okay but hear me out: doyoung wrangles taeyong into going to a wedding showcase with him so they can get free samples from all the vendors. they eat their fill of the s’mores bar as they listen to the caterer’s sales pitch. they snack on mini cupcakes during the fashion show. https://twitter.com/bituinan/status/1316580323866537986
they enter all the giveaways and raffles and sip on free cappuccinos and wine samples.
they don’t need it in the slightest, but doyoung snags the free bridal magazines, puts on a show of checking things off the wedding timeline provided.
“honey, how about this photographer?” he asks taeyong.


“I know we asked johnny, but do you think we might need a second one for the first look?”
eventually taeyong gets caught up in it too, taken in by the unlimited times he’s able to frequent the gelato bar. he’s not /really/ getting married, so he gives himself leave to be shameless bc it’s not like he’s going to see any of these vendors anytime soon.
to be quite honest, taeyong didn’t expect to see the range of businesses available. the two of them test out memory foam mattresses, choke down wheatgrass shots for the novelty, and nervously side eye the lady advertising lip injections.
they have a close call when they run into donghyuck, one of the students taeyong used to TA back in undergrad who also knows doyoung from chamber choir.

“hyung!” he calls. the lavender champagne macaron doyoung is holding freezes halfway to taeyong’s mouth. “how’ve you been?”
doyoung pastes on a smile and turns towards this unexpected complication. “donghyuck,” he greets through his teeth. “didn’t expect to see you here.”
“picked up a side gig,” donghyuck shrugs. he hands them a flyer that exclaims HAECHAN LEE: MC EXTRAORDAIRE in shiny garamond font. “master of ceremonies isn’t anything too big, but it pays well.”
“I’m glad you’re doing well,” taeyong says. he mourns the macaron slowly crumbling in doyoung’s hands.

“yeah.” donghyuck nods towards the buttons attached to doyoung and taeyong’s shirts. “so, 2022, huh?”

“we opted for a longer engagement,” doyoung says.
donghyuck barks out a laugh. “you’re telling me,” he scoffs. “honestly, all of us thought you’d get married straight out of uni.”

the macaron is in smithereens now. taeyong’s lungs feel similarly steamrolled. “all of us?” he squeaked.
“you know,” donghyuck gestures, referencing the rat pack he kept around him. “we had bets and everything.”

taeyong feels a little woozy. too much wine, he thinks.
doyoung nods, seemingly unfazed, but taeyong can see the lines of tension holding up his spine. “we wanted to finish our masters.”

“makes sense. get a steady income before settling down with the puppy and the white picket fence.” donghyuck nods. “sounds boring, couldn’t be me.”
thankfully, a prospective bride and her entourage loudly approach from stage left.

“it was good seeing you!” taeyong says as doyoung begins to discreetly herd them away.

“I’ll hit you up on insta,” donghyuck calls back, slightly distracted with corralling inquisitive bridemaids
“I really hope he doesn’t,” doyoung mutters uncharitably under his breath. taeyong tsks him gently. “what? he almost blew out cover.”

“what cover?” taeyong wants to ask. they’re one of hundreds of couples filling out this fully booked out banquet hall.
he would laugh off doyoung’s concerns if he wasn’t caught by how their fingers fit together.
doyoung still hasn’t noticed that he’d grabbed taeyong’s hand, determined as he is with aimlessly leading them away from donghyuck’s voice. they breeze past the gelato cart for the seventh time that day and the boy who runs it—sungchan, taeyong remembers—lifts a hand in greeting.
all this filters through taeyong’s periphery. his vision tunnels to their clasped hands and the image of his and doyoung’s matching cartier rings pressed flush against each other.
it had been an offhand joke, that they might as well get couple rings to show how strong their friendship was.
when doyoung had casually slipped the velvet-lined box into his hands months later during an impromptu brunch & subsequent indoor picnic, taeyong had laughed until doyoung cajoled him into putting the ring on.

it suddenly occurred to taeyong that he’s never taken it off since.
“doie,” taeyong whispers. he pulls to a stop in the middle of the interactive showroom. the gallery is slowly filtering out as people flock to the next room to catch the last fashion show of the day.
“hmm?” doyoung blinks out of his single-minded daze. “oh, we passed by that cake shop you liked. did you want another sample?”

he’s still holding taeyong’s hand.
it’s not like they’ve never held hands before. they’re regularly affectionate (taeyong remembers cuddling on movie nights, knocking knees at the library, doyoung absentmindedly kissing his knuckles as he eats ice cream), but it’s different now.
taeyong looks at doyoung under the silver garlands of the overhead lighting decor. the electric candles shine down the slope of his nose and against familiar cheeks. someone knocks a glass off of a tabletop display, but the crash might as well be non-existent. taeyong stares.
has he always been this handsome?
doyoung tilts his head. “taeyongie?”

“are we married?” taeyong blurts out.

doyoung looks around and laughs. “no, we’re engaged, remember?” he smiles indulgently like he’s in on the joke. “keep up.”
“no I—“ taeyong halts. looks down at their joined hands. he reaches out with his thumb and slowly twists the ring on doyoung’s finger. he looks back up at doyoung’s eyes and whispers, “are we married?”
doyoung freezes, all previous mirth draining from his body. the fashion show is starting in the other room and Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” seeps through the garland curtains sectioning off the space.
there’s a few straggler milling about the interactive showroom, taking advantage of the lessened crowd to note decor ideas and snag business cards.
the white noise of it all encloses on taeyong. in his mind’s eye, these empty banquet tables fill with their friends and family. the shiny plates and clean tablecloths are made messy with food & laughter. the cups fill with champagne and all the utensils clink calling for a kiss.
everything shines golden and sweet, as precious as the matching rings they have on their fingers. taeyong grasps doyoung’s hand tighter and feels the ridges of doyoung’s fingers against his.

this is a hand I’d like to hold for the rest of my life, taeyong thinks.
“doie?” taeyong ventures again, voice small. doyoung is as still as photo staring out of a glass case. one wrong move, taeyong thinks, and this all could break. his fingers begin to tremble.
doyoung takes a deep breath and reaches up to cradle taeyong’s shaking hand in both of his. he gently traces soothing lines on taeyong’s palm.

“do you want to be married?” doyoung asks, voice as soft as the baby’s breath filling the negative spaces between the rose centrepieces.
taeyong chokes out a wet laugh. “you can’t answer my question with you own.” his voice breaks. “that’s not fair.”

“isn’t it?” doyoung asks. his mouth twists a rueful turn. “you’re not the one who’s been waiting in the cold.”
even now, doyoung is gentle. even now, cautious and hopeful as he is, doyoung is careful with taeyong.

“how long?” taeyong asks. he’s not sure he wants to know.

doyoung, as always, understands. “does it matter?” he counters.
it does. it should. doyoung doesn’t deserve to be hurt, especially by him.
“why—,” taeyong starts. why stick around? why suffer? why him?

“because I wanted to. because you’re my best friend.” doyoung lips curls soft at the edges. “because I want you in my life, in any way you’ll keep me.”
once, when they had been younger and sillier and a little more drunk than they should have been, taeyong had dragged doyoung away from their friends’ celebrations and towards the river.
(which celebration? taeyong can’t remember. there is always something to celebrate when you’re young and hopeful and a little lost in the world.)
the world by the water is quieter, and taeyong had linked their arms together and doddered along the riverside like penguins huddling against the cold. they had giggled and whispered into each other’s shoulders, unwilling to break the sleepy evening spirit.
an elderly couple had passed them by on the path. the wizen old wife had supported her wizen old husband as he placed foot, then cane leg, then foot, on the walkway. taeyong had watched them go by, eyes caught on their frames like an errant reflection on rippling water.
“let’s grow old together,” he had said.

doyoung had turned a startled grin in taeyong’s direction and stumbled over a crack in the sidewalk.

“bold of you to assume I’ll put up with you for that long,” doyoung had scoffed.

“won’t you?”

he had gotten a raised eyebrow in reply.
taeyong had continued, set on this spontaneous life plan. “doyoung-ah,” he had proposed. “let’s grow old and silly and wrinkly together and go to a retirement home together.”
doyoung had played along. “I’ll shave your head.”

“I’ll put vegetable mash under your mattress.”

“I’ll hide your adult diapers.”

“excuse me!” taeyong had squawked.

doyoung had pulled away and ran down the riverside, with taeyong following close behind and cursing up a storm.
they hadn’t seen the elderly couple smile after them.
looking at doyoung, steady and solid in front of him, taeyong remembers: I’d like to grow old with this man.
“okay,” taeyong whispers. “okay,” he repeats, a little louder, a little more sure. his hand reaches towards doyoung’s chest like a compass needle leading him home.

doyoung shakes beneath his palm. taeyong thinks of invisible emotions. he thinks of waiting & still being kind.
he won’t ever let doyoung be cold again.

“yes,” taeyong says. “yes, I want to be married.”

doyoung smiles wide like the breaking of the sun.
taeyong smiles back. he wants to kiss doyoung, to draw him close & tuck him into his heart, but not here. it’s all still so new, like the fresh pop of champagne frothing exuberant from the bottle. maybe later, when the foam settles & his newfound heart stops beating double time.
taeyong’s gaze fall to their still-clasped hands against doyoung’s chest. he eyes their matching rings glinting gold in the gallery light.
“that won’t do,” he mutters. taeyong raises his free hand and gently tugs doyoung’s ring from his finger. he looks up at doyoung’s confused eyes. “it’s on the wrong finger.”

doyoung gasps out a wet sound. he breathes deep, whispers, “so what are you gonna do about it?”
a golden ring slips onto the proper finger. a promise made in friendship renews itself. taeyong presses his lips to doyoung’s knuckles, a meagre recompense for all the times doyoung has done the same. it’s okay, he has time to repay the favour tenfold.
a cheer from a loud audience and the mic reverberation of the MC’s final words signal the end of the fashion show next door.

“come on,” taeyong says. “let’s get out of here before it gets packed.”
they almost bump into one of the wedding show decor attendants in their hurry to avoid the crowd. shotaro, the nametag reads. his eyes curve up into a grin.

“congratulations,” he chirps as he hands them complimentary wine glasses. “I hope you two are happy together.”
taeyong laughs out a thanks, slightly mortified that their confessions were perceived but much too happy to care. doyoung’s chest is a solid presence against his back & his hand is warm in his own. they tuck the glasses into their complimentary reusable totes & exit the gallery.
“let’s get you another gelato sample,” doyoung suggests.

“and the macarons,” taeyong adds. “you crushed mine earlier talking to donghyuck.”

doyoung groans. “how insufferable do you think he’s going to be if he finds out we got engaged because of him?”
taeyong laughs, loud & bright. he looks around the banquet holding this ostentatious wedding show, at the bustle of couples & wedding parties ranging from excited to highly distressed. they weave a path through the temporary halls built from velvet drapery & promising perfection.
for the rest of the afternoon, taeyong allows himself to buy into the romance of it all. they pass by vendors peddling fairytale endings and he sees people doing their best to nudge couples towards a happy home and heart. maybe there is something to this wedding industry machine.
“you still have those business cards?” taeyong asks.

doyoung hums an affirmative. he had tucked and organized them all carefully within the pages of a free wedding magazine. “the coupons and raffle ballots, too. why?”

taeyong smiles. “guess we’re going to need them after all.”
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