What can I offer her?
His thoughts had been trailing along those lines often lately, but today they seemed particularly insistent. It was a question he didn't have the courage to ask anyone but himself, though he lacked any sort of solid answer.
Yusuke bared his teeth to the counterpart in the mirror, his hands fumbling with the thick, expensive cloth of his tie. He blamed his inability to knot the monstrosity on the fact that dressing up was ridiculous and had never been his corner of expertise. There was little chance that he would admit the conflict was more internal than anything else.
What could he offer her? He had no high school education, no job experience that would be very useful now that demons and humans co-existed with one another, and the only money-related connections he had were through mobsters known by his mother.
The young man grinned, envisioning the reaction his wife to be would have if he brought home the brute men he had become so accustomed to. His lips then fell, and he shuddered, knowing all too well the nagging that would follow.
No, Keiko would never allow him to lead such an indecent life, with or without her.
"Aaargh!" Yusuke growled, tugging at the clothing around his neck as he outwardly expressed his aggravation, "How the hell am I supposed to put this damn thing on?"
"Perhaps I can assist you, Yusuke."
He turned, his chaotic mind still able to recognize the familiar tone of his intellectual friend. Yusuke frowned, more of a masculine pout really, and grumbled as he glanced towards the ground, "Nah, I got it."
Kurama, his suit neat, pressed, and distinguished, only smiled, "All right then."
The young man attempted to give his concentration to the blasted article of clothing, unable to hide from the amused, ever watchful gaze of his red headed companion. His hands grew nervous under the presence of a one-man audience, and the smooth fabric slicked right through his fingers, causing his anger to accumulate on the features of his face. After a third try, he let loose another growl, snapping towards his relaxed observer, "Hey, I said I got. You can go now."
The ever-patient friend kept his smile in place, making his way towards Yusuke as he said, unable to withhold the bit of humor in his tone, "Oh, yes, I see you have it quite under control."
With the strong yet controlled gesture of a wise man who carried both soiled and cleansed hands, Kurama moved passed Yusukes fumbling hands and began to professionally knot the tie into perfection, "It's a special day for you though, so even though your perfectly capable of doing it yourself, I'm obliged to offer you some sort of friendly gesture. Please, allow this to be mine."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever…"
Yusuke looked grudgingly down at the skillful motions of Kuramas hands, able to accomplish in seconds the very same thing he had struggled with. He felt his fingers twitch, wrapping and releasing them into fists in an attempt to relieve himself of the pressure building up inside him.
A guy like Kurama would have so much more to give her. That was the type of man Keiko should have been with from the start, someone intelligent and responsible, someone she wouldn't have to nag at all the time.
Kurama finished the knot and gave him a look of reassurance along with a quick pat on the shoulder, "There we are, all done. I'm sure Keiko will be very pleased when she sees you."
"Uh huh…" Yusuke muttered as he focused on his reflection, tugging and loosening his tie absentmindedly as he tried with all his effort to forget the thoughts that floated in his head. He ultimately failed at that too, Kuramas words echoing towards him, one in particular. Pleased.
He took a deep breath, watching as the air gathered in his cheeks and came out in a small gust through his lips. There was always his Ramen Shop. It was still just a little local stand on the corner, but business was decent and he had a fair amount of regular customers. His little "problem solving" business had been more or less a failure and hadn't brought in many clients, except for the occasional fan of one of his demon buddies or the rare demon hater. Yusuke shook his head a little. If he had to tell one more person that no, he wasn't going to kill some demon just because they happened to knock up their willing daughter, he was going to go ballistic. Honestly, it wasn't the poor guys fault if some girl didn't want to keep her legs shut.
So there was no money in that part of his business, though he still kept the doors open in hope that maybe that would change for him someday. Yusuke felt his mouth grow a bit dry as his thoughts wandered deeper. Sure, at least the Ramen Shop was coming along decently, but would it be enough for him to support a wife, maybe even a family?
"Getting cold feet Yusuke?"
Yusuke blinked, turning his head towards his old friend. He'd forgotten Kurama had been standing beside him.
"Keiko won't be very happy if you stand her up at the wedding." He gave a gesture towards the door, "Perhaps we should get going?"
"Yeah…" Yusuke gave a crooked grin, his defenses taking the route they've always taken when his emotions started getting a little too open, "She'd be pretty pissed off, huh?"
He stuffed his hands deep into his pockets, strolling out of the room as he spoke through a wide, perverted smile, "Gotta keep her in a good mood for tonight, after all! Heh heh heh heh."
The pair walked down the church hall in silence, the muffled noises of preparation growing louder with each step. They came to the door that would lead them to all their friends, dressed and ready for the day's event, and waiting for the groom to make his appearance so the show could begin.
He took another breath, and as he did this Kurama gave him another smile, "You'll do fine, Yusuke."
Somehow, he got the feeling the reassurance applied to more than just standing at the alter and repeating a few vows. Yusuke returned the smile, his expression grateful, and nodded, "Yeah."
He opened the door, revealing a room almost as chaotic as the Spirit World office, girls in dresses scattering about to get everyone in their assigned seats while men in tuxedo's carried in last minute decorations. The small amount of confidence he'd been able to gain began to slip, his shoulders stiffening as he walked passed rows and oceans of flowers and ribbons, looking to find his place among the havoc.
"Yusuke! Oh, there you are! Thank goodness, I was afraid you were going to be late! Keiko wouldn't have been very happy with that!" Botan, clad in lace and ruffles, spoke with flushed cheeks as she grabbed him by the arm. He opened his mouth to speak, but she didn't give him the chance as she began to tug at him with a strength he never knew she possessed, "Come on, now! Everyone's waiting!"
Yusuke was placed at the end of the aisle, next to an overly cheery priest, the large crowd of mingled humans and demons growing quiet at his appearance. He stared out towards the gathered group of people, most he knew, some he didn't, and felt his throat tighten. They looked at him as though they were expecting something of him, for him to do something, but all he was told to do was stand exactly where he was standing, and wait for the music to start. Kuwabara, loud and obnoxious as always, joined him at his side, grinning that wide grin of his as he whispered, nearly as excited as the girls, "This is it Urameshi! Oh man, I'm so nervous!"
"You idiot, I'm the one getting married, not you!" Yusuke scowled, a bit too loudly as some of the guests began to chuckle. He noted to himself the one advantage of having Kuwabara as his best man; at least it made him look good in comparison.
"Hey yeah, say, why aren't you more nervous Urameshi? I mean, you're getting married! That's pretty big!" His friend looked at him suspiciously, which only caused Yusuke to grow more irritated.
"Yeah, so? It's not like I don't know what I'm doing, so why don't you just shut that big ugly mouth of yours before I get Hiei to replace you as my best man!"
Kuwabara laughed at the threat, pointing towards the nearby fire demon as he cried, "That shrimp? Yeah right! People would think he was the ring bear!"
Hiei scowled, reaching for his katana before Kurama's peaceful tone interrupted him, "Now Hiei, you don't want to make a mess at the wedding, do you?"
"Hmpf." His grouchy expression stayed in place, though his hand dropped from the hilt of his sword, "I didn't even want to come to this ridiculous event. I'm only here on orders."
"Oh? Whose orders, may I ask?"
"None of your concern."
"The brides ready! Places everyone!" The voice of a woman rang through out the room, silencing all small talk as the attention left the groom and wandered instead to the start of the aisle.
The pianist entered right on cue, beginning a light, lovely tune just moments before the first bridesmaid appeared, followed by Yukina, who was then followed by Botan, the maid of honor. As Botan made her way to the end of the aisle, the music coming to an end as she did so, she smiled to Yusuke, her eyes lit as she mouthed, "This is it!"
A familiar tune filled the air, the cue that everyone had been waiting for. Yusuke felt his heart began to flicker, only to come to a pounding halt within his chest, the breath in his lungs held tightly for a moment. He felt his eyes widen and was only faintly aware of the sounds of gushing and awe from the guests as his bride made her way past them.
His bride. Yusuke stared, mouth slightly agape, at the woman who was his bride. She was beautiful, he wouldn't have even joked about that, it was almost frighteningly so. The vast difference between the glowing, angelic bride and the girl he'd come to love was so intense it sent a short panic to him. It didn't last long though, not even a second. The angel met his eye, and past her delicate lace veil and thick lashes laid two, warm eyes, swarmed in every single emotion he'd felt that day. He noticed how they began to crinkle, smiling along with her lips, as she grew closer to him. He could almost hear Keiko's voice speaking through them as the music faded and the crowd dulled into the background, whispering how it was just the two of them now, in their world, where it was safe. It was ok now.
They were the most wonderful words Yusuke had heard all day.
He reached out a hand for her, and as her soft skin lay against his tough, roughened palms, he smiled. He supposed he must have heard the priest giving them their vows, though he didn't remember hearing anyone's voice but Keiko's, for he repeated them word for word without any trouble as they exchanged rings. He did, however, recall the priest announcing his favorite part of the ceremony, and obliged all too willingly as he placed his hands around Keiko's waist and pressed his lips to hers. When they parted, his eyes glanced down to hers, and he smiled at the surprise they held as, for a brief moment, every one of his concrete walls were dragged down. His eyes crinkled to her, just as hers had for him, whispering words that brought little tears to her gaze.
I love you.
He closed his eyes, urging himself to retain control as he felt her lips trail down his neck and across his shoulder, her small, soft body curling into him. His hands gripped her bare waist tighter, bringing her closer to him as he murmured indistinguishable words. She lifted her lips from his shoulders and drew them up to his chin, where she gently kissed his mouth before running a hand through his hair, and pulled back slightly to look at him. He opened his eyes, watching as her stare glistened with unshed droplets of liquid, a small, contented smile on her lips. She, in turn, closed her eyes, nudging her nose against his as she shifted a leg closer to his body, whispering in the softest tone, "Thank you…"
"Keiko…" He slipped his hands into her waves of brown hair, holding her head so her could look at her, wondering what her words could have meant. Their bodies moved against one another, molding together as if it were the only natural thing to do, and the sensation of their skin pressing against each other caused his mind to blank. He closed his eyes again and brought her head down towards him, kissing her eagerly, breaking the touch only to shift his body so that she was under him. Their bodies tensed together as the new sensation filled them, staring at one another in wonderment as their instincts led their hips into movement. His hold on her grew firmer as he buried his head into the nook of her shoulder, whispering words that became incoherent as they mixed with her own hushed murmurs. Their hips paused, only for a moment as they gasped into one anothers skin, savoring the intensity while both struggling to control it.
He looked up, lifting his head from her shoulder to look at her face, shining towards him with an odd mix of adoration and astonishment, "How could you ever think you weren't good enough, when you've given me this…"
He blinked, opening his mouth, about to wonder how she had known what he'd been thinking earlier, but then shut it, suddenly more curious about what it was he had given her. He looked down towards their bodies, then to her questionably, his head giving a bit of a tilt as he tried to process her words.
She only laughed, shaking her head gently, "No, silly, not that…" She wrapped her arms around his neck and brought him closer to her, staring at him with grateful eyes as she whispered, "This…"
He stared back at her, only for a moment, before he smiled in understanding. His lips found hers again, their bodies regaining rhythm once more against each other.
She was right, as usual. His offer for her was more than what any successful businessman could give her, more than even a guy like Kurama had for her.
They could give her a nice house, a good reputation, a stable cash flow. Things that were important, somewhat.
They couldn't give her an entire world though, made only for them, safe only for them.
He could, and he did.
It was, he knew, the best decision he'd ever made.
Serenity: Please note that the l's I used for space (which looks like a wedding cake, by the way!) are the modified x's taken from DarkMignonette, another wonderful Yusuke/Keiko fan and fanfiction writer. I highly suggest reading her work! If anyone else has other suggestions for creating space in fanfiction, please let me know! Also, constructive critisim is apprechiate )