Kota Ibushi has never really been much of a dancer.
He's got the grace for it, certainly, but he isn't quite the type. He never has been. He will admit, he does enjoy watching the dancing going on around him. Women in long, flowing gowns, twirling. Men swaying in their suits.
Everyone is masked, and it feels like it's a scene right out of a book. The polished floors, the high ceilings, the food and drink. It's all so far out of his comfort zone.
He shifts in place slightly. The tie feels suffocating, and the suit is far from comfortable, but he's adjusting to the formalwear with relative ease. He was the heir to the House of Ibushi after all, and appearances are important. He was very uncomfortable in this environment, but his father had insisted upon throwing a masquerade, and it wasn't in his nature to argue with him.
Far too much effort for no gain at all.
Kota may be one of the most stubborn men on earth, but he had to learn it from someone. When it comes to his father, he knows when to cut his losses, and this is one of those situations. He'll have to endure this needlessly elaborate party, and all the uncomfortable socialisation that comes with it.
This was yet another futile attempt to encourage him to socialise, he knows that much. There are people from many factions and associations in attendance, all of whom would make excellent allies, if he were at all concerned with making connections for business purposes.
He has little interest in politics, or making powerful friends, and all the other things someone like of his position or status should be thinking about. He has more interest in, well, his interests.
So he stands here in the corner, at his own damn party, avoiding eye contact with absolutely everybody.
His suit is elegantly tailored, and fits him well. His tie is tied neatly and his shirt is pristine. His mask is golden, with accents of blue and white, featuring a star motif. He had thought the concept childish at first, but when he saw how elegant and understated the mask turned out, he had almost been excited at the opportunity to wear it. Almost.
It's intricate and delicate, and the most comfortable part of his ensemble. It doesn't do too good a job at concealing his face, since it's a variation on the type of Venetian mask typically referred to as a Columbina, a half mask covering the space around his eyes. He isn't too concerned with concealing himself, anyone who is here knows who he is, he's probably the reason they're here.
He receives multiple offers to dance, and makes a point of turning each one down. He's not looking for any suitors, he's not looking for anything at all. He doesn't need rumours flying just because he decided to be polite.
He knows he has to pick someone soon, but he's far from eager. Everyone is just so serious, takes everything far too seriously. He's just not interested in people like that.
All he wants is some free time, time enough to get lost in a daydream, or a really good book. He's never really been the type for these boring pleasantries, nor semantics. He can sort the specifics of power and success when they become a problem, and not a moment earlier.
He's content to bleed into the background, just sipping his drink and watching the people go by. Nothing seems out of the ordinary, except for a cluster of three men about 20 feet away.
They clearly don't quite belong here, but nobody seems to care. They aren't causing any harm, so they're ignored. Two of the men are clearly brothers, but the third man is the one that catches his eye.
The first thing he realises is that he is absolutely beautiful. His mask is reminiscent of a Morpho butterfly, striking blue wings edged with inky black. The bright turquoise brings out the blue in the stranger's eyes, even from this distance.
Kota watches, as he talks and laughs with the two brothers. He examines the blue-eyed man's movements, the way he talks with his hands, hands that are clad in black leather. The easy that he moves, moves with the confidence and smugness of a man who looks good and knows it.
If he were better with words, maybe he would walk over, introduce himself to this handsome stranger. Perhaps if he were feeling particularly brave he would ask the man to dance.
He shakes off the daydream. The reality is, he's perfectly content to be a wallflower. He just feels uncomfortable interacting directly, and comfortable watching from afar. Hearing snippets of conversations and stealing glances at the pretty stranger is a far more preferable method.
And so, he silently watches from a distance, trying to ignore the heat in his cheeks as he and the blue-eyed stranger lock eyes.
Kenny was more than impressed that they got this far. What with the feud between the two houses, he had expected it to be significantly more difficult to find his way in. He's still pretty chuffed they got here at all.
He knows his parents would kill him if they knew he was here, but that just adds to the thrill.
He talks and laughs with Matt and Nick, with their matching deer masks, a reference to a long-standing inside joke. Kenny can't take either of the brothers seriously while they're wearing them, but it's not like they can take them off.
He's looking through the crowd, wondering if anyone knows who they are, even with the masks. It wouldn't surprise him, but no one seems to be even close to aware of their identities. That's good, he knows that they stand out quite a bit.
For a brief second, he locks eyes with a man across the room.
His eyes are cedar-brown, and his lashes are long. There's something dreamy in those eyes, something so unlike anything he's ever seen in his life, and it's beautiful. He feels sparks, as their worlds collide for the first time. He doesn't know who this man is, but he knows that he wants to learn. He wants to know everything, his soul is calling out to him
The man on the end of his gaze blushes, gaze darting to the floor. Kenny can't help a smirk and a soft laugh at that. He takes a single step, starting to make his way over, maybe flirt with the other a bit, maybe dance, maybe they could both abandon this party altogether.
"Kenny?" Matt says, grabbing onto his wrist. He sighs loudly, with just the smallest touch of longing. "Please tell me you aren't about to do something very, very stupid."
"Come on, matt!" Kenny huffs, rolling his eyes. "You were fine with sneaking in here."
Matt has always been wound a little too tightly. He's cautious, reasonably so, but Kenny can't help but feel that he needs to live a little.
"I wasn't fine with it!" He hissed back. "I'm shocked we haven't been recognised as it is."
"You still came with us." Kenny added.
"Yeah, like I was going to let you dumbasses die alone."
Kenny grins. There's his Matt.
"Why can't I have a little fun? You may be married, but I'm certainly not." He adjusts his mask, stealing a glance at the brown eyed man. He knows he's keeping an eye on him, but simultaneously seems to be lost in his own little world. He smiles faintly, but matt snaps him out of it.
"Hey. Earth to Kenny!"
"I've already said this about three times, so listen up." Matt puts a hand on his shoulder. "Just be careful, Kenny. This isn't a game, our lives are at stake if we get caught."
"I'm not that stupid, Matt. I'm sure I can avoid anyone too high-profile."
"Just meet back up at the end of the night, okay?" Matt sighs, deflating. Kenny grins, eyes sparkling with pure mischief.
"Well, that all depends on how well this goes-"
Nick smoothly high-fives his friend, and Matt pinches the bridge of his nose.
"You're incorrigible, you know that?
"You love it." Kenny grins, before turning away and walking over with confidence.
The words pull Kota out of his reverie, back to reality. The stranger's tone is flirtatious and enticing, and Kota is just thankful he doesn't blurt out anything stupid and embarrass himself.
Heat colours his cheeks as he looks down at the stranger, properly taking him in.
His curls are unruly and charming smile is slightly askew, but he still looks elegant as ever, as he offers a gloved hand to the young heir. His ocean blue eyes, emboldened by the blue of his mask, are sparkling with mischief.
The moment their hands touch is like lightning striking him, energy rushing through him. It's like opening his eyes for the first time, trying to take in all these new and welcome sensations.
The stranger's fingers interlock with his, and the friction of the stranger's gloved palm against his feels like fireworks. The warm weight of his arm around Kota's waist is so comforting he could start purring. Every touch feels right, like it's something that's been missing all his life.
They sway to the music, and Kota feels as comfortable and secure as he's ever been.
Sparks fly, and he feels his soul catch fire. It's the ice breaking, stars colliding, the final piece falling into place. When they lock eyes once more, Kota can see his own longing reflected in the stranger's eyes.
His head spins along with them, as he spirals outward, and back into the stranger's arms. Not a word has been spoken, yet they are dancing together like they've been doing it all their lives.
The stranger pulls him a little bit closer with the arm around his waist, bringing him into a spin. He doesn't object, wants the other man as close as possible. They keep swaying to the music as the band plays.
Their blissful silence is still intact, but they known they can both feel the charged energy in the air, how could they not? It's magical, there is just something between them, some connection that they'll probably never understand, one that intertwines their fates.
"Meet me in the gardens at midnight." He whispered into his ear, breathless. "Come alone."
The handsome stranger nods and their eyes meet again, blue meeting brown like waves crashing upon the docks. If they were alone, maybe one of them would lean in. but they can't, not here. People will talk, and neither of them can afford that.
"Without the mask, I want to see your face." The stranger requests.
"Of course." Kota smiles, and it makes his heart stutter. Kenny can feel Matt and Nick watching him.
"I should go now." He says, glancing over at his friends. "But I will be there, I promise you."
Nick is watching the pair dance, hands in his pockets. Matt has gone to grab some drinks, struggling to find anything that's non-alcoholic. When he gets back, his jaw drops at who Kenny is dancing with.
"Is Kenny dancing with the heir?"
Nick nodded casually in reply, taking one of the drinks from Matt's hand. "Yup. He turned down everyone else, too." He sighs and smiles. "Bold and stupid, that's our Kenny."
"I look away for one goddamn second-"
Nick thinks about it for a moment before shrugging "Also, I don't think he knows."
"How could he not know? They're arch enemies."
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but they've never actually met, have they? They've seen portraits, but the masks are enough misdirection to confuse them. There's no way for either of them to know-"
"We should warn him." Matt says decisively, about to storm over, and Nick keeps him back with an arm.
"No, wait. I wanna see how this goes." Nick says, and Matt just looks at him, incredulous. "They both seemed super into it. Don't ruin it for them."
Matt sighs, relaxing. "You do know that I'm supposed to be the bad influence, not the other way around?"
"When has anything we do ever been simple?" Nick chuckles. "But seriously, don't say anything to him, he's probably feeling pretty proud of himself."
Matt and Nick watch the two, keeping an eye out for their friend. There's actually moment where they're each pretty sure Kenny might actually get some action like he had implied. Of course, it passes and the two part, because Kenny is painfully awkward like that.
The two brothers look at each other with matching grins, already internally planning their usual comedy routine, one that is sure to drive Kenny up the wall.
Kota has never snuck out before. Especially not at night.
It's not quite as difficult as he initially expected, but it's still not easy. He'd gotten past the guards without getting caught, but that's not the same as getting past with little issue.
He knows their routines, and yet he still had to dart into a crevice multiple times to prevent himself from getting caught.
The night is dark and conceals him well, what with the black cloak he is wearing. The lantern he holds is light enough to guide him, but not arouse suspicion.
The frosted grass crunches beneath his feet as he walks to the gardens, slipping into the labyrinth of rose bushes. He knows the pathway like the back of his hand, wanders aimlessly through it, studying the roses as he goes past. He's not sure how, but they're in bloom, petals encrusted with ice from the frost.
He reaches the centre of the maze with little issue. He waits in the rose garden, sat upon a bench there.
Kenny had a far easier time getting out. A tree branch extends out, close to his balcony, and he's had plenty of practice at being light and quick.
He leaps over the balcony, bending his knees to absorb the impact. He holds on tightly to the branch, lowering his legs down. The branch bends, and he drops down to the grass in a three-point landing.
He pulls on the hood of his cloak, making sure his face is obscured. He smiles, and walks down to the labyrinth. He hadn't the foresight to bring anything to light his way, which is painfully on brand for him.
It's pitch black, as he navigates the maze. It takes him far longer than expected, but he gets there. He hears the bell, tolling at the stroke of midnight. He's not too late.
He sees Kota and freezes. His enemy, a man he's despised since the beginning. The rival heir.
The words are drawled out, a sneer. Kota's eyes flick up, and there's the stranger. But he isn't a stranger. They've never met officially, but he's no stranger. He rises to his feet, almost without realising. It is him, the same curls, same endless eyes.
It's also the man from the portraits he's seen.
The heir to the Omega family.
"Omega?" He sneers right back, stepping closer to him. It's much softer than he had initially intended, but it does the job. They stare each other down, faces only an inch apart. It hits Kota then, that he had been dancing with the enemy.
There's a silence, and prolonged eye contact. Neither man wants to be the one to look away.
Kenny smirks, as he begins to speak. He has an aura of power and control about him, and Kota feels so hopeless, so unprepared to fight back against this feeling.
"You feel it too, don't you?" Kenny's voice is soft, but still taunting. "Those sparks."
It's like a game, to see who will crack first. Kenny's fingertips slide against Kota's palm, just barely brushing his skin, and Kota jolts at the rush. Kenny chuckles softly, low in his throat, and heat rushes to Kota's face. He tilts Kota's chin up to look at him.
"Answer me, Kota." He breathes softly, and Kota's knees grow weak as he nods.
"I felt it." He said, growing a little more confident.
"Good." Kenny purrs, faking confidence like he always does when he feels this helpless. "Do you feel it now?"
The boldness of the words catches him so off guard that he takes a moment to think, but then Kenny's hands are holding his waist. Kota freezes. The motion was unexpected yet welcome, he wants nothing more than to melt into the touch, but the way he seems so hesitant is worrying from Kenny's perspective.
Kenny's voice is gentle and genuine. "You can pull away, Kota. You can tell me to stop, just say the word and I will."
"Don't." He begs, hating the thought of being apart from him again. "Don't let go." Kota whispers.
Kenny pulls him closer by the hips, into an embrace, arms sliding up his back to hold onto his shoulders. Kota's back lights up under the touch, as if he's hyper-aware of everything.
"I won't." Kenny promises him, forehead resting on Kota's. Their noses are touching, lips millimetres apart, briefly brushing against each other as he speaks. "I won't let you go unless you want me to."
Kota is the first to break, eager to taste Kenny's lips. Kenny is clearly surprised, even a little nervous, but he wants this, he craves it, he feels it deep in his bones. They both need it, it's an inevitability.
The kiss is long, long and sweet. A single moment, a single breath, but enough to change both of their worlds forever. They part only when air becomes scarce, keeping each other's bodies close.
"Dance with me?" Kota murmurs, and they sway together. They let their bodies do the talking as they dance together, spinning and swaying to the empty midnight ambience.
It's gentle and natural, they barely have to think. It flows free like a river, as they dance under the stars, as if they've done this before. And maybe they have, a thousand times in a thousand lifetimes, and maybe in the next they'll do it again.
As the dawn begins to bleed over the horizon, they know they must part. They share a final kiss goodbye, and Kota leads him out of the labyrinth.
The next night is the same. They sneak out to meet at the rose garden once more.
Kenny greets him with a kiss, he melts into the warmth of his touch. They sit side by side on the bench, arms around one another as they begin to talk about their lives. How Kota barely leaves his room, preferring the quiet over the people.
"But I wouldn't mind sharing my space. Not if it's with you."
Kenny smiles warmly at that. It's something so pure, the way Kota looks up at him, smiling coyly. His space is clearly something important to him.
"Tell me about yourself, tell me everything." He asked eagerly. Kenny plants a kiss to the top of his head, a gentle display of love.
"Well... I take a lot of classes. I just want my uncle to be proud of me- He has such high expectations, and I do struggle to meet them. I go to all my classes, I do extras... basically the opposite of what you do." He laughs softly. "It's not all bad though. I have some great friends."
"The brothers that were with you at the party?"
"Yeah. They're great. Matt keeps me from getting into too much trouble, and Nick makes me laugh. I wish you could meet them, but... you know."
"I don't think they would like me that much." Kota remarks, quietly.
"I hate the divide between our families. Nobody can actually remember what happened... we just hate each other. It's all so pointless."
Kota nods in agreement, listening like Kenny is the only thing that matters in the world. He lets him ramble, listening to every word. It's so touching.
"You're adorable." Kota said softly.
"You're charming." Kenny replied, ears a little bit red with embarrassment at the compliment.
"I love you."
They say it at the same time, and it's enough to make them both laugh. They lay on the grass and watch the stars together. Kota points out the constellations, head resting on Kenny's chest. Kenny has an arm around him, keeping his body close.
"You're the only star I need, Kota." Kenny says softly, looking down at him. It's such a short phrase, but said with so much adoration. Kota swears his heart could explode.
He doesn't even know what to say in response, just leans up to press a lazy kiss to his lips.
"One day," Kenny says. "When we're ready, we'll run away together. We'll get a modest little house, maybe some sheep. We'll be so happy, I swear it. Or maybe when we are in charge, we'll marry and unite our houses."
Kota smiles at him, brightly, and it makes Kenny's heart melt. "I'd love that, any of it. As long as it's with you."
As the stars begin to fade, they part once more.
This routine persists for many nights, and it's a routine they never tire of, but their comfort catches up to them. They grow complacent.
They're sat there on the bench, exchanging casual kisses and playful jokes. Just being in love, doing the same thing they do every night. They're a lot more tired from all the sleep they've skipped, but their need for each other outweighs the need for sleep.
Kota's father is taking a late night walk in the grounds, and comes across the two lovers. Hands intertwined, laughing together.
Kota leans over to kiss Kenny again, but his father's voice stops him in his tracks, just inches from Kenny's lips.
"Just what do you think you're doing?"
Kota freezes, and just looks at Kenny. Begging with his eyes to do something, because they both know he'll never be let out again if his father can help it.
"I can explain-" he tried, but he had no explanation handy, and they both knew it. Kota's hand is gripping Kenny's tightly. Kenny may be no stranger to bending the rules, but Kota has never been this defiant before. He's never had to be.
"How did this happen?" His father asks. It's a demand, rather than a question. Kenny keeps Kota close as he struggles to find the words.
"It was at the party. He asked to dance and I didn't know who he was, but it just felt right. So I said yes. I wanted to meet him again so I told him to meet me here and-" he took a shaky breath. "I love him."
"Son. Step away from him, now."
He looks at Kenny, leans forward to press a kiss to his forehead, a final gift. Kenny looks down, as Kota whispers to him.
"Meet at my balcony."
He pulls away and returns to his father's side. There aren't quite tears in his eyes. It doesn't feel right to cry, he just feels an aching emptiness.
"And you." Kota's father glares. "Will be tried before the court."
They both know banishment is the cost for this, there will be no way to evade it, as the judge will rule in his father's favour. It's ridiculous, how merely interacting with a member of the opposing house for an unsanctioned purpose was considered criminal.
Kota's eyes shut as he tries to take a deep breath.
Kota isn't speaking to his father. In fact, he's not speaking at all. He blocks everything else out, wallows in his misery and loss. It's unlike him.
Everything he's ever known has been turned on its head, and just as he was beginning to make sense of everything, his father cut the lines.
And now he's falling.
The first pebble bounces off Kota's window. Kenny is standing there, throwing them to try get his attention. After all, he did say to meet him on the balcony.
Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
More pebbles follow the first, in quick succession. Unfortunately for Kenny, Kota had opened the door, and got bonked in the face by a pebble. He's not hurt, and so they laugh together.
Kota has a similar tree to the one beside Kenny's balcony, and he climbs it so they can be closer together.
The smiles don't last. They know they have to address the elephant in the room.
"What are we going to do? I was thinking of running away... coming with you, but- my father has made it clear that's not even a possibility."
"You could wait." Kenny says. "I know it's not ideal... but maybe you could wait until you have the power to lift the banishment."
"I won't ever have that kind of power." Kota sighs. "And it's not like I can leave at that point, I have a duty to my family. But... I don't want to live without you."
"Then don't." Kenny said. "If... if we can't be together in life, then- maybe we can be together in death."
Kota thinks it over for a moment. Really thinks about what they would lose. He nods solemnly, helping Kenny up onto the balcony. Together, they barricade the door.
"Are you sure this is what you want, Kota?" He's not afraid of death, but he is afraid Kota is just going along with this because he said so. "I mean, truly-"
Kota presses a finger to his lips to hush him. "I'm sure, Kenny. I love you."
"One moment-" he mumbled, rifling through his pocket. He pulls out a ring box, getting down on one knee.
"You bought me a ring?"
"Couldn't get the thought of you wearing it out of my mind." He admitted. Kota pulled out his own ring box.
"I was going to give this to you." He says softly.
"It's beautiful." Kenny says. "I'm sorry we can't have a big ceremony."
"You're all I need." Kota says softly, burying his face in Kenny's chest. He's already on the edge of tears, as they both sit on his bed.
Kota takes Kenny's hand, slipping the ring on his finger. They're both shaking slightly.
"I, Kota Ibushi... take you, Kenny Omega to be my husband... to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish.." His chest heaves, and he sobs his way through the next few words. "till death us do part...."
Kenny does the same, slipping the ring on Kota's finger, pulling him tight to his chest as he recites the vows. They just hold each other for a moment, neither of them speaking. Just the closeness, for a moment.
They were never meant to be, were they? There was not time for them, no place for them. Their meeting had built a dream, on that was supposed to slip away from them. This was never supposed to happen, and yet they had fought against everything the universe had thrown at them. And now, they would have forever. They could love forever.
"Are you sure about this, Kota? If you're even a little unsure, you can back out. I'll understand."
"No... I need this. We need this. I can't be without you."
"Together, then." He whispers, passing Kota one half of his set of twin daggers.
There had never been a chance for them, it was all decided for them, there's only ever been this one sweet moment set aside for them.
Kota is calm and unafraid as he wraps his hand around the hilt. It's unfamiliar in his grip.
"You're beautiful, Kota. I love you so much." Kenny whispers, planting kisses across his face.
"I love you, Kenny. Never forget that." He whispers.
He dares to love forever.
The entry of the dagger is far from painless, and Kenny muffles the gentle cry with a kiss. Blood spreads across the sheets, and the two lovers hold each other tightly.
They hear some faint commotion, probably a servant realising that the door is barricaded. It doesn't matter now, not at the world fades, fades to just the two of them. He lays there silently, fingers interlocked with Kenny's. He's losing so much blood that he feels like he's floating, the pain is almost non-existent now.
He smiles at Kenny, one last time.
Who waits forever anyway?