Archivist's note: This fic was written as the "morning after" the scene depicted in the 2004 Hyotei Christmas bromide card.

This Is My Beloved and This Is My Friend
by Solaas

Choutarou drifted slowly out of sleep and into a day he'd been waiting for since, well, since junior high -- he just hadn't realised it back then. The bed was warm and compliant beneath him, the covers were snug and warm around him, and his lover's slow, steady breath rose and fell next to him like a gentle, faraway surf. If he opened his eyes, he thought he would find soft light filtering through the curtains to brighten the room, but he couldn't be bothered to open them just yet. For now, it was more than enough to float in unlit contentment, letting his other senses come to life as the last tendrils of sleep retreated.

The briefest frown of puzzlement passed over his brow when he noticed one of his fingers feeling kind of odd, only to be replaced by a slow smile determined to stretch all the way across his face to say hello to his ears. He wore a ring now. Choutarou was wearing Shishido's, no, Ryou's ring! Heavy gold and platinum wrapped around his finger, open evidence of the commitment they'd made, with their best friends as witnesses.

Happiness bloomed inside his chest, so huge that it stopped his breath for a few moments. There just wasn't room enough inside him for a big emotion like that, so it invaded his sinuses, leaked out through shuttered eyes and then, with a gasp, his breath escaped and took with it some of the excess joy, pouring it into the morning air. A wordless prayer of gratitude; pure, raw emotion tearing out of him, raising its arms and spreading its wings, uplifting its voice to a Heaven he knew would understand and approve, even if his Church did not.

"There is nothing love cannot face; There is no limit to its faith, hope, and endurance. (...) In a word, there are three things that last forever: Faith, hope, and love; But the greatest of them all is love."

The message in St. Paul's letter to the Corinth was pretty clear on how love trumps all, and really, how could anyone who had ever felt this way ever consider it a virtue in one circumstance and a sin in another? Love was love, and it was the single greatest blessing in his life that his didn't go unanswered.

Ohtori Choutarou was engaged, at long last, to his Shishido-san; his Shishido-san who had begged him to start calling him by his given name now. Ryou. Seven years of loving habit was going to be hard to break, but if that was what Shishi...Ryou-san wanted him to do, then do it he would. After his heart stopped choking him with joy.

A hand, rough and calloused, ghosted over his face, and he caught his breath.

"What's with the tears, Choutarou? You regretting this already?" Shishido's voice was rough with sleep and tight with something that resembled resignation or disappointment or...or...

Choutarou opened his eyes with a start, turned his head and shook it adamantly. Words struggled and pushed to make it past the big lump of happy in his chest, stumbling as they made it past his lips. "Nonono, Shishi...Ryou-san, I... It's..." He took a breath and tried again.

"I'm happy." Ecstatic. Joyous. Bursting with love.

Why was language such a limited mode of communication? He grabbed Shishido's, no, Ryou's hand and squeezed it hard. Words just weren't happening, so he'd have to show him instead. As a gigantic beam took over his face, conquered the world and sent the sun off to a well deserved vacation, inspiration struck.

"I'm so in love, Shishido-san!" He could practice the Ryou thing later.

Shishido blinked and some of the bleariness faded from his eyes to be replaced by a wry grin. "Oh, is that so?" he murmured and untangled his hand to wipe away the rest of the tears from Choutarou's cheeks.

Fifty thousand watts of glorious, gorgeous Choutarou joy tried to nod and push into his caress at the same time, while also sneaking a glance at Shishido's ring finger, where a band of platinum and gold mirrored its mate. "Yes."

Shishido's grin widened, spurred on by a wave of happy that rushed up from his toes, thundered through his stomach and chest and left his head spinning.

"Damn, Choutarou..."


The kiss started as a tentative, almost shy encounter; fingers stroking warm skin, lips brushing each other tenderly, nose tips meeting and rubbing together gently. It went on with rising heat, brushes turned to nibbles turned to a wanton devouring where dominance and surrender was in flow between them, resounding along the rush of blood and heat to become a searing, carnal thing -- until Shishido pulled away with a groan.

"Man! Damn, sweet gods of mercy, Choutarou -- I..." He grimaced and slumped back, putting his hand over his eyes.

"Shishido-san!" Choutarou pushed himself up on his elbow, feeling bewilderment and concern stab up through layers of lust and joy. "What's wrong?"

"Fuck," breathed his fiancee and lay very still.

All lust evaporated on the spot and Choutaro leaned over to stroke Shishido's cheek. "Shishido-san! What's wrong? A-are you sick?" Anxiety rode his voice as he watched his lover pale and squirm to get away from him.

With a strangled "Yeah," Shishido fell out of bed and ran blindly for the bathroom, hand now pressed to his mouth.

He made it just in time.

Choutarou sat up, blinking as the sounds of miserable retching filtered back to the bedroom. Oh. Right. Yes, Shishido had partied pretty hard the night before, hadn't he? Tried to drink Kabaji under the table, hadn't he? Rather unsuccessfully, too. Oh dear.

Laughter bubbled up inside him, and his attempts to keep it quiet and under control failed pathetically. So much for the perfect romance; life had this habit of throwing spanners into the best of works, and this morning was turning out to be no exception. Choutarou collapsed back on the bed, laughing out loud, while Shishido contemplated the mysteries of the porcelain god a couple of doors down the hall.

After a while, Choutarou managed to get a hold of himself and got out of bed. He padded into the kitchen, nearly tripping over a sleeping Jirou (What on earth was he doing there still? Had Atobe forgotten to take him home when he left? Had Atobe left at all? Well, that mystery would just have to wait until later.) in the process, and fished a bottle of water out of the fridge. Thus armed, he headed for the bathroom (carefully stepping over Jirou), where the occasional cough and groan could still be heard.

He took an elastic from the shelf, knelt down next to Shishido, tied his hair back -- somehow it was still clean -- and ran a hand down his boyfriend's back. "How's it going?" It was impossible to keep the soft laughter from his voice.

Shishido shot him a dirty, very hung-over look and muttered a few choice obscenities.

"Here, drink some water. You'll feel better in a little while, Shi ... Heh, Ryou-san."

Grumbling, Shishido took the proffered bottle and drank a few mouthfuls. "Dunno what the hell you think is so damn funny, Choutarou..."

"I love you, Ryou-san."

Shishido paused and eyed his grinning fiancee for many moments. Eventually a giggle snorted its way out.

"Ah yeah. I guess that is pretty funny, considering... Heh."

Still laughing, Choutarou reached up and pushed the flush-button on the toilet. "Yes, it is."

They smiled at each other then; one fondly, the other sheepishly. It was their first morning together as an officially committed couple, and it really was perfect.

"Now go get me the damn aspirins!"

"Yes, Ryou-san."

"And will you cut out the damn san already?!"

"Of course, Ryou-san."

The End

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