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The Long (Long) of It

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The day of Tooru and Chi's wedding was unforgettable. It is one of a handful of days to have truly changed my life, second only to the day I first discovered Sakeru gummies, both long and short. After all, without the gummies, I would never have found those two. Nor would I have enjoyed such a large assortment of delicious gummy treats in an abundance of fruity flavours.

All who were involved in the failed flash mob proposal were invited to the wedding. Perhaps the commitment was made on his part in a moment of excitement during its preparation, but when a handsome and charismatic man throws a pile of wedding invitations at a room full of people, it only feels right to take him at his word. Of course, my intentions may not have been entirely pure or in the best interests of the couple, however a man has the right to make his feelings known.

Perhaps it would have been simpler if I'd been given the opportunity to confess before the wedding. However, finding the man alone had proven nigh-impossible. I thought I may have found a way to make my intentions clear when presented with a delivery Chi's apartment, however they were living apart at the time, saving the purity of their lives until their wedding day. Perhaps it was admirable. I found it nothing but frustrating. As it was, the wedding was my only choice.

And so, I put on my tailcoat, assembled a bouquet of the finest long gummies available, and arranged for a stretch limousine to take me to the scene of my destiny.

The ride wasn't long, and yet it was fraught with worry. I am, in general, not one to try to cause a scene, and yet it was unavoidable in the current situation. All I could do was to pray to the kami and to Buddha that I'd be forgiven for my actions, and that all would be able to resume a peaceful life, no matter what the outcome.

And before I knew it, I had arrived.

Bells were ringing, and it was clear to see both bride and groom smiling amongst a crowd of happy onlookers. Perhaps I was too late, and my entire mission was still for naught. However, my honour insisted I try nonetheless, and so I called for the driver to see me out so that I might see my mission through.

Time seemed to stop when I stepped out of the car. The loud cheers died down, and all eyes were on me, waiting to see who exactly I was, and what my purpose was in arriving at such an event after the ceremony had already passed.

Chi greeted me cheerfully, and some words passed between the couple, but I hardly heard any of it through the pounding of my heart as I walked towards the object of my deepest affections.

If I had been turned away, I would have taken it in stride and continued on with my life, never to see him or his beautiful wife ever again. However, the decision on how to take my feelings could not be made without my first laying them bare. And so, taking in a deep breath, I did the only thing I could, and confessed my love to Tooru.

I saw the confusion in his eyes turn to wonderment, and in a heartbeat, his hand was on my prized gummies as I gingerly touched his.

An eternity existed in that moment, one that I revisit in my darkest times when I need the bright light of love and hope to make it through the day. However, in reality, less than a minute passed before the crowd picked up again, this time in a wave of mixed emotions. I couldn't blame them for not knowing how to react: it was an unprecedented, yet emotionally charged situation.

And then, my life changed once again as Tooru extended a hand to both Chi and myself, and led us back to my limousine.

Chi's eyes kept darting back and forth between the two of us as she cycled through tumultuous emotions. She looked as if she was about to cry, or ask a barrage of questions, or yell at one of both of us for ruining her wedding day, but no words or tears came. She was confused and unsure of how to handle all that had just happened, and I couldn't blame her in the least.

A better man may have apologized to her, but I couldn't bring myself to say the words aloud, for my thoughts still only for Tooru. At one point, the man looked a moment or two away from hyperventilation, but I could see him calming down as the car ride continued.

Finally, he gathered his courage and asked my name.

It's a funny thing, to have such a love without even knowing your partner's name, isn't it? And yet, that's the way our story began. I'd gleaned their names along the way, murmured in fond tones and written on delivery slips, but there was nothing like hearing them aloud.

Tooru made my heart soar, and Chi made bells ring. That day, both names were truly engraved upon my heart.

From names, our talks continued to our work, our lives, and how our unique love story came to be. Chi and Tooru explained how they met while waiting for rooms at a local karaoke shop, and I spoke of how they'd caught my eye when eating gummies on a picnic. Uncertainty grew to ease and soon laughter; every moment feeling more and more as though we'd been at each other's sides through lifetimes, rather than having met at a distance over the course of a year. By the time we'd arrived at my home, our way forward was clear: we would live together, as a three-part unit.

Of course, once we'd arrived, few words were needed. They gave way to passionate touches and lingering kisses as we discovered each other anew. And thus, an unforgettable day gave way to an unforgettable night: the first of many to come.

Mere days later, we were making a home together. Tooru made the transition first; he'd already planned to move in with Chi after the nuptials were completed. Chi made arrangements to cancel her lease and collect her things, and was ready to join us shortly thereafter.

As full as I thought my heart would be during those few days of male bonding, everything felt incomplete without Chi's bell-like laughter and sweet, if slightly selfish temperament. Not even peach flavoured Sakeru gummies could fill the void.

Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of having the hole in one's heart filled. Our first day reunited was full of joy; our first night more passionate than any I have ever known.

From that day forward, we made a point of spending as much time together as possible. When we returned from work, we would each handle our own chores: I would cook supper and the following day's lunches, Tooru would clean the washrooms, or else dust and vacuum, and Chi would purchase the items we requested on her way home, and then take care of our bills and assorted paperwork. After we dined, the night would be ours to do as we pleased, whether that was watching variety shows, retiring early, or simply eating gummies and enjoying each other's company.

On weekends, we would work on our garden: a space that was meant to serve as a testament of the love we all shared. We planted a tree in the center and surrounded it with flowering plants and vegetables alike. The garden would provide beauty, but also sustenance. We prayed that our love would do the same.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of coming inside, covered in dirt and sweat after a day of hard work with those you love. On those days, we would order dishes from the several nearby restaurants, take turns in the shower and bath, and then settle in for an evening of relaxation together.

It was on one of those nights that Chi, the true agent of change amongst the three of us, brought us the news that would transform our collective world once again. Tooru was shocked at the revelation that his wife was pregnant, but my heart had no room for anything but happiness at the thought of our family expanding from three to five.

There is nothing easy about preparing for twins. It requires nearly twice the budget of a single child, without the luxury of twice the time. And I, for one, knew nothing of being a parent, outside of what knowledge my parents had imparted during my own childhood. I took to reading, gleaning what I could from books on the subject: both about pregnancy and the rearing of children. Tooru didn't quite have the attention for such lengthy texts as I did, but he supplemented my knowledge with video tutorials on every subject imaginable.

Together, we prepared the nursery, babyproofed our house, and shopped for our children's every need. Chi's friends held her a shower and provided a small mountain of gifts, which we used to supplement our purchases. Tooru, a master with his hands, massaged Chi each night as we discussed what we still needed to accomplish, and how our lives would need to change. He agreed to assist with the children during the day, as best he could, and I would see to their needs during the long, long nights. Names were discussed, safety ratings were compared, and both Tooru and I ran to get Chi whatever length and flavour of gummy she was craving.

Twins are often born prematurely, and so it was no great surprise when the babies came early; about eight and a half months into Chi's pregnancy. We both were by her side as she was rushed to the hospital, and remained by her side throughout the labour, leaving only to procure food and to call our parents in turn. Somehow, the process was both long and short: the labour lasted several hours, but the children came close together: first Saki, then Kakeru.

Whatever I thought love was, the meaning evolved tenfold as I met my children for the first time. Tooru flitted between the two of them, trying to see if he could figure out their biological parentage on-site, but it mattered very little to me. As far as my heart was concerned, the children were mine and all of ours.

When I first met Chi and Tooru, I never imagined that we'd build a life together. However, standing in a hospital room with an exhausted Chii holding our twin children, and an excited yet drained Tooru sinking into the chair at my side, I found myself looking forward to the times that laid ahead. In that moment, feeling that much love and joy even amongst the exhaustion, I truly knew I was the luckiest man in the world.