Title: Where Your Fingers Lock With Mine
Rating: Pg-13 for language
Summary: Five times they thought about marriage, and one time he asked.
AN: There was prompt challenge going on, over on tumblr, and I thought it looked fun, and then it turned out the prompts went out less than a week before the deadline. So that was a fun discovery. Anyway, it was an "engagement challenge" and my specific prompt was "cheap red wine."
Give me something
Something to hold on to
Give me something
That links me to you
Beck is pretty certain that nothing has ever made less sense than a wedding. As far as he can tell, it’s a lot of work, and all you get at the end is a wife. Which might not be so bad, but it can’t be worth the tuxedo. The suit his parents insisted he wear is uncomfortable enough; he really can’t imagine how much worse it would be in a tuxedo.
And he’s so bored! His dad and his uncle, and the other guys in tuxes have been standing up at the front of the church, since before Beck and his mom came in, and still nothing’s happening.
He pulls on his tie.
“Don’t fidget, sweetheart. It’s going to start any second, I promise.”
His mom smoothes his hair back.
“But my tie is really uncomfortable.” He whines.
“I know. As soon as the ceremony is over, you can take it off and I’ll put it in my purse. I bet your dad does the same with his tie.” She winks. It makes him feel a little better. But only a little.
“Why does Uncle Matt want to get married anyway?”
“Because he and Anna love each other. Just like your dad I love each other.”
“Well, I’m never getting married. Not if I have to dress up.”
His mother laughs, as if he’s said something funny, and pats his hand. “You don’t have to get married. But if you do, I’m going to tell this story at your wedding reception.”
The man on Cat’s tiny television screen drops to one knee in front of a stupid fountain, and pulls out a little square box, and starts in on a truly horrible speech about love and knowing when it’s right.
Cat squeals and starts bouncing up and down a little bit, which in turn, bounces Jade, who sighs.
She never should have agreed to let Cat pick out the movie. But horror movies scare Cat, and it’s Cat’s room and Cat’s TV, and besides, Jade really doesn’t want to be woken up when a too-scared-to-sleep Cat, makes her check for monsters under the bed and in the closet. It’s happened before. So, they’re watching a romantic comedy, because at least Jade can fall asleep after watching movies that scare her.
Cat pokes her in the arm.
“Wasn’t that so romantic? With the fountain and everything? Don’t you wish something like that will happen to you someday?”
She’s thirteen, and angry, and her mom just moved to San Francisco, and her house is too quiet at night, and falling in love seems like the dumbest thing anyone could ever do, and it’s not like anyone actually makes big romantic speeches like that anyway.
But Cat is Cat, so of course she can’t just let it drop.
“I don’t believe you.”
“Stop poking me! And why would I want someone to propose in front of a fountain? Fountains are stupid.”
Cat shrugs. “Okay, so no fountain. How do you want to be proposed to? Someday?”
The movie credits roll, over a freeze frame of the happy couple, standing before the priest.
“I don’t want to be proposed to. I’m going to scare them all away before they get a chance.”
Cat makes a face.
“On purpose.” Jade adds quickly, before Cat can get any ideas.
“So you’re never going to get married?”
Instead of answering the question, Jade launches into a speech about feminism and antiquated rituals, and how women shouldn’t feel like they have to get married to be complete. And yeah, a lot of it is stuff her mom told her two years ago, during the divorce, and maybe that’s been fresher in her mind lately, what with San Francisco, but it doesn’t mean any of it isn’t true.
Cat listens to the whole thing, only stopping once to turn the TV off. When Jade runs out of words, Cat shrugs again, and then snuggles closer, under her quilt.
“Well, if you change your mind, you can always marry me.”
Jade snorts. “Not legally.”
Cat looks up at her then, with that unnerving expression she makes sometimes. The one that makes it almost impossible to tell if she’s joking, or actually sincere.
“Of course not legally, Jade! We’re only thirteen.”
Beck’s stuck in the backseat of his Dad’s car, on the way to what promises to be a boring family dinner for his aunt’s birthday. Even more boring than usual, since the adults insisted that “family only” means he can’t bring Jade. Which is just stupid, in his opinion, because Jade is pretty much the only thing that makes the occasional family dinners bearable, and he’s pretty sure his mom agrees. She says Jade makes him a lot more bearable anyway, which is close to the same thing.
Not to mention that his oldest cousin is bringing her husband. Who she met barely more than a year ago. He and Jade had been to together three times that long, but she can’t come. She could totally come if they were married.
He’d mentioned that to his parents, before they left the house, and he couldn’t actually remember the last time he’d seen either of them go quite so pale.
In the front seat, his mom is telling his dad about something that happened at work, and gesticulating wildly. The glare of a street lamp catches on her left hand, and glints off the stacked engagement and wedding rings.
Beck has a sudden flash of Jade’s left hand, adorned with similar rings, and wow, okay, that’s a thought for a different day.
It’s also a thought that should be far more terrifying, probably.
Okay, so maybe she thinks about it. Sometimes.
Not in a creepy, stalker-y, let-me-show-you-my-binder-full-of-weddin
But she thinks about it.
When he holds her hand, or wraps a piece of her hair around his fingers, or kisses her for no reason in the middle of the hall, or reaches for her in his sleep like it’s an instinct.
Or even when he’s doing nothing at all. Just existing near her, with her, on the periphery of her awareness, always. She looks at him sometimes, and thinks that she could probably keep doing this “life” thing with him forever.
Three months salary right? That’s what he’s heard anyway. Except the thing is, he’s a bartender with massive student loans, and he’s got a landlord who expects to be paid rent. And three months of his salary, is basically three moths of his share of the rent, plus groceries, and anything left goes towards paying off those massive student loans.
He’s pretty sure that if he can’t pay his share of the rent or buy food for the next three months, Jade is going to turn him down and possibly kick him out, and it won’t matter what the ring looks like, or that she loves him.
With that thought in mind, he tracks down the case with the least expensive rings. They’re nice. Simple, with just a band and one diamond in the setting. The kind of ring he’d buy even if he had all the money in the world. Even so, it takes him an hour to decide which ring is the ring.
It’s hot in the city, the summer pressing down on everyone and everything, heavy and intrusive.
They’re twenty-two, living in a cheap, one room apartment, with no air-conditioning, and sleeping on a futon mattress on the floor. This is… not at all how she pictured her life when she was younger, but she’s a little older now, and she knows that sometimes-stuffy apartments and crappy jobs, and living paycheck to paycheck are the dues you pay when you’re serious about show business.
But she’s got a job, and she’s been getting callbacks for a play off-Broadway, and she has a roof over head, and she has Beck. No matter what else happens, she has Beck.
When he comes in from work at five in the morning, looking rumpled and sleepy, but God so good, she’s still awake and he blinks at the sight of her.
“Hey. You’re up?”
“I’m off tomorrow. Thought we could celebrate.”
He laughs and pulls his shirt over his head.
“We’re celebrating you being off tomorrow?”
“No. We’re celebrating the fact that we’re both off tomorrow. That, like, never happens.”
She brushes past him, on her way to their “kitchen” and he grabs her by the arm long enough to kiss her hello.
“We should go somewhere, tomorrow. Somewhere with air-conditioning.”
She grabs a couple of cups (Orange. Plastic. Five in a pack at the dollar store) and the wine (Red. Boxed. Cheapest she could find at the grocery store down the street) out of the cabinet.
“I actually considered crawling into the fridge earlier. Forget a bed frame, the first thing we’re buying when we get rich is air-conditioning.”
It’s a game they’ve been playing, on and off, since they were kids.
When we’re famous, when we make it, when we hit it big, when we’re rich, we’re getting—
The first time they’d played, the only item on the list had been, ‘a dog that doesn’t maul people.’ It’s expanded, over the years, to include things like swimming pools, and trampolines, and a house awesome enough to get on MTV. More recently, it has been filling up with things like paid off student loans, and a bed frame, and air-conditioning.
A swimming pool is still ranking pretty high, though.
Jade turns back to the living-slash-bedroom area of the apartment. Beck’s sitting on their mattress, down to just his boxers, and is regarding her, calculatingly.
She hands him a cup. “What?”
He grins. “I was just thinking that maybe we should hold off on the AC, if not having it means you keep walking around like that.”
She glances down at the tank top and underwear comprise her entire outfit.
“Babe, I’ll walk around like this for the rest of our lives, if you figure out some way to get us a window unit.”
She drops unceremoniously to the mattress, cross-legged and facing him on top of the one sheet they can stand to have on the bed.
He laughs, and nods towards the box of wine she’s opening. “Deal. This is a very classy celebration, I see.”
She twists the spout open and tips it into his cup, and then her own.
“You spend all night making fancy, expensive drinks. I figured the last thing you wanted to do when you came home was drink fancy, expensive wine.”
“Yeah, I would hate that.”
She smiles at him over the orange rim, before taking a sip.
And promptly chokes. Jesus, is that bad.
“Jade? You okay?”
She waves him off, still coughing. “Fine, just—oh my God, do not drink that. Fuck. No wonder it was the cheapest. Fuck.”
She opens her eyes—still watering slightly—and looks up to see him cautiously sniffing at his own cup.
She catches his wrist and lowers it, cup and all, back to his lap. Then reaches behind her, feeling for the bottle of water that she knows is at the side of the bed. Her fingers close around. Sweet, sweet victory.
“For real, Beck. We can’t both drink it, there’s probably no known antidote.”
She stops to drink half the bottle of water in one long pull.
“Yeah, but doesn’t misery love company?”
She swallows and caps the bottle.
“You’re sweet. But one of has to survive to bring this winery to justice. It’s already too late for me. Just promise that you’ll use the money from the settlement to buy an air-conditioner.”
He doesn’t laugh which is…odd. Instead, Beck stares at her like she’s said something deep and meaningful. Instead of a lame joke about being poisoned.
“Why are you staring at me like that?”
“Hand me my pants?”
She frowns. It’s about a million degrees in the apartment, and that’s with the window open, and he wants his pants?
When she hands them over, he rummages through the pockets for a minute, and then tosses them aside. He’s got something in his fist, but she can’t see what it is. At least he didn’t actually want to put on the pants. That’s somewhat of a relief. She’d been a little concerned that he was suffering heatstroke.
“Uh, Beck? What are you—?”
He opens his fist. There’s a ring in lying in his palm, and she’s almost completely certain that it has a real diamond in the setting, so it probably didn’t come out of a gumball machine.
Her mind goes totally blank, except for a high-pitched sort of buzzing. Her mouth still seems to be in working order though, because she’s speaking.
“You know I’m not actually dying? That was a joke?”
Beck runs the hand that isn’t currently holding a fucking engagement ring, through his hair, and smiles nervously.
“I know. I’ve been carrying this around for a week, waiting for the right time.”
Her mind is still weirdly blank. Which, is probably why she is still so calm, if a little frozen.
“So obviously you go with, five in the morning, when neither of is wearing pants, we’re holding disgusting wine, and I just made a joke about being poisoned.”
He gulps. “Obviously.”
It occurs to her then, through the buzzing in her ears, that Beck looks almost as shocked by his actions, as she feels.
“So, um, is there something you wanted to say?”
“You do know the definition of ‘the right time,’ right? Because usually when someone is waiting for ‘the right time’ they know what they want to say next.”
Beck blinks very hard, looks down at the ring in his hand, and when he looks back up, he’s smiling.
“The right time, is every time I realize that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. So it’s pretty much been ‘the right time’ every day since we were, fifteen. And I don’t want to wait any more. I love you and I’m going to spend the rest of my life loving you, and that’s going to happen regardless, but it would be really cool if I could spend the rest of my life being in love with my wife. So, I’m asking you to marry me. Will you? Marry me?”
The words—the official, can’t-be-mistaken-for-anything-else, this-is-really-happening—words, are what finally kick Jade’s brain back into gear. And once it starts, she can’t turn it back off.
Her first, totally inane, thought is that kids aren’t allowed to get married, at least not without permission.
They’ve talked about it before, of course they have, but it’s always been in sweeping statement about the future. ‘Somedays’ that they liked to fantasize about, far off and a part of their grown-up lives, just like the game they play about what to do with their money.
he has planned on being with him forever, for forever, but it was always the future she was picturing, not how they’d get there.
Somehow, they’ve grown up while she wasn’t watching, and ‘someday’ has turned into ‘today’, into ‘right now’. And she can’t breathe for a minute, because this is her life, their life, and it’s happening right now, right in front of her face, and she has this insane idea that if she doesn’t just take a moment to breathe it all in, she’s going to miss it entirely, and the whole thing will feel like it happened to someone else.
And then she realizes that she still hasn’t answered, still hasn’t said anything, and he is looking at her like maybe she is a bomb about to detonate, so she launches forward into his lap, and wraps her arms around him, and they both go tumbling back across the bed, and their wine is spilling red all over the sheets, but it hardly matters, because they’re both laughing, and she’s nodding, whispering “yes” over and over against his mouth.
He only pulls away long enough to slide the ring onto her finger.