Galo took in a deep breath, eyes closed and jaw tensing as he prepared to say the words he’d been wanting to say for years.
“L-Lio Fotia!” he stammered, eyes shot open as he lowered himself onto one knee (maybe a little too quickly, ouch), “Will you marry me?!…”
He stared at his reflection in the full body mirror in front of him and paused, looking himself in the eye before sighing in defeat. “Tch, no good… It’s too loud. Definitely too loud.” He stood and rubbed the back of his head. Nobody ever warned him how hard proposing was. He didn't want to embarrass Lio with a cringeworthy proposal! And he honestly felt silly proposing to his own reflection for practice, but how else was he supposed to propose?!
His nerves definitely weren’t helping. He wanted to make this special, dammit, and he wasn’t the most creative person out there! Or, maybe he didn’t need to be creative, but it definitely had to be special! Lio deserved special, after all.
This called for some outside intervention.
“You’re really gonna do it?!” Aina squealed.
“Shhh!!” Galo shushed, brushing brightly while sitting atop her bed. “Not so loud, the walls have ears!”
“Oop, sorry!” She covered her mouth in agreement, yet it did little to hide her growing smile. “I’m just so excited for you!!” Her excitement subsided. “But wait, you’re
Lio would be ready for something like that?”
Galo nodded, confident for once that evening. “We… kinda talked about it, yeah, some time ago. We’ve been together for what, almost four years now? He’s happy with me and I’m happy with him. So I think it’s time we tie the knot. I wanna think he's just waiting for me to make a move."
Aina nodded in attentive understanding, always a good listener.
“... Unless you think he isn’t ready?!” Galo suddenly said, making her jump a little. “Did he say anything to you?!”
“Uhh, he never told me he wasn’t ready!” she said, almost a little too quickly. “Uh— So how do you plan to do this anyway?”
“I was thinking… over dinner…”
“Yeah, someplace with really good pizza—“
“Pizza?!” It was Galo’s turn to jump from the sudden shift in volume. “Galo Thymos, you can’t just propose over pizza!!”
“But it’s our thing, Aina!!”
“It’s the whole Burning Rescue’s thing!!”
“Yeah, but it’s SUPER special with him! I remember the first time we had pizza together…” He closed his eyes and sighed almost dreamily, drifting back to the fond memory. “It was a stuffed crust cheese pizza…”
“Galo, you’ve told me this story already.”
“He was SUPER hungry and practically inhaling the whole thing…”
“Galo, I was THERE.”
“Then he choked on his third pizza and we had to give him the Heimlich…”
Aina sighed. “So you’re really gonna propose to him over pizza…?”
pizza. I know a great place!” Galo grinned. “I’ll get a nice shirt and everything, and— oh, oh, do you wanna see the ring I got?”
Aina immediately perked up again, eyes sparkling. “Of course I do!!” Upon seeing the aforementioned ring in its tiny velvet box, she gasped, bringing her hands to her mouth again. The ring itself was adorned with a precious diamond, and small enough to fit Lio’s dainty finger. “Oh he’s going to love this.”
“Right?!” Galo straightened up, laughing. “It’s gonna be great…”
“You really are prepared! What did his family say?”
“G… Galo, you
ask for their blessing, right?”
Galo’s eyes widened upon the realization. Of all the things to forget… “Dammit, I didn’t!! I forgot!!”
“You can’t just forget about them!! How could you forget?! They’re gonna be
“I know, I know! I'm sorry, this whole proposal planning just has my brain real scattered!! But… gah…” He rubbed the back of his neck. “What if they say no? What am I gonna do then?”
“Why would they say no to you? You take really good care of Lio!”
“More like he takes really good care of me…” he muttered, remembering a few too many instances of being pulled out of trouble by his boyfriend. He couldn’t count on one hand how many times Lio had to catch him before he did something reckless. There were just too many times to count. Like the time he would’ve fallen down a flight of stairs while skating on mops to clean the floor… “Besides, they used to hate me like, a LOT.”
to,” Aina said pointedly. “You know… if they knew you were gonna propose, I bet they can help you set up the proposal too!~”
“... Yeah, you’re right. Thanks for listening, Aina. You’re a really great friend.”
“No prob, Galo!” She winked. “Just be sure to listen to me too when I think about proposing to
“So…” Gueira spun around in his chair, tapping his fingers together in the darkened room. “Am I hearing right? You wanna marry Boss, huh?”
“Yeah, that’s what I said,” Galo said blankly. “Or, well, I gotta propose to him first…”
“Yeah?” Meis, standing next to Gueira, raised an eyebrow. “With what ring, eh? What kinda ring could you possibly get that could satisfy Boss?”
"Yeah!! He only deserves the best, you know!"
“This one!!” With a triumphant shout, Galo slid his proposal ring box across the dining room table, with Gueira catching it just as stylishly.
Both former Mad Burnish members leered into the box as Gueira opened it. A long silence.
“Holy shit, he’s gonna love this,” Meis said with wide eyes as he inspected the ring with interest.
“He really is!!” Gueira said with a wide grin, breaking character. “Damn, Thymos, you’re really serious, huh?!”
“You couldn’t tell from me asking you two if I can marry him?!”
“Of course we can tell,” Meis scoffed with a smile. “You wear your heart on your nonexistent sleeve. You saved up a lot for this ring, huh? Even Gueira couldn’t save up enough for a ring like this…”
“I said I’d buy you a proper ring one day!” the redhead whined.
“I’m kidding, babe.” Meis leaned down and placed a kiss on his ambiguously-defined relationship partner’s head. “You’ve given me enough.”
“Babe, not in front of Galooo…”
“Uh, yeah, I’m still here,” Galo reminded them again. “So... do I have your blessing?”
“Consider your blessing given. Just… take care of Boss, okay?” Gueira said, voice cracking and face half-buried in Meis' shirt. “Be REALLY good to him or… or we’re going after you!”
“Is he okay?” Galo asked Meis, jerking a thumb at Gueira.
“Don’t worry about him,” he said, consoling Gueira on his shoulder. “But yeah, be good to Boss, all right? We can and will be the worst in-laws you’ll ever have if you play your cards wrong.”
“Can do!!” Galo confidently grinned and pounded a fist over his chest. “Thanks you guys. You can count on me to take care of Lio for the rest of our lives!”
Meis nodded assuredly, smiling. “So how are you gonna propose, anyway…?”
“I’ll take him to a fancy restaurant that serves pizza and do it there!”
“P… Pizza proposal?” Gueira piped up with a sniffle. “Boss deserves something better than that…!”
“Really think so? Aina thought the same thing…” He perked up right after, his hair bouncing. “Maybe I
pick a different place… Hey, you guys know Lio well too! Can you give me some pointers? On like, what he'd like?”
After a short look of surprise and exchanged glances, Gueira and Meis grinned. “Let’s see what we can do.”
Knock knock knock.
Lio took one last quick look at himself in the mirror he and Galo hung on the wall next to their front door before opening it up. He was pleasantly surprised by the large bouquet of roses greeting him upon opening the door, and he had to suppress the urge to giggle when Galo's face barely peeked over the roses themselves.
“Delivery,” the EMT grinned.
Lio couldn’t help but smile. “Silly, you went out just to get these?” He stepped aside and let Galo in.
“Yeah, sorry, I forgot to get these till the last minute…” Galo handed the bouquet over to Lio, who took the time to admire one of the roses in the bunch. He looked up just as Galo squeezed him and the bouquet in a hug. “Happy 4th, Lio.”
The shorter male hummed with a smile, hands too full to properly hug him back. “Happy 4th to you too.” He continued as they parted, “Just let me put these in a vase and we can leave. Where are we going tonight?”
Galo swallowed. “I heard about this real nice place uptown, if you wanna try it…”
Lio tilted his head in mild surprise. “Oh, someplace fancy? I’m up for that. Let’s get going in a minute.” He smiled as he left to put his flowers in a vase. As soon as he’d done so, Galo eagerly pulled Lio out of the house by the hand.
I just hope I can do this right...
The longer they stood at the receptionist’s counter, the more Galo felt out of place. About an hour of pitching restaurant suggestions between Aina and the Mad Burnish duo ended with all of them agreeing on this place, though, so Galo felt he had no choice but to go with it.
Only the best for Lio, after all…!
Still, the stuffiness of the staff and even the ambience was slowly getting to him. By the time he and Lio were seated, he had tugged on his collar enough to catch Lio’s attention.
“Are you okay, Galo?” he asked, mildly concerned.
“Yeah!” His nerves certainly were on edge, and he realized he nearly shouted there. “Sorry, just… a bit nervous with this place, I guess.”
From across the table, Lio gently smiled (that smile that Galo couldn’t help but get lost in every time he saw it; it just made him melt on the inside) and reached a hand over to place over Galo’s. “Relax, okay?” Galo let his shoulders slump a little as his fingers intertwined with Lio’s. “I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous too. This place is so high-end…”
Galo let himself chuckle at that. “I hear the food here’s good, though.” He squinted at the menu he held in his other hand. “... Least, that’s what Aina said…” he muttered.
“Hm? What was that?”
“Nothing. Hey, uh… what’re you getting?” Galo’s eyes skimmed the menu and their descriptions. Price was no concern for tonight (thankfully, with Lio having enough braincells to help Galo manage their finances), but every item on the menu sounded either too foreign for Galo to grasp (what the hell is “foie gras?”) or too plain for a night like this (though a steak did sound good…)
“Good evening.” Galo’s thoughts were interrupted as their server, prim and proper with the straightest posture he’d ever seen, approached. After placing down two water glasses, their server took out a pad and pen. “Have you selected what you’d like tonight?”
“Uh…” Galo glanced down at the menu.
Are they trying to rush us or something?! I have no idea what I want!
“I can go first if you haven’t decided yet,” Lio piped up.
“Oh, uh, I’ll have the tenderloin steak,” Galo quickly decided.
His boyfriend nodded. “And I’ll have the house special pizza, please,” he said.
Galo looked at him, dumbfounded. “P-Pizza? Wait, they serve that here?” He flipped through the menu, to find there was indeed a small section dedicated to pizza towards the back.
“Yes, sir,” the server nodded. “We haven’t actually had anyone order that in a while…”
“If I had to guess, it’s for kids who get dragged by their parents to this restaurant?” Lio asked with a smirk.
“Y… Yes, actually,” the server slumped in defeat. “And they never finish…” He straightened up again. “I will return with bread in a moment.”
“Thank you,” Lio smiled, handing his and Galo’s menus back.
Galo couldn’t resist pouting. “I didn’t realize they had pizza here… We could get pizza down the street, though.”
“It’s our thing, though.” Lio chuckled. “Sorry, but… it doesn’t feel right to skip out on pizza tonight.”
The taller male gave a weak smile. “That’s kinda what I said to our friends… but they were all, ‘oh, but it’s supposed to be special, you should go somewhere other than pizza!’”
Lio couldn’t help but laugh. “Oh, so you went to the others for advice?”
“You wanted tonight to be special, huh? You’re sweet. Silly and dumb sometimes, but sweet.”
Galo couldn’t help but sigh on the inside as he watched Lio take a sip of water from his water goblet. “And you’re beautiful,” he couldn’t help saying.
Lio nearly choked at that. “Shut up.” It was hardly an appropriate thing to say considering where they were sitting, but neither found it a problem. “Why do you have to say something like that out of nowhere?” He pouted.
Galo shrugged. “There’s a lotta ways I can describe you,” he started, “but that’s the first comeback I could think of.” He reached over the table carefully to brush some of Lio’s hair out of his face, which he didn’t protest even as a light blush filled his face.
“Comeback, huh?” he pouted. “You know, you look really good in a suit.”
It was Galo’s turn to blush. “They always feel stuffy to me, though.”
“All shirts feel stuffy to you.”
“You got me there.”
“But I was just thinking how nice you’d look if we were t--”
Lio was interrupted by the server returning with a basket of bread and butter for them. “Here you are, sirs.”
“Oh, thank you,” Lio said as the server left.
“What were you saying?” Galo asked, already eagerly buttering a piece of bread for himself.
“Oh, nothing. Later,” Lio said, tongue peeking past his lips as he also reached for the bread. “Hungry. Later.”
The topic shifted from there to other things going on in their lives. From Lio’s therapy sessions (Galo was thankful he had a therapist as cool as Dr. Martinez) to stories about Galo’s work (so much action, along with paperwork) to the smaller things that happened earlier that day, there was hardly ever a shortage of things to talk about.
“... so that’s why we have to find another place to buy weed,” Lio said, finishing off his latest story just as the server delivered their food (with an odd look on said server’s face upon hearing the ending to that story). “Thank you.”
Almost immediately, Lio cut a slice of pizza from his plate and offered it to Galo. Rather than taking it from his generous boyfriend’s hand like a normal person, Galo instead opted to take a bite from the slice as Lio held it, causing him to pout. “No, just-- just take the slice, Galo.”
“Oh, sorry.” With a sheepish grin, Galo took it and placed it on his plate before cutting a slice of his steak and offering a piece of it on a fork to Lio.
The shorter male blinked before opening his mouth and biting off the piece with a satisfied hum. “It’s good.”
Galo grinned and continued eating, thoughts continuing to pour into his mind as they had been the whole night. Even just watching Lio eat was a cherished moment for him. He refused to eat with utensils whenever pizza was involved, even in a setting like this. Maybe that was the result of the rough patch in his life. And yet he still struck Galo with how
he looked eating like that.
I never had any doubt before, but I want to spend the rest of my life with him.
Was now a good time? He felt it was a good time. How was he supposed to do this, though? He remembered the lesson Gueira and Meis gave him before he left their place the day he asked for their blessing. They said something about timing and the right moment. But he found it hard to remember what exactly they said with Lio drinking up all his attention right in front of him.
By the time they’d finish their meals, Galo realized how low on time he was.
Dammit, am I gonna do this now?! Is it the right moment?
“Would you like any desserts this evening, sirs?” Their server had returned with small menus displaying their wide selection of desserts.
Though Lio’s eyes sparkled at the pictures, he began to say, “I think I’m good—“
“W-We’ll have a couple’s parfait!” Galo cut in, pointing at the picture on the menu. The server nodded and took the menus back as Galo looked at Lio’s surprised face. “Sorry, I just… wanted a parfait.”
Or more time, more like…
“That’s all right,” Lio said. “I’m pretty full though.” He reached over and locked fingers with Galo again, a sly smile on his face. “Though if you’re up for it later, I
save room for something else…”
A blush crept on Galo’s face.
Dammit!! The mood’s still romantic, but not in the right way!!
“S-Sure, maybe, but, uh, first…”
The smile faded from Lio’s face. (Galo was never one to turn down an offer like that…) “You’re not up for it?”
“N-No, I am!” Galo said, maybe a little too loudly. He cringed internally upon seeing the other restaurant patrons turn their heads to him, much to Lio’s visible amusement. “I… uh…”
That’s it!! Now or never!!
Galo rose from his chair, maybe a little too quickly (and nearly knocking over a passing server whom he gave an apologetic look to). His heart was loud in his chest and his ears, and he worried that maybe he’d drop the box he fiddled with in his pocket-- wait, no, not yet, he still had a speech to give! He shouldn’t have stood up yet! Why did he decide now was a good time to propose?!
“Galo?” Lio asked, more curious than concerned. “Is something wrong?”
“I… gah, this is really bad timing, but… Lio!!” With his mind completely focused on what he wanted to say, he dropped all concerns on volume. “Lio… Lio Fotia. I…” Words died in his mouth. Why was this so hard? It was all the people around, wasn’t it? And now Lio’s staring at him--
He was staring at him.
, even. Lio knew where this was going already. Of course he did, he was smart like that.
“It’s okay, love,” Lio said softly, so gently. “Take your time.”
Galo swallowed, still feeling silly that he was just standing there, one hand shoved in his pocket. He suddenly felt bad about all the eyes on them. He wasn’t sure how Lio felt about all the attention. But it was too late to worry about that now. The fireman took a deep breath, collecting himself.
“Lio… you always are looking out for me,” he started with a weak smile. “All my life, I’ve been reminded of how reckless I can be. Especially by you. But you’re different from everyone else, ‘cause you still…” He took another breath. “You always look after me anyway. And I wanna look after you too, for the rest of our lives, if you’ll let me!!”
The smile on Lio’s face was spreading. Galo could’ve sworn his eyes were sparkling under the dim lighting of the restaurant.
“What I’m saying is…!!” With more confidence in his voice, he dropped onto one knee and pulled the ring box out of his pocket to open it. “Marry me, Lio?!”
The chorus of “aww’s” and applause around them caused Galo’s face to flare even more. He worried once more of how conscious Lio was at the moment, but to his surprise he instead saw a tear or two well up in the shorter male’s eyes as he rose from his seat, only to immediately lower down to Galo’s level to embrace him.
“Of course, dumbass,” he barely whispered into his ear. He pulled away, wiping the stray tears away and laughing. “You’ve got quite the sense of timing.”
Galo joined in his laughter, rising and taking Lio up with him in his arms. “S-Sorry! Gah, I swear, my heart’s on fire right now!!” He allowed Lio to inspect the ring, before taking it out of its box and sliding it on his finger. "I, uh, hope it's good... Is it good? Do you like it?"
Relief coursed through Galo's veins. “It matches you!”
“Oh, shush…” He and Galo sat back down just as the server returned with a parfait big enough for both of them.
“Congratulations, sirs,” the server beamed as he placed it down. "We hope you have a happy marriage."
“Thank you!” Galo grinned as he immediately picked up a spoon. “Something cold to, uh, cool me down a bit…”
“I’ll need to have a taste or two too…” Lio agreed, also beginning to dig in. Yet every time he took a bite, he couldn’t help but look at his ring again. “I had a feeling you’d propose tonight…”
“Really?” With his inhibition gone, Galo didn’t hesitate to talk with his cheeks full.
“You’re always a sap for moments like this, aren’t you? I was gonna say earlier, you'd look good in a wedding suit..." He giggled at the look on Galo's face. "I need to get a ring for you too..."
“So that's it, huh? I just… really wanted tonight to be special for you.” He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. “... But my timing was off, huh?”
Lio hummed. “Maybe a little… Right after I said
, no less.” He chuckled as Galo’s face flushed red again. “Sorry, it’s just REALLY funny to me.”
Galo couldn’t help but stifle a laugh at that. “Oh yeah, I don’t blame you. I, uh,” his voice lowered, “would love to take you up on that offer when we get outta here, though.”
Almost immediately, Lio raised his hand, waving over their waiter. “Check, please.”
“Hold on, I’m paying!!”
“You already paid for this ring, though!”
After the parfait glass was left empty and check left paid, the two walked out of the restaurant satisfied. Lio’s now-decorated hand rested in Galo’s large and comforting one, with the shorter male almost leaning on his new fiancé as they walked.
“... Sorry,” Galo suddenly said, “if I embarrassed you back there.”
“What’re you talking about?”
“I know it’s weird, but all those people staring at us back there just kinda… gave me a feeling?”
“I didn’t even notice.” There was a hint of sincerity in Lio’s voice. “When I realized what you were doing, it just felt like… you were the only one there. I didn’t even notice everyone staring.” He paused. "You're all that mattered to me in that moment."
“Heh.” It felt like a weight lifted off his chest. “That’s a relief… so my presence outshines everyone else, huh?”
“Oh, shut up,” Lio snarked, slipping his hand out of Galo’s only to sling it around his waist. “So now we’ve got a wedding to plan… Think Aina has some ideas?”
“Oh, DOES she?” Galo laughed, also wrapping an arm around Lio’s back as they walked. “Hey, let’s ask your guys for help too!”
“Pssh, they never had an actual ceremony, remember?”
“I know, but-- we’re gonna have a good one, right? With a cake and everything?”
“Of course. I want it to be special with you.” He looked up at Galo with enamored eyes. “Let’s worry about that tomorrow, though. I wanna celebrate this engagement at home.”
“Right!! Let’s go!” With little warning, Galo scooped him up into a bridal carry with another hearty laugh, much to his protest. “And I’ll practice carrying you now, if you don’t mind!!”