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Come Hell or High Water

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There was no doubt that this job was extremely dangerous, they make that known long before you even enlist. But even knowing this, Makishima still joined so many years ago, and hasn’t found himself regretting his decision once.

He loved being able to protect people, especially after his own home had been attacked by the kaiju. He was one of the lucky ones, having not lost any family members, but that day was what changed him, and soon after the attack, he joined the Pan Pacific Defense Corp.

And while he hasn’t come to regret it for a long, long time, suddenly, he was just maybe having second thoughts.

… No, that wasn’t quite right.

He wasn’t having second thoughts, he still wasn’t regretting his decision, but right now, he’s felt more fear than he has ever felt, even when he’s been face to face with some kaiju a few number of times.

Pacing outside of the medical bay, Makishima, for the umpteenth time, replayed the fight in his head and tried to figure out where everything went wrong. They weren’t strangers to fighting kaiju at this point, having gone 1v1 before, this mission should’ve been no different. Everything was going so smoothly, they had the upper hand for the longest time, easily dishing out as much as the kaiju was giving them, if not even more.

And then…

And then, just when they thought they won, it managed to do a lot of damage. Somehow, it even hit the wiring in their jaeger just right, and…

The pained scream he had heard from Toudou made Makishima feel as though his heart had stopped, and there was a hole ripped open on Toudou’s side of the conn-pod. Due to the drift, Makishima felt the pain in his arm and side like Toudou did, but he knew instantly the pain was nothing compared to the real thing Toudou was going through.

Makishima doesn’t remember much of what happened between then and when they miraculously returned to the shatterdome, where Toudou ended up falling to his knees even before they could leave the conn-pod, Makishima rushing over just in time to catch him before he completely collapsed. He remembered looking down at his hands once Toudou was taken away, and seeing his hands covered in dark red.

 

The two of them had met as new recruits, so many years ago. They were from two different areas of Japan, and Toudou hated Makishima’s oddly coloured hair straight off the bat. The very first thing he remembered being said was Toudou pointing at him and shouting, “What have you done with your hair?! Are you trying to look as weird as the kaiju?!”

Safe to say, the two of them didn’t get along very well at first. For some reason, Toudou had made Makishima his rival, and competed at everything with him, which was extremely annoying to Makishima. He didn’t understand why there needed to be competition of any kind, they were all aiming for the same goal, right? To finally stop the kaiju once and for all?

But he couldn’t deny that he got a bit of a thrill from it.

They went head to head over everything. Toudou always found a way to make whatever they were doing into a competition, and while Makishima complained that it was too much effort, he always gave whatever it was his all.

What made it so exciting was the fact that they were equals. Their win and lose ratio always evened out, neither of them getting ahead by the other more than one point. It was exciting to see who would come out on top.

Makishima, at some point, found himself thinking that being by Toudou’s side was fun. And then he realized he didn’t want to be anywhere without Toudou. And then, he realized that the only place he wanted to be was with Toudou, wherever that may be.

And then, he realized he was in love.

To state exactly when he began having those feelings, Makishima couldn’t tell you. It might have been at some point during their recruitment, or after they had been deemed drift compatible, or even after when they had piloted a jaeger for the first time in a test run. He really couldn’t tell you, but he can tell you that after the excitement of having won their very first fight with a kaiju, fighting against it with veteran pilots, after they had returned back to the safety of the shatterdome, it was there that they had their first kiss. It was clumsy, and with way too much adrenaline behind it, but it was a fond memory, and since then, the two of them have been facing hell together.

 

Makishima stared down at his hands, now free of the sticky blood, but just the memory of it made his stomach churn. The only thing that kept him grounded was the ring around his finger, softly shining under the harsh lighting of the shatterdome, but looking beautiful all the same. They were simple bands, rather cheap too, but they agreed to such a thing. Having a relationship inside a military base was difficult as is, the fact that they fought against giant monsters in giant robots made it even more so. If one of them lost their band, it wouldn’t be much of a loss.

Besides, they were waiting for the war to end, and then they would be able to get real wedding rings, ones that retained its colour and shine no matter how much abuse it went through.

They had agreed to get married once the kaiju situation was dealt with. Neither one of them could imagine parting from their post long enough for that, especially since they now had so many friends in the shatterdome who they would want to invite. Also, because they didn’t want to chance there being a kaiju attack and ruining the ceremony. Makishima ranted and raved about it numerous times before. Whoever ruined his wedding won’t live to see the next day, regardless if they’re a kaiju!!!

But now, staring down at the ring over his finger, with Toudou having been rushed to the medical bay….

Makishima startled a little at the noise of one of the large doors opening, turning to see that it was the one that belonged to the medical bay, and instantly, he felt his heart feel ready to explode. Luckily, it didn’t take the medic very long to get to the point, giving Makishima a reassuring smile.

“His injuries weren’t too bad,” the medic began explaining. “A lot of the injuries he sustained weren’t deep, but he will suffer from scarring, and will more than likely need to come in for therapy for the muscles that were shocked. We won’t know more until he wakes up, but he’ll be fine.”

Makishima felt light headed as relief filled his body. With the amount of blood he had on his hands earlier, he was sure that it was worse than that, but now, hearing the opposite, he felt as if his legs were going to give out from underneath him.

The medic picked up on the fact that Makishima was going through too many emotions to give a proper response, so they simply asked if he would want to go and see Toudou, and Makishima could only nod before following along behind, passing empty white beds, some being occupied by younger recruits that had gotten injured one way or another, but Makishima couldn’t bring himself to care about any of that, as the world fell away when they stopped in front of a curtain that surrounded the bed, cutting it off from the rest of the ward. With a simple gesture, the medic left, and Makishima stood in front of the curtain for a moment.

Never before had this happened to either of them in all their years of piloting. This was something foreign, and it put a disgusting feeling in Makishima’s chest.

As quietly as possible, and without making too much movement, Makishima pulled the curtain aside a bit and walked in, making sure it was secured behind him.

He hated this. He absolutely hated this.

Toudou lay sleeping, dressed in a white hospital gown, in a white hospital bed, with bandages wrapping one of his arms completely and some peeking out from the collar of his gown, hinting at his torso being wrapped up as well. Makishima tried to ignore the small bits of red that stained the bandages.

He stood there awkwardly for a few moments, shifting on his feet and rubbing at the back of his neck in a nervous habit before finally deciding to sit in the folded chair left next to the bed, probably put in there right before the medic came out to tell him about Toudou.

Luckily, he was seated on the side of Toudou that wasn’t bandaged up, so Makishima reached out and gently took Toudou’s hand in his and gave a gentle squeeze. He was once again flooded with relief to feel that Toudou’s hand was just as warm as always, though his complexion was a few shades off.

It was rare to see Toudou’s hair down, completely free of those god awful headbands he enjoyed wearing so much, even while completely in their pilot suits. Makishima could never understand how he was able to wear a headband while also wearing a helmet, and how he’s avoided being yelled at by the higher-ups thus far about it. Reaching out with his free hand, Makishima gently brushed the hair from Toudou’s face, knowing that as soon as he woke up, he'd throw a fit over it.

The funny thing about drifting with a person for so long was the side effects.

In the conn-pod, there were no secrets. Everything about the two of you was connected by the neural bridge, your memories, thoughts, emotions, everything. You became one person.

Drifting for so long, you start to experience this outside the conn-pod, so Makishima knew Toudou was about to wake up even before he started to show any signs of doing so. Makishima watched as Toudou began to stir awake, making a small noise in displeasure as he felt Toudou squeeze his hand a little.

He remained silent as Toudou slowly drifted into consciousness, watching as his eyes slowly blinked open and looked around a bit in confusion before his eyes fell on Makishima, and instantly, his expression softened, turning into a smile.

“Hey, Maki-chan,” Toudou said, his voice a little rough sounding, and nowhere near the loud volume he normally used, but just hearing Toudou’s voice made Makishima’s shoulders sag with the last bit of relief he had, letting out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding. His voice, the only thing to chase away the dark thoughts Makishima has, easing his heart.

“Jinpachi,” Makishima practically whispered with his sigh of relief.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Toudou said, his smile widening a bit and raising an eyebrow. “Did you really think I, the great Toudou Jinpachi, would be bested by a kaiju?” Even when laying in a hospital bed in a medical ward, scarred and bleeding, it was reassuring to know that Toudou remained as insufferable as ever. “We beat a category four kaiju, and all on our own. We should be celebrating right now, Maki-chan, not looking like the world almost ended.”

“My world almost did,” Makishima said, and was a little taken aback by his own boldness to say such words. This was another side effect of drifting with one Toudou Jinpachi, he was starting to say cheesy things.

At least this made Toudou laugh, even if it did cause him to wince in pain a few seconds later and was unable to continue. It made Makishima jump up in worry, though he knew there was nothing he could do to ease Toudou’s pain. Toudou just simply waved him off, taking a moment to collect himself once more.

In that process, Toudou’s hair had fallen from where Makishima had brushed it aside, and now Toudou was using his hand to brush it off of his forehead. “You didn’t happen to bring me a headband, did you?”

Makishima raised his eyebrows. “You can’t be wearing one while a patient in the medical ward, you know this.”

Toudou groaned a bit, pursing his lips into a pout. “But my hair, it’s gonna keep falling over my eyes, and I look really good with my hair pulled back. Maki-chan, help your poor fiance out, go get me a headband from my room, would you?”

At least it didn’t take very long for Toudou to return to himself, even if he was almost killed by a kaiju. And Makishima had already predicted the complaining. They knew each other too well.

“If you won’t get me a headband, can you get me some earrings then?”

“You can’t wear jewelry here either, not after the injuries you sustained.”

“Maki-chaaaaaan,” Toudou whined, dropping the arm that was in his hair onto the bed heavily, much like a child would do when throwing a fit.

With a noise of disbelief, Makishima shook his head at Toudou’s antics and overdramatics. Gently, he reached out and grabbed Toudou’s hand, holding it gently as he reached for something in his pocket, finding what he was looking for after a moment of searching. He put the ring over Toudou’s finger, as it slid into place easily. Looking up, he noticed Toudou’s expression had softened, watching Makishima put the ring on his hand before looking up to meet his gaze.

“Maki-chan,” Toudou said, taking a moment to collect his thoughts. “It’s on the wrong hand.”

…….

“Huh?”

“The ring. You put it on the wrong hand. It goes on my other one.”

“What does that matter?”

“It matters a lot! Each finger on each hand has a different meaning! You can’t just put it on a random hand all willy nilly, then it doesn't hold the same meaning!”

“How am I supposed to know that?! It’s some extreme knowledge only you know, no one else will notice! Besides, I’m already breaking the rules by letting you wear this, do you want me to take it back?”

Toudou gasped in offense and quickly snatched his hand away, holding it close to his chest, closed into a fist protectively. “No take backs, Maki-chan!! It’s mine, so I’m wearing it!!”

“Then quit complaining which hand it’s on, your other one is too bandaged up to wear it anyways.”

As if just realizing just now that his arm was wrapped up, Toudou looked down at it. He moved his arm up a little, making sure not to bend either his elbow or hand, as to not mess up the bandages, and winced a little as he did so. “Ah, that’s going to bother me for a while,” he said as he gently lowered his arm back down to the bed and turned back to look at Makishima, once again reaching out his hand, to which Makishima took instinctively. “What’d they tell you about my condition?”

Makishima told Toudou all that the medic had told him not too long ago, which wasn’t a whole lot to begin with, but any information was better than none, and he watched as Toudou subtly relaxed a bit. Toudou had been nervous about knowing the diagnosis, Makishima felt it this entire time. He was strong, and had been wearing a brave face since waking up, but even without the neural bridge, Makishima knew him too well.

And Toudou knew him as well.

When Makishima grew silent, Toudou didn’t say anything as well, letting the comfortable silence fill between them. He twisted the ring over Toudou’s finger this way and that, fidgeting with his hand as he remembered the thoughts he had from earlier.

They were engaged, planning to marry once this kaiju war was over with, but how long would that take? They’ve both already been here for a handful of years, and the kaiju attacks were only getting more and more severe, with increasing frequency. How much longer would they be able to go on like this together until…

Until something happens to one of them?

Waiting until the kaiju war was over, it was a foolish dream, one that they both clung to desperately, as it gave them something to actually look forward to past all this death and destruction and fear.

Makishima didn’t want there to be any regrets. If he were to get killed, he didn’t want to leave behind Toudou to sit there and wish for something that could no longer come true, and Makishima didn’t want to suffer the same.

However, he didn’t know how to bring it up, or the right words to say. His brain was too jumbled up, and words were never his strong suit. Toudou understood him so well because he didn’t have to talk, the neural bridge helped them to know what the other wanted without words.

And it seemed as though, this time, it was just the same.

“Maki-chan,” Toudou said, his voice once again soft, and Makishima looked up to see Toudou’s eyes on him as he wore a soft smile. “Let’s get married.”

“Are… you sure?” Makishima asked, eyes widening a little in surprise.

Toudou nodded.

There was only absolution in Toudou’s eyes. The neural link didn’t allow for lying.

Giving Toudou’s hand a smile squeeze, Makishima lowered his head, shaking it a bit as he did so. “Do you know how hard it is to get married at a military base?”

“I don’t care.”

“Do we even know anyone who is ordained?”

“There’s, like, thousands of people in the shatterdome, I’m sure we can find at least one person who is.”

“But you said you wanted to have a traditional wedding…”

“Maki-chan, look at me.”

Toudou gently placed his hand on Makishima’s cheek, a warm comfort, and obediently, Makishima looked up, to where Toudou was now leaning forward a bit in order to get closer to Makishima, though he could see the strain Toudou was going through to do so. “You’re overthinking again. Stop being so pessimistic. Do you want to get married?”

“Yes,” Makishima said with no hesitation.

“Then let’s do it.”

 

Somehow, finding someone ordained was a lot easier than Makishima expected. One mention of it to Kinjou and Tadokoro, and he had Tadokoro clapping him on the back and going on about how Makishima was lucky, as he had just recently been involved in a ceremony involving one of his relatives getting married not too long ago. It was a little shocking, but in the end, Makishima wasn’t too surprised by it. He remembered Tadokoro being given leave for a while a month back.

So that was at least taken care of easily enough, it had been the part Makishima had worried about the most, so it was lucky that there wasn’t much hassle.

The next part that had to be taken care of was finding someone that could count as a witness, and really, that wasn’t too hard either, as Toudou had told him to drag Shinkai along, as he more than likely wasn’t doing anything important, and was the least likely to bully him over it later.

What they didn’t expect, however, was to be stopped by medical personnel before they could even begin, as the curtain was opened and the person standing there was wearing a disappointed expression on their face.

“I’m sorry,” they said, looking around, “but we only allow one visitor at a time for those in more serious conditions. I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you all to--”

Toudou let out a groan from where he lay in the bed. He insisted that the two of them do the ceremony as quickly as possible, as he couldn’t wait until he got better to go through with it, far too impatient now that it’s actually happening. They may have been engaged for a long time, but that didn’t mean anything when they were so close right now.

“We know there are rules, but can’t you make an exception just this once?” Toudou asked. Normally, he’d work up the charms a lot more to get what he wanted, but with how impatient he is, and with how he probably realizes he looks like a mess right now, Toudou didn’t go to the extreme he normally did.

“Can’t you see these two are about to get married?” Tadokoro added on, though… that wasn’t too convincing at all.

The medic opened and closed their mouth a few times in confusion, probably not believing at all what Tadokoro said.

“These two just risked their lives to fight a category four kaiju, you can cut them a bit of slack,” Shinkai added on from where he sat, having stolen the only chair in the enclosed area as soon as he walked in. He held open a hand, spreading out his fingers. “Five minutes is all we need.”

Still very taken aback, the medic didn’t say anything for a few moments before looking around and giving a huff, “five minutes, starting now,” and walked away, closing up the curtain behind them.

Toudou let out a short yell in victory as Shinkai and Tadokoro gave each other a high five, and all Makishima could do was shake his head with a fond smile on his face. He had been so ready to throw in the towel just now, to put it off until Toudou got better enough for them to actually go through with it, but his friends were ridiculous, and wouldn’t let anything stop them.

Since Shinkai and stolen the only chair, Makishima sat on the edge of Toudou’s bed, careful to not move too much so as to not accidentally hurt him. Shinkai had no worries about this, as he turned to place his feet on the bed, leaning back in the chair. “You heard it, better get started.”

“Get your nasty shoes off my bed,” Toudou wrinkled his nose in disgust, kicking at Shinkai’s shoes from under the blanket. “You’re getting it all dirty.”

“Consider it my wedding gift then.”

“That’s nasty, you’re so inconsiderate.”

Makishima listened to the two of them bicker for a while more as both nerves and excitement made him feel like he wouldn’t be able to talk right now.

This feeling he was getting right now, it was a similar feeling to when him and Toudou would compete. It was the feeling of uncertainty, not knowing how it was going to end, but excited to see how the scores would even out. And it was only because it was Toudou who was against him. But right now, they weren’t competing. They were facing this together, side by side.

The future was scary and uncertain, but Makishima knew that as long as he had Toudou by his side, it would remain exciting and fun, and he was looking forward to it.

Even though he knew that there was a likely chance that this ceremony won’t count, that they legally won’t be married until they get all the proper paperwork in order, none of that mattered. Right now, this was as real as it got, and whatever happened after this, whether they lived long enough to have a real wedding or if they should die in battle, Makishima wouldn’t have any regrets, because either way, Toudou was by his side.

 

“And now, you may kiss!” Tadokoro shouted enthusiastically after all the vows and such were done, looking very happy and proud of himself.

Shinkai quickly shook his head and got to his feet. “Not until we leave,” he said as he shoved at Tadokoro, beckoning him outside of the curtain.

Toudou laughed hysterically. “Shinkai!! Don’t you want to see Maki-chan and I kiss?! You’re our witness, afterall!!”

“I’d really rather not, you two show disgusting amounts of PDA already,” Shinkai said over his shoulder, quickly closing the curtain behind himself, and Makishima listened as the two of them left the medical ward, with Tadokoro commenting about Shinkai’s eagerness to leave, but it all just drowned out into background noise as he looked down at the ring on his finger.

It was the same exact ring from five minutes ago, the one that was dull and cheap and didn’t fit on his finger quite right, but now, it held a deeper meaning. It was no longer an engagement ring, but a wedding ring. He can now say that him and Toudou are husbands. It filled Makishima with something warm, making his stomach twist happily.

A hand covered his, and Makishima looked up to see Toudou beaming at him. He obviously was thinking the same exact thing as him, feeling the same exact emotions. They were married now. They were husbands.

With his free hand, Makishima reached out and gently brushed Toudou’s hair from his face once again, tucking it behind his ear and leaving his hand to gently cup his face. Makishima can’t remember a time he was this happy.

“Jinpachi,” he called out.

“Maki-chan,” Toudou answered.

“I love you.”

He watched as Toudou’s face visibly reddened as his smile grew impossibly wider. “I love you, too.”

Makishima leaned in, and the kiss they shared was nothing like their first kiss. It was slow, steady, and patient, but it made his heart flutter all the same.

Come hell or high water, they’d face it together.