Zeke is in the back of a dusty antique shop when it sees them; lit by a sunbeam through the dirty panes of a window, as if they were placed there for him to find by some divine providence. The rings are lying on an elegant velvet pillow, torn in one or two spots but still beautiful. However, the rings outshine the pillow many times over. Breathless, Zeke steps up a pair of steps that creak under his feet to take a closer look. The precious stones and metal gleam as he approaches, a warm inviting light.
He and Shao had been talking about getting married for months, but just hadn’t gotten around to looking at rings. Now, this feels like a sign.
The first ring is a thin gold band, a small starburst of gems at its center, a larger sapphire as its crowning glory, surrounded by small white chips of diamond. Zeke aches to try it on, wanting it to fit his finger perfectly. Instead he looks at the other ring. This one is silver, a hexagonal ruby embedded in the center, surrounded by snakelike curving patterns engraved in the silver. It suits Shao, in a way that makes Zeke’s heart skip a beat. He feels himself smiling widely as he reaches into his pocket to pull out his cell phone.
He dials Shao’s number and waits, foot tapping to get some of his excited energy out as he listens to it ring. After a good number of rings, Shao finally picks up, his voice sleepy as he says:
“Hey, B. What’s up?”
Zeke smiles at the thought of Shao in their bed, just having woken up from sleeping in late as he had said he would. He’s not a morning person like Zeke is. Still, this surprise will be worth waking him, Zeke is sure.
“Hey Shao. Come down to the antique store, I’ve got a surprise for you.”
Zeke doesn’t dare to leave the rings alone as he waits for Shao to arrive, half convinced they’ll disappear if he steps away. He doesn’t have long to wait until Shao shows up, ducking under a low doorway to join Zeke in the top floor. He picks his way through the furniture, some piled high with stuff, some covered in protective sheets. He calls out:
“So, what’s worth me running over here without having breakfast first?”
Zeke stands aside, letting the rings come into view. Shao’s eyes go wide and he rushes forwards, staring down at them with just an:
Zeke can’t help but smile.
“I didn’t try them on, I waited for you.”
Shao marvels at them, before looking up at Zeke and gushing:
Zeke nods and asks excitedly:
“So, time to see if they fit?”
Shao reaches out and takes the red one, carefully slotting it onto his ring finger. Zeke watches expectantly as he shakes his hand out. Then Shao turns to Zeke, a grin growing on his face.
Zeke takes his hand, saying:
“Let me look at it on you.”
He twists Shao’s hand side to side, making the ruby sparkle in the sunlight spilling into the room. Then he leans in, pressing a kiss to the knuckle above the ring. Shao laughs and says:
Zeke grins up at him and says:
“You love me for it.”
“That I do. Now shoo, try on your ring!”
Zeke returns to the pillow and picks up the sapphire ring, sliding it on, holding his breath as he does. To his relief, it fits perfectly. He turns back to Shao and nods. Shao suddenly yells:
“You are a genius!”
And rushes forward, pulling Zeke into his arms, leaning in for a kiss. Zeke grins and kisses him, the weight of the ring on his finger already feeling natural. As they pull apart, Zeke says:
“I guess that means it’s time?”
Shao throws him a confused look, but when Zeke gets down on a knee, his eyes widen. Zeke looks up at his love and knows that this is exactly what he wants to do. So he says with complete assurance:
“Shao, will you marry me?”
Shao’s eyes are filling with tears, making them gleam in the brightly lit room. He wipes at his face and sniffles, for a moment before saying:
“Of course I will, Zeke.”
Zeke rises and pulls him into a hug, pulling a tissue out of the small pack he keeps in his pocket and hands it over. Shao wipes away the tears and lets his head rest on Zeke’s shoulder. Zeke asks quietly:
“You okay, Shao?”
Shao sighs and hesitates a moment before whispering:
“I just never thought I’d get here, you know?”
Zeke smiles softly, remembering the hard times, glad that they had pushed through them to find a better life.
“Yeah. But you made it, Shao.”
Shao grins and says:
“Sure did, Books.”
They stand, silent for a contemplative moment, before Shao says:
“Guess we gotta plan a wedding now, huh?”
Zeke laughs and shrugs.
“It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Just invite some friends, I’m sure Dizzee and Thor would love to bake the cake, say our vows, and dance the night away.”
Shao sighs, still tucked into Zeke’s side.