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ulterior motive

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“Listen, it’s a good idea,” Reigen was saying. “Lots of benefits. and the fact that you think I have some kind of ulterior motive for it is frankly a little insulting.”

“I’d say that usually the motive you’re presenting is the ulterior motive,” Serizawa said. “If you’re not going to use the hot sauce, can you pass it?”

Reigen stopped mid enormous bite of the taco that, by all laws of nature, should not have fit in his mouth. “Wh mfks-” he stopped and crossed his eyes in concentration. Serizawa watched as it travelled visibly down his throat. “What makes you think I’m not going to use it?”

Serizawa raised an eyebrow. Reigen passed the hot sauce.

“And it’s not like anyone would suspect,” Reigen resumed, after a moment of stewing. “We’ve been dating for what, a couple years now?”

Serizawa shrugged, pouring another layer of hot sauce onto his taco. “You’re the one who remembers the anniversaries.” 

Reigen snorted. “Are you kidding? I always forget those things.” 

This was not true- both of them knew that their second anniversary had been precisely four months, two weeks, and five days ago. Serizawa didn’t remember the origin of the joke that neither of them knew any important dates, but it persisted regardless. 

Serizawa was distracted from trying to remember the origin when Reigen leaned forward, closing the already small space between him. At one point, this probably would have made Serizawa’s stomach flip, but now all he could think about was how badly Reigen’s breath smelled. “But that’s not the point. The point is, this is a perfectly reasonable time for two young responsible adults to get married. It’s practically expected.”

He edged a little forward, and Serizawa had the terrible idea that Reigen was trying to kiss him. “But for tax breaks?” Serizawa pushed him back a little on the couch with one flat palm, spread wide over Reigen’s narrow chest. “That doesn’t seem usual. Taka, please, stop getting so many onions, it makes your breath smell awful.”

“Exactly,” Reigen said. From the look in his eyes, he had reached the point where he was getting so enthralled with his idea that anything additional Serizawa had to offer slid straight past his ears and into the oblivion of ambient noise along with the rattling fan spinning merrily above their heads. “It’s not usual. So that means people won’t guess it, and our totally legal tax break will be ours.” He waved his plastic to go cup at Serizawa, straw wiggling up and down in lieu of his finger. 

Serizawa tilted his head. “Actually, is that even a thing in Japan?” He asked. “Or did this come from that American show you’ve been watching?”

Reigen scowled. “You’ve been watching it too, so you should know, wouldn’t you?” 

“I always fall asleep,” Serizawa admitted.

At this, Reigen’s mouth fell open- on anyone else, Serizawa would have guessed the expression was mock shock and horror, but he knew from experience that on Reigen’s face, it was completely sincere. “Katsuya.”

Serizawa raised his hands. “I’m sorry, I know you love it, it’s just. Sort of boring! And you didn’t deny the point, so it’s making me think that’s probably what it is.”

Reigen sagged back on the couch in the beginning of a dramatic overture. “I’m just trying to make things easier for the both of us,” he said. “Cut down on expenses! Help keep this business alive! There’s no need for you to be so negative.” He glanced over at Serizawa, who was beginning to scoot closer, then snapped his head away. “No, I’m busy being mad at you. No cuddling your way out of this one. All you’ve done this whole time is crush my great, excellent, perfect ideas and insult my tv shows. I’m taking away your title as best boyfriend.”

“Ta-kaaa,” Serizawa said, drawing out the last syllable in a singsong.

For a moment, Reigen kept his back turned away from Serizawa, nose tilting upwards. Then he sighed dramatically and flopped back, head landing on his leg. “Oh, all right, all right. But you owe me several apologies, or a night out. Or both.”

“Sure,” Serizawa said, absently smoothing Reigen’s bangs off his forehead- he needed a haircut. “Taka, if you want to get married, you could have just asked.”

Reigen sat up again so fast Serizawa barely had time to move his face out of the way to avoid a collision. “What?”

“Well, you said it,” Serizawa pointed out. “It would make sense for us to get married right now. You didn’t need to construct this whole scheme if you wanted to ask.”

A red flush was climbing up Reigen’s face at remarkable speed- it reached his forehead in record time. “I don’t- I already told you I didn’t have an ulterior motive!”

“Well, is it okay if that’s my ulterior motive for saying yes?” Serizawa asked.

A series of expressions were working their way across Reigen’s face when the office door opened. “Hello, Shishou and Serizawa-san,” Mob said, pushing the door shut with his foot. “Sorry I’m a little late today-” he stopped, blinking at them. “Did I come at a bad time?”

Reigen had progressed to pressing his face into Serizawa’s shoulder, shaky arms wrapped around his neck. Serizawa looked down at him, then back up at Mob. “We’re getting married,” Serizawa told him. “For tax breaks.”

“Oh,” Mob said. “Congratulations, I’m very happy for both of you. Shishou, am I invited to the wedding?”

“You bet you are,” Reigen said, muddled by Serizawa’s suit and emotion. “If you don’t come, I’m firing you.”

Mob nodded thoughtfully. “I’ll be sure to come, then.” 

Reigen flopped a hand at him. “Well, get to work, then. Weddings-” his voice hitched. “Weddings don’t pay for themselves.”

As Mob settled into his desk, focus obviously immediately blocking the two of them out, Serizawa leaned his head against Reigen’s, curve of his head resting under his chin. “Does this make this office a family business?” He asked in a murmur.

“Well, everyone always thinks Mob is my kid anyway,” Reigen said, without raising his head. “So, works for me.”

Serizawa snorted, opening his hand to hold Reigen’s when it grabbed at his. His thick hands swallowed up Reigen’s bony fingers, and he rubbed his thumb along his wrist in a slow movement. It was not exactly how he’d imagined his proposal going, but now that it had happened, he doubted it could have gone any other way. “I’m happy I met you, Arataka,” he said.

“Well, sure,” Reigen said, the tremor in his voice only mostly warbling the words. “How else was I going to get a tax break this good?”