so romantic.” He nudged Mickey with his shoulder.

“Well, yeah. Aren’t dates supposed to be romantic?”

Emil froze. “Dates?”

Mickey frowned. “Isn’t this a date?” His face changed as panic set in. “Wait—was I—uh—I mean—well, you said—“

“I said what?” Emil asked.

“At the wedding. You said I should try dating guys so I thought you meant…” he trailed off. He licked his lips nervously. “You didn’t..?” At Emil’s shocked expression, Mickey covered his face with his hands. “Just-just forget I said anything, okay?”

“I didn’t think you’d actually try it!” Emil finally blurted. “I mean, I’m glad you were, for my sake—“ should he not have added that part? “—but I really didn’t expect you to just, uh, switch-“

“It’s not a switch,” Mickey said, muffled by his hands.

Emil’s heart stopped. “What?” He tried prying Mickey’s hands away from his face. “What did you just say?”

“It’s not a switch,” Mickey repeated quietly. His hands dropped to his sides and he looked out at the fading sunset. “I think that’s why I devoted myself to my sister. I didn’t want to deal with…this. If my life revolved around Sara I wouldn’t have to worry about other, uh, feelings.” He grimaced.

“Feelings?” Emil asked. He needed to be absolutely clear on this. He tried to keep himself from hoping...

Mickey stared straight at him, purple eyes bright. “Manly feelings. About men.”

Emil tried to remember how to breathe. Mickey looked down and continued, “I didn’t want any of that. I didn’t want to admit it to myself, I guess. But then you came along and I tried to keep you away but you wouldn’t freakin’ take the hint..!” He sighed. “So then when you said that stuff at the reception, I thought…but I guess—“

“Mickey.” Emil’s voice wavered.

Mickey looked up at him. He’s the perfect height, Emil thought as he leaned in and kissed him.

It was a sweet, innocent, barely-there kiss. For Mickey, a first-kiss kiss. For Emil, a finally-I-get-to kiss.

Emil pulled back slightly, half expecting to get punched.

Mickey’s face was every emotion at once and Emil could hardly stand how beautiful he looked. “Wh-what did you do that for!” Mickey sputtered.

Emil laughed. “I’ve wanted to do it ever since I met you!” He closed the distance, touching their foreheads together. “I just thought now you might finally let me.”

Mickey’s blush was visible even in the fading light. “Whaa—! Buh— Gah! Are you stupid?”

Emil wanted to burst from happiness as he squeezed Mickey to him. “Yes! Because I know that ‘are you stupid’ is Italian for ‘do you love me?’”

Mickey glared at him. “That’s not even Italian! Are you stu— oh.” Mickey got even redder at Emil’s grin and buried his face in Emil’s shoulder in embarrassment.

“Mickey,” Emil said softly, hugging him.

“What?” Mickey asked angrily, muffled a bit against Emil’s jacket.

“Are you stupid?” Emil couldn’t hide the delight from his voice.

Mickey’s arms tightened around him. “As stupid as they get.”

Emil laughed and kissed the top of Mickey’s ear. “Good. I love you too.”


“Ooh, Sara, look at this shirt! Don’t you think it would look great on Emil? I have to buy it for him.”

“Oh, man, this restaurant is amazing! I’ll have to bring Emil here. He’d love this weird sauce.”

“Sara! Take my picture in front of this ugly tree. Emil will get a kick out of it!”