Aoi stared blearily at the clock as her alarm went off. Why on earth had she set an alarm for five in the morning? She reached out to turn it off, before rolling over and closing her eyes again.
Then she shot up, throwing her blankets off as she remembered what day it was. Grabbing the clothes that she had prepared the night before, she rushed to the bathroom, preparing herself for the day. She took her time, making sure she looked the best she could, before exiting, making her way down the hall towards the kitchen.
She stopped outside one of the doors, knocking heavily on it. “Yusaku, are you awake?”
A groan answered her, and she frowned. He’d probably stayed up late, immersed in his work as usual. She’d even reminded him, knowing it would happen, but she’d seen him ignore everything else in favour of his work before.
She knocked again, then turned away from the door. “You know, I’m pretty sure Takeru will probably kill you if you miss his wedding because you slept in.”
That got a response. Something, or rather, someone, hit the ground heavily with a curse. She continued walking down the hall, hearing Yusaku’s door open as he rushed to the bathroom himself.
She reached the kitchen, going through the motions as she cooked herself a simple breakfast. A short while later, Yusaku appeared in the doorway, and she threw him a light smile. “Late night?”
He nodded apologetically. “Yeah, sorry. I got caught up working on a program.” Then he groaned, a frown on his face. “Still, why the hell did Takeru schedule his wedding so early?”
Aoi shrugged. “Don’t ask me, I’m not him.” She pushed a mug at him, across the table. “Coffee.”
“Oh, thanks.” He picked it up gingerly, sipping at it, then took a seat. He looked at her with a small smirk. “You’re not wearing a dress?”
She glared at him. “You know I hate those things. I’m perfectly fine with wearing a suit.”
“You wore one when you were Blue Angel, though.”
She raised an eyebrow, not rising to his bait. “That was ten years ago. It’s been a long time since I wore anything even resembling a dress, both offline and online.” She gave him a tentative look in return, somewhat surprised. “Honestly, I didn’t think a suit would fit you as well it does. Are you sure this is the first time you’ve ever worn something formal?”
He shrugged, standing up and preparing his own breakfast. “More or less. It never really came up before now.”
“Given how excessively anti-social you used to be, I can believe that. It’s still hard to believe that you actually managed to make some friends. You didn’t exactly give off the best first impressions to anyone.”
He looked away from the stove to stare unamusedly at her. “That’s not very fair. You know how obsessed with revenge I was.”
She shrugged. “That’s true, I suppose. You still could have tried to at least make people not hate you the moment you started talking to them. Not everyone is like Naoki.”
Yusaku grumbled, turning back to where his breakfast had almost started burning. The conversation petered out, as Aoi left the kitchen to make sure everything was ready for them to leave.
She heard him yawn, and called loudly to him. “If you’re still half asleep, I’m driving!”
The drive to the venue was relatively quiet, the two of them content to just listen to music with little amounts of small talk between the songs. It was still a long, boring drive, but eventually, the three hour trip - by virtue of living in a completely different city - was finished as they arrived at their destination.
As she looked for a spot to park, Aoi quietly wondered if it would have been a better idea to just take a flight instead. It would have been more expensive, but the convenience factor would have been worth it. It didn't matter now. The choice had been made, and the damage was done. Inwardly, she delegated Yusaku as the driver on the way home. She shouldn’t have to drive the distance twice.
They walked the short distance to the venue in silence, but they were both visibly excited for the event. Almost immediately after they walked in, they were accosted by Takeru, who was even more of a chatterbox than usual.
“Yusaku! Aoi! You guys made it!” Then he looked to the side for a moment, thinking, then back at them. “Well, I expected Aoi to be here, at least. I haven’t seen you guys in ages! It’s been what, six months? It’s really hard to find the time to visit when you both live in the next city over.”
Yusaku chuckled. It was a rare, uncharacteristic sound from him, but she’d heard it before. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world, Takeru. How have you been?”
Before Takeru could respond, Aoi looked at Yusaku, a vindictive smile on her face. “Oh? Tell me, which one of us almost slept in and missed it?”
Yusaku grit his teeth in a forced smile as she threw him under the bus.
Takeru blinked in confusion, looking back and forth between them. “Wait, you two are living together? How long has that been going on?”
Aoi shrugged, counting the time in her head. “About… three years, now?”
Takeru gasped. “You never told me!” He cracked a sly smile. “So, when’s your wedding, then?”
Aoi rose a hand to her face, pinching the bridge of her nose with an exasperated sigh. “There’s not going to be a wedding, Takeru. You know it’s not like that.”
Yusaku finally had the chance to interject. “Although, that question is exactly why we didn’t tell you.” He looked around, confused. “Have you seen Kiku, yet?”
Takeru gave a laugh. “Of course not! Haven’t you ever been to a wedding before?”
“No,” Yusaku responded, voice completely deadpan. “I haven’t.”
“Oh.” Takeru sounded disappointed, but quickly perked up again. “Well, I guess it will be your first time, then!”
Aoi hummed. “I wonder how she’ll look in a wedding gown. She’s already pretty enough.”
Takeru blushed. “Pretty doesn’t describe her well enough. She’ll be beautiful! Perfect!” He appraised her own state of dress, then gave a short frown. “That’s a shame, though. She was looking forward to seeing how you would look in a dress, yourself.”
Aoi gave an apologetic smile. “Sorry, I don’t do dresses anymore.”
Takeru’s phone buzzed, and he pulled it out of his pocket, reading the message. “Ah, sorry, I’ve got to go! See you afterwards!” He waved, setting off at a quick pace towards the back rooms.
Aoi and Yusaku looked at each other, and then Aoi looked around the hall. “I suppose we should try talking to some of the other guests.” She began to move towards a small group of other women. “I’ll see you later.”
“Yeah.” Yusaku slowly made his way to where another group was chatting, a lost look on his face.
The ceremony was amazing. Takeru’s prediction was right, Kiku did look perfect in her wedding gown. She almost burst out laughing when Kiku appeared, as Takeru looked like he could barely keep himself from immediately running out and picking her up in his arms.
Their vows were exchanged, and soon enough it was all over. Honestly, Aoi didn’t think watching a wedding happen would ever get old. Each time was unique in its own way. Her brother’s one had been a spectacle, too.
She didn’t want her own, though. Getting married would be too much of a hassle.
They met up with Takeru and Kiku after the ceremony, the two of them smiling widely. Although, she was immediately set upon by Kiku, the newlywed woman grabbing her arms and moaning in disappointment.
“You’re not wearing a dress! I wanted to see you wearing a dress!”
She shook her arms free of the grip, laughing. “Sorry, Kiku. Dresses don’t suit me. This is much more comfortable.” She looked at the couple. “So, what are the plans now?”
They separated from Takeru and Yusaku, the two having their own conversation. Kiku smiled, clearly anticipating a fun future. “Well, we’re leaving to go on a holiday next week, actually! A long trip around the world, so we’ll be gone for a few months!”
Aoi’s eyes lit up. “That sounds interesting! I hope you have fun!”
Kiku’s smile changed, an intense look in her eyes as she stepped in close to Aoi. “So, I hear you and Yusaku are living together?”
Aoi rose her hands to Kiku’s shoulders, keeping her at a reasonable distance. “Not you, too. Look, we’re not even slightly interested in each other. This arrangement is just more convenient for the both of us.” She didn’t stutter at all while saying it. It was true, after all.
Kiku deflated, moaning in disappointment at her response. “You can’t blame me for wanting see my friends get married, too!”
“You have other friends, don’t you? Watch them get married, instead.”
Kiku shrugged, pouting at her. “Yeah, but I mean, you two are our best friends!” She quickly recovered, though, smiling at Aoi. “Will you two be staying the night? We should all hang out tomorrow before Takeru and I go on holiday!”
Aoi froze, internally swearing. She hadn’t thought about that. Hesitantly, she gave a response. “Sorry, I didn’t think about that, so we didn’t bring any spare clothes or anything.”
“So? You can borrow some of mine! I’m sure Takeru wouldn’t mind lending some to Yusaku, either. Let’s go see!” Kiku span around, almost tripping, but Aoi caught her and she set off towards Takeru. “Takeru! Yusaku! Come on, we’ve got to talk about something!”
Aoi smiled after her, following at a walking pace. She already knew what the conversation was, after all. There was no hurry.
She caught up just as Kiku had finished excitedly explaining her idea. “I don’t mind staying the night. What do you think, Yusaku?”
After thinking for a moment, Yusaku nodded. “I don’t have any deadlines to meet, so I’m fine with it. We should probably get going now and find a place to stay, though. I don’t want to impose on the two of you.”
“Alright!” Kiku said, waving goodbye at the two of them. “We’ll see you tomorrow, then!”
Aoi and Yusaku both smiled, raising their own hands in goodbye in return. “Yeah,” Aoi said, “We’ll see you both tomorrow.”
They left, leaving the couple to talk with the other guests, and made their way back to the car. Aoi looked at Yusaku. “So, what did you think?”
“It was interesting. Doesn’t make me want my own, though. Too expensive and inconvenient.”
Aoi laughed. “Yeah, that sounds like something you would say. Let’s go find somewhere to stay.” She pulled out her phone to check, showing him the screen. “What about this place? It should be pretty vacant around this time of year.”
He nodded. “Yeah, let’s go there.” He smiled. “It was good to see them again. It really has been too long.”