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we’re looking for something dumb to do

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Looking back, Kaoru doesn’t know if he ever regretted it. But right now, with Kojiro oscillating between fear and amusement on the other side of the room and the kids looking between the two of them with so many questions in their eyes... He was feeling downright murderous.

"YOU’RE MARRIED?" Reki asked-yelled at them, his eyes glistening with glee.
"NO!" Kaoru immediately answered.
"Yeah, we are," Kojiro said, simultaneously.
Langa opened and closed his mouth, obviously confused by the mixed answers. Miya sighed, pretending to be bored, but Kojiro could see his curiosity had been sparked.

"Listen," Kaoru started, glaring daggers at Kojiro’s smiling face, "it was a bet, we were young and that’s it. I have no idea why this moron insists on keeping the certificate in his living room, of all places."
"Ah, so you got it annulled like they do in the movies?" the redhead asked.
Kojiro spoke then, less smile and more embarrassment than before. "Uhm, not exactly. I mean, technically we got married in the US so it’s not like it counts here or whatever. It’s just a nice memory to have. That way, I can remind Kaoru of his defeat whenever he comes over." The chef realized his mistake as soon as he saw the kids’ smiles and Kaoru’s eyes widen. "Not that he’s here often!"
The calligrapher held out his hand, effectively shutting Kojiro up. "Okay, moving on. Reki, Langa. You wanted to see us. Explain."
The teenagers, taken aback by Kaoru’s sudden change of subject, knew better than to push for more information.

It started out as a joke, a bet, like most of the stupid shit they did. Kojiro had just turned 26, he and Kaoru were planning their trip to the United States when the idea sprouted in his head.

"Kaoru," he called the other.
"Mmh?"
"I wanna have a beef with you, I have a bet in mind."
"Tell me the conditions," Kaoru bargained.
"Nah, the rules are: if I win, we do my idea. If you win then you’ll get to decide what you wanna do with me."

Interest sparked in Kaoru’s golden eyes. He was never one to back down from a challenge, especially when skating was involved. Especially when Kojiro was involved.

"Are you done packing for tomorrow?"
"Almost. Shit, Kaoru, I can’t believe we’re going to the US," Joe — as they were both in their S attires, currently skating towards the mine — responded. "Are you ready for tonight?" he added, with a wink.
"I’m going to beat you, as usual. Then I’ll never have to find out what stupid idea your even stupider brain came up with."
Kaoru snickered as Kojiro gave him the finger.

Both panting, their hands on their knees, having crossed the finish line a mere half second apart, Joe grinned at Cherry’s scowling face.
"I can’t believe I lost. To you," Kaoru spat, with his usual bite.
"Get over it, Blossom. Not the first time, won’t be the last," Kojiro answered, a bright smile lighting his face.
"Name the terms of the bet, Joe," Cherry told him, still holding on to his pride.
"Not here Cherry, I’ll tell you later tonight."
The pink-haired man glared at his friend, the connotations behind Joe’s declaration not to his liking.

Sitting at his usual seat in Sia La Luce, the calligrapher quietly sipped his wine while Kojiro was fixing them their meals. The chef was humming, only increasing Kaoru’s restlessness. The latter got up and joined Kojiro in the kitchen.

"So, how long are you planning to make me wait?"
"I was waiting until you got your pasta so you don’t feel too inclined to kill me," Kojiro answered him, smiling.
"Now I’m definitely reassured," Kaoru declared ironically.
"Okay," the green haired man took a deep breath, "I booked us a wedding chapel in Vegas."
"I’m sorry. What."

Quiet rage. That was when Kojiro really feared Kaoru.

"I was thinking about dumb shit to do in the US, I wanted to book something at Vegas and I saw the wedding chapels and I figured it would make you furious, but I didn’t know I would actually win, even if I thought it’d be hilarious," Kojiro explained.
"Let me reiterate. WHAT."

The next day, the two men landed in Los Angeles, headed for their rented house and dropped off their luggage.

"When did you book it?" asked Kaoru.
"Uh?"
"The wedding, dimwit. When is it?"
"Oh! Uh, in 10 days. The day before we go back to Okinawa," Kojiro answered.
Kaoru assented, mouth closed in a thin line.

"I can’t believe he’s making me do this," mumbled Kaoru, buttoning up his shirt.
Their trip was full of visits and food but most importantly, it was coming to an end.
A few seconds after Kaoru’s grumbled words, there was a knock on the door separating their bedrooms. Kojiro walked in after hearing a faint "come in".
The green haired man pushed the door open and stopped in his tracks.
"What?" barked the calligrapher. "Is this suit not to your liking?"
"No, you look uhm.. really good, I just- am not used to seeing you like this. All dressed up and pampered."
Kaoru ignored the first comment and the reaction it ignited in him, he was good at this: ignoring the things Kojiro said that made him feel warm. He chose the easy way out, their default mode.
"At least I don’t look completely ridiculous like you. Geez, Kojiro, your shirt looks like it’s going to explode. Fucking gorilla."
"Yeah, yeah I know. You’re getting a bit repetitive with your insults, Princess."
Kaoru was surprised at the lack of bite his friend’s response held. He tied his bowtie and shrugged his jacket on, declaring himself ready to go.
"Let’s get this over with," he asserted, seemingly annoyed.

Upon arriving at the chapel, Kojiro contemplated the situation he was in: in a foreign country, with his best friend for whom he had had feelings for as long as he knew what bisexuality meant, about to get married in said country with said best friend. Without Kaoru knowing of his feelings — or returning them, for that matter.
Suddenly, as famous IA skater Cherry Blossom was about to enter the chapel, the chef felt overwhelmed with guilt towards his friend — his crush, whatever.
"Kaoru, listen I-" Kojiro stammered, not really knowing what to say, "I just wanted to play a prank on you and see how far you’d go for your pride but you don’t have to do this, we can just go home and enjoy our last day here."
"Are you backing out?" Kaoru replied, dead serious, "because if you are... that means I won," he finished with a quirk of his lips.
Kojiro, simultaneously taken aback and annoyed by this declaration, had no choice but to retort.
"I thought you knew me, four-eyes. I don’t back down first. You don’t stop, I won’t either."

A mere 10 minutes later, a cheap version of Elvis Presley told Kojiro that he could Kiss the bride. To which Kaoru responded immediately by taking Kojiro’s collar and bringing him down to meet his lips.
To be quite frank, it should have been more of a momentous event: he was kissing his best friend of more than ten years for the first time, after getting married to him — as a dare, yes, but still. But it felt nothing if not completely natural, which was not something Kaoru wished to think too much on. When they parted and he finally opened his lids again, Kojiro was looking at him with a smile in his eyes, mischievous as always, while a slight blush adorned his cheekbones.

//

Five years later, both of them still unable to communicate without insulting the other, both of them still completely terrified of the other’s feelings, Kaoru thought back to this moment, to when Kojiro had told him.
He was again sipping his wine at the counter, waiting for Kojiro when he made the decision. It was nothing extraordinary, it just felt natural. Cherry Blossom walked into the save-from-Kojiro empty kitchen, rested his back on the wall, a few meters away from the chef.
Kojiro smiled at him, softly when he noticed Kaoru watching him work.
"I know I look good in the kitchen, Blossom, but it’s not like you to stare at me without insulting me," he joked.
Ultimately, Kaoru couldn’t say if the words came tumbling out of his mouth, or if this was the sentence that he had given most thought in his entire life.
"I’m in love with you," he said, bravely — yet so easily — looking at his friend’s beautiful tanned face and widening ruby eyes. It was this simple. Twenty years of friendship and feelings resumed in one sentence, six simple words that made all the difference. Six words that made Kojiro drop his wooden spoon in the pan, splashing tomato sauce everywhere. Six words that made only one thought loop in Kojiro’s mind.

Oh.

Oh.

"What did you just say?", the chef managed to croak out, emotion clogging his airways.
"You heard me, Nanjo."
"I think I need to hear you again," Kojiro answered, frozen in place.
"I love you, I’ve had feelings for you for ages, I want to spend the rest of my life waking up next to you. Fuck, Kojiro, what more can I say? You can’t be that surprised," stress seeped its way into Kaoru’s throat, uncertainty rising inside him.
"I’m-," Kojiro started. He shook his head. "I’m sorry, I just- Wow."
"If this is your way of rejecting me, at least have the decency to do it clearly," Kaoru shot back, voice wavering.
"Shit, no Kaoru. Fuck, I’m messing this up. I just never thought-."
As he saw the other man’s face shatter, Kojiro instantly moved closer and brushed back some loose strands of pink hair from his face.
"I mean I never thought I’d get to have this, Kaoru. You. Us." He took a deep breath and stared deep into his eyes. "I love you, Sakurayashiki Kaoru. Fuck, I-I love you so much, sometimes I forget how to breathe when I look at you."
He closed the distance between them, wrapping one of his arms around Kaoru’s waist.
"Are you going to let me kiss you first, this time?" Kojiro bid, almost breathlessly.
"No," Kaoru simply replied, dragging Kojiro’s face down to meet kiss him hard, conveying the years of pent up feelings in this one kiss, that turned into two, that turned into more.

Some weeks later, Kaoru was under in Sia La Luce’s dimmed lights, his hip cocked on the counter while Kojiro busied himself in the kitchen. He twirled his slowly-emptying wine glass, a small smile on his lips.
"Whatcha staring at?", the chef asked, playfully.
"Now, can’t I admire my boyfriend?", Kaoru shot back, walking closer and wrapping his free arm around Kojiro’s middle, the second one joining after having put down the glass.
"Your husband, Blossom," the green haired man hummed. "They’re coming to eat here tonight," he added.
Kaoru nodded, forehead resting between shoulder blades as he grumbled his acknowledgment. "What are you cooking your children?"
Kojiro chuckled, stirring his spoon in the sauce, "You know, it’s your fault they call me Mom."
"Mmh.. The way I see it, you cook, you’re warm and cuddly, you give good advice and are patient with them. And also," his hands snuck up to the muscled chest, "you have tiddies."
Kojiro burst out laughing, "I was almost surprised at how abnormally sweet you were being". He turned around, kissed Kaoru on the tip of his nose, who was still quietly snickering.

A few minutes later, three teenagers and a young florist would witness the two men embracing through the kitchen door’s window, quietly bumping their fists and promising to settle bets.

FIN