for: arielle (ladyhurt)
notes/description/disclaimer: I always felt like there was a scene we should have been witness to, but were robbed of. Maybe they filmed it and then didn't have time to cut it into the last episode, or maybe they just didn't bother. Either way, here's my take on it. The timeline is somewhere between 512 and 513.
It's so fucking cold; you can't believe how fucking cold it is, and you wonder for the millionth time in your life why you haven't just picked up and moved the hell to Boca, or somewhere else warm. You glance over at him, at the way his eyes trace the road as he drives his ridiculous, tiny car, and smile when you wonder if he'd follow you to Boca. If you moved today, said fuck everything, and packed up and just went, would he go, too? Yeah, you decide, he probably would, and then he'd fuck every beautiful brown boy who crossed his path, bitch that there were no good gay bars within walking distance, and spend three hours a day on his laptop, working. The thought makes you laugh, you're not sure why, but he turns to look at you when you do, and suddenly, you feel a little warmer.
"What's funny, Sunshine?" He's smirking as he asks, waiting to be let in on the joke, but when his eyes dance across your face and bounce back to the road, you don't know what was funny, you only know how happy you are. He's yours, finally, and you're his, and you're so entirely thankful.
"Where the hell are we going, Brian? Another country manor?"
He grunts a laugh. He loves being mysterious now, relishes the fun of keeping secrets and surprising you with them later, like a drug he wants to keep taking and taking until you're both drunk with it. You always knew he was this romantic, he just had to stop being so afraid, first.
"No, but it'll probably end up costing me just as much."
Your eyebrows shoot up at that, but you know you won't get anymore from him until he's good and ready, so you settle back and watch the city streets, sloppy with blackened slush, slip by.
You let your hand settle on his thigh. There's one good thing about this car- he's never more than foot away from you when you want to touch him. Once, you would have felt his muscles tense at such a domestic gesture, and to compensate for how hetero it felt to him, he'd have grabbed your hand and pressed it against his cock. These days, he just relaxes into your touch and now and then, he drops his own hand and brushes his thumb across the backs of your fingers. This gentler side of him is intoxicating, if not a little bewildering, but it's something you've always dreamed of, so you don't question it too deeply.
Five more minutes worth of turns, with Brian muttering under his breath about the lack of downtown parking, and you're out of the car and onto the street.
You both know, when outside the scope of Liberty Ave., that holding hands here is only likely to cause one or both of you grief, so you comfort yourself with the thought that it's too fucking cold to take your hands out of your pockets, anyway.
His stride is long, and the colder the weather, the faster he moves, so it's no surprise to you that you're jogging to keep up with him. You could tell him to slow down and he would, but it's keeping your muscles from sinking into a deep freeze. You've always hated downtown in the depths of January, when the wind picks up force as it whips around the city skyscrapers and finds its way into any chinks in your woolen, layered, fuzzy-warm armor.
You're about to begin complaining for real, when Brian stops abruptly. You were following so closely behind him, with your head ducked against the freezing blast, that you collide with him. You step around him to see why the hell he's no longer moving, but he puts one elegant, gloved hand on your shoulder and steers you into the storefront on your right.
You don't know why you didn't think of this, yourself. All those hours planning and making lists and seating arrangements, days spent huddled with Emmett going over flowers and food choices and music, the scurry to get out wedding announcements that didn't look like they'd been hastily assembled, which they had been. All that, and you'd forgotten the most important aspect of a wedding- the rings.
You laugh out loud into the stately hush, and next to you, unwinding his scarf from around his neck, Brian watches you, his eyes luminous, a grin quirking the corners of his mouth.
Before you can process the fact that Brian, of all people, remembered the need for rings- possibly even wants them- an older, distinguished man is approaching you from around a gleaming glass case that lines the back wall of the small, expensively decorated boutique. His hand is out and when he addresses Brian by name, you know that Brian has shopped here before.
"Mr. Kinney, lovely to see you again." He shakes Brian's hand and then turns to you with a practiced, expectant smile.
"Thanks, Vince," Brian's voice is warm, but professional. "My partner, Justin Taylor."
You nearly wrench your neck turning to look at Brian, your surprise so great at hearing the treasured word slip smoothly from Brian's lips, but then Vince is shaking your hand in his dry, firm grip and you remember your manners and smile back at him.
"Are we all set up?" Brian asks.
You realize that he must have called ahead, and you wonder what other surprises he has in store for you. You feel a flush of love course through your veins, staggering you on your feet, and for a moment, you long to be alone with Brian so you can kiss him. You settle for reaching for his fingers and squeezing them once before releasing them again. Brian smiles down at you and smoothes his hand across your back.
"Of course, Sir," Vince purrs smoothly. "If you'd like to remove your coats and entrust them to my daughter Sara, here, I'll be happy to show you what we've chosen." Sara approaches with a smile exactly like her father's and a mischievous glint in her eyes, and waits patiently while you and Brian peel away layers of protective outerwear. She disappears into a small cloak room tucked to the side of one of the cases as Vince leads you towards the back of the shop.
"Using your descriptions, Mr. Kinney, we've selected some beautiful wedding bands in several different metals and styles, but naturally," he holds a curtain aside and motions you both through, following closely behind, "if none of them please you, you've got the entire store to peruse at your leisure."
The private area of the shop is just as poshly adorned as the front, with subdued lighting, soft classical jazz playing in the background, and 2 heavy, over-stuffed wingchairs pulled up close to a small, scrolled, antique table. The table has been retrofitted with a large pad of black velvet on which to display jewels, and more than a dozen small leather boxes are scattered across it.
Vince offers each of you a seat, which you slip into, feeling as if you've been transported into a 1940's Cary Grant movie.
"Can I offer you each a refreshment?" Vince asks, taking a seat on the other side of the table and pushing a small, almost hidden button. Sara appears from the front of the store, smiling expectantly. "Wine? Pellegrino?"
Brian looks at you, an affectionate smirk you're well familiar with playing over his lips, his eyebrows raised. Your manners kick in again and you nod at Sara.
"Water is fine, thank you."
Brian agrees, and Sara vanishes once more.
You turn your attention to the table and the rather intimidating row of boxes before you, all of which, you're sure, contain the most expensive rings of only the highest quality. Your palms begin to sweat, so you press them into your thighs, trying to hide the sudden tremble that is threatening your self-control. You want to leap at Brian, pull him into a sappily romantic embrace that will express how excited you really are, and you're pretty sure that he would just grin and tolerate it with a minimum of snarky come-backs, but if he can play it cool, so can you.
"Shall we get started?" Vince modulates his voice for the more intimate setting. Brian nods as Vince pulls on a soft, white felt glove and reaches for the box on the far right.
"Our first choice," Vince opens the box in his palm and gingerly tugs the rings out of their snug slots, placing them side by side on the black velvet, "is very popular for gentlemens' commitment ceremonies. It is a platinum band with an 18 CT. gold and white gold braided inlay rope, which winds around the band in an understated but stunning pattern."
Your breath hitches in your chest as the rings catch the light and gleam with a high polish.
"As you can see," Vince continues smoothly, "the bands' outer edges are not rounded, as traditional bands tend to be, but are, instead, squared off for a more masculine look. This style is called 'Infinity'."
You feel Brian's long fingers encircle your wrist, drawing your attention away to his face. His eyes on you are warm, liquid, and you're not sure you've ever seen him looking so gorgeous and so open. He quirks an eyebrow at you in amusement, silently mouthing the word, 'infinity' as if it's a question he's asking you. He feigns fear, his expression so subtle that you're probably the only one who would catch it, and a chuckle bubbles from you that makes him smile. As you graze his fingers, feeling them tighten gently on your arm, you imagine what the ring would look like on his large, graceful hand. A lump forms in your throat. You swallow it with difficulty, knowing that you can't break down like a teenaged girl and squall right here in front of Vince.
Sara returns, then, a silver tray balanced with two small bottles of Pellegrino and two tall glasses filled with ice. As she lays out your refreshment next to you, she catches your eye, and the mischief is still there. She winks at you impulsively, sharing your exhilaration, and you suddenly wonder how you'll ever stop floating long enough to stand next to Brian in front of a minister with your feet firmly planted on the ground.
"He loves it, Vince," Brian murmurs, and then clears his throat. "I do, too. But let's see what else you've chosen."
You adore that Brian wants you to see all of them, that he wants to as well, and you understand without being told that he's trying to provide you with the entire experience, the whole package, so that you'll never look back on your wedding and mourn what you might have missed.
Vince lays out another set of beautiful rings, a set he calls, 'Heart of Platinum', and Brian comments on the elegant simplicity of the bands, his fingers brushing the glimmering metal appreciatively.
Over the course of the next forty minutes, Vince shows you a dizzying parade of rings in gold, white gold, titanium, and platinum. Your head is swimming with choices and you're not sure you'll ever be able to settle your nerves enough to finally decide, but again and again, your eye is drawn to one set of rings in particular, the first set Vince showed you, 'Infinity'.
You're not sure if your attraction to them is aesthetic- they are stunningly beautiful- or if it's emotional. They were, after all, the very first wedding bands you'd ever laid eyes on with Brian at your side and the perfect understanding that they would become the outward symbol of a lifelong commitment you'd each made to one another.
Brian has been watching you, you know it, and when Vince pulls another set of rings out of another leather case, Brian stops him abruptly. He turns in his chair, taking your hand and looking closely at your face.
"Justin," his voice is soft and intense, and in any other setting, would give you an instant hard on. "You've already chosen, haven't you?" He indicates with a nod the pair of bands you can't seem to stop staring at, and you fall in love with him all over again for understanding you so well.
"Do you really like them, too?" you ask softly.
You're not sure how, but Brian has managed to make the rest of the world disappear from your awareness. You think it must have something to do with his eyes and the way he's looking at you.
"I do," he says, and then grins quietly, neither of you missing the innuendo. Your answering smile tells him everything he needs to know.
Without turning his gaze from yours, he tells Vince that the 'Infinity' set are the rings you want. You hear Vince humming about the excellent choice you've made, but it's all become a blur, and the only thing you want now is to feel Brian's hands on you in a not-at-all-appropriate-in-public way. Brian nods at you, silently confirming that he's anxious to get you alone.
Vince sets the wheels in motion, measuring both your finger and Brian's, filling out paperwork, and assuring you both that while the rings are, indeed, custom-made by hand, he will put a rush on the order to ensure that they will be ready in time for your wedding.
Brian's hands tremble as he presents his credit card for payment, but you know it's not the price that agitates him. His eyes haven't left yours, and the heat that's climbing in him threatens to turn the freezing January day outside into an inferno worthy of the depths of August. Vince seems to understand the signals your bodies are throwing off to one another, perhaps he's seen it countless times with his hetero clients, too, and he hurries to finish the transaction, holding your coats for you and walking you to the front door.
He pats Brian fastidiously on the shoulder before the door closes, leaving the two of you out on the street once more, another step closer to being husband and husband. As your breath mingles in a cloud of fog with Brian's, his arms clamp around you protectively, pulling you towards him. His hands, already chilling in the air, swipe your cheeks, and he dives for your mouth.
The kiss is long and shameless, right in front of God and everyone, and from inside, unseen by either you or Brian, Vince and Sara watch you with wide, happy smiles.
For those of you who are into that kind of thing, here are photos of the
rings I referenced in this story:
Heart of Platinum
The Ceremony of the Rings (Traditional)
"These rings are a symbol of the unbroken circle of love. Love freely given has no beginning and no end, no giver and no receiver for each is the giver and each is the receiver. May these rings always remind you of the vows you have taken."