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Biting The Bullet

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He'd put it off forever. Come up with all sorts of excuse why he shouldn't. It was too sudden, he wasn't ready, she wouldn't like it, it would ruin the tenuous semi-almost-quasi-but not quite romantic relationship between them, they were already living together so they didn't really need to do it, and on and on, the justifications becoming more and more lame.

But no, he just couldn't lie to himself, couldn't deny it anymore:

He really really wanted to marry Belldandy.

He'd been having a recurring daydream about their wedding. He wore a gray suit, with a white flower boutonniere. Megumi was his best (wo)man, grinning from ear to ear in a charcoal dress. Urd and Skuld were the bridesmaids, naturally. (And in his mind Skuld was perfectly well-behaved the whole ceremony.) Belldandy floated down the aisle, radiant as ever, angel wings outspread and catching the light.

During one of these daydreams he'd zoned out and came to himself minutes later to discover he'd impulsively bought a ring. If was perfect for her of course, with three small diamonds on a gold band, but he'd been so embarrassed he'd immediately tried to return it. (Only to find out, of course, that all sales were final. He'd settled for feeding the receipt to a passing dog and skimping on groceries for the next several weeks. Urd had not been happy about that.)

The ring had been burning a hole in his pocket ever since. He'd hid it in dozens of different locations as he'd tried to work up the nerve to give it to her. Urd had discovered it one of these times and, after an initial, "About time!", grew more and more irritated the longer he'd hedged and hesitated.

That morning, she'd taken him aside and told him, in no uncertain terms, "If I don't see that ring on Belldandy's finger by evening tonight, I swear to the Almighty One I'm force-feeding you a potion to turn you inside out, Keiichi. Are we clear on that?"

He'd gulped. "Crystal."

Needless to say, Urd's "encouragement" was not exactly encouraging for him right now. It was already sunset and they were due to head back to the house any minute now. The only reason they hadn't already left was because Belldandy wanted to see the stars come out.

As the sun slipped behind the horizon and the sky deepened to purple twilight, Keiichi took the little black velvet case out of his pocket and stared down at it, turning it over nervously in his hands.

Well, it was now or never.

Keiichi cleared his throat. "So, um… Belldandy. Did you enjoy yourself tonight?"

"Oh yes, Keiichi!" she gushed at once, clasping her hands by her heart. "The restaurant you picked was very delightful. And just look!" She tilted her head up towards the first stars just peeking into existence in the inky blue sky. "Isn't it beautiful?" she breathed.

Her happiness was so palpable it almost made him sigh. His nerves danced chaotically inside him, but he swallowed and addressed her. "Belldandy?"

"Yes?" she said, turning to him.

Oh shoot, just the sight of her was making his knees turn to jelly and sapping all his confidence away. "I-I-I-I have s-s-something important to ask you," he stammered.

"What is it?"

"I want you to—that is—I mean—I um—" Keiichi paused a moment, lifting his hand and slapping himself across the face to knock his brain back into order. He flipped open the box and jabbed it towards her face, looking down, squeezing his eyes closed, and blurting out, "WillyoumarrymeBelldandy?"

There. It was out. Thank the Almighty One it had only taken him two tries this time.

Belldandy blinked, her kind brown eyes widening a fraction. "What?" she said.

Keiichi took a deep breath. "I want to be with you forever, Belldandy," he told her, with much more eloquence than before. "I know we already live together but… I kinda want to make it official. You know, by human standards." He still didn't look at her, scuffing the pavement with his toe. "I've been having these fantasies about our wedding, and planning out all the details, which I know is kind of weird since the girl is usually supposed to do that but I—"

"Yes!" she interrupted with a happy gasp.

"Pardon?" he said, looking up at her at last.

Her face beamed with joy, her eyes shimmering. She looked like she could barely contain herself. "I will, Keiichi! Oh, I will, I will!"

She flung her arms around his neck. Keiichi staggered a moment, then righted himself with a smile, his nerves shuddering in relief.

"Here," he offered. "Let's put it on."

He slid the ring onto her slender finger and she held it up, admiring its sparkle in the starlight. (Was it him or were they much brighter than usual tonight?) Then, by the same impulse that had seized him when he bought the ring, he was compelled to seal the deal with a kiss.

So he leaned forward and met her mouth with his, earning a startled—but pleased—noise from Belldandy.

And they kissed. And it was glorious. Like fireworks and warm cookies and summer heat all in one. Man, kissing is great! Why did I never try it before? I should have kissed Belldandy a long time ago. Or maybe that one cute girl back in junior high that I had that big crush on, Keiichi thought to himself in a daze.

He thought she touched her hand to his cheek once. He didn't quite remember later; it was all kind of a warm fuzzy blur. But when he pulled back and slid his arm around her waist, snuggling her into him with a contented sigh, he did notice one thing.

"…Where did all these flowers come from?" he wondered, looking with a puzzled expression at the dozens of rosebushes springing up from street all around them.