title: the Ceremony
fandom: Free!
characters/pairings: Makoto/Haru/Rin, Ren/OFC, Ran, the Tachiparents
rating: G/Teen
warnings: wedding ceremony
summary: It's Ren's day, finally.
notes: part of the Happy Household Club, another milestone closer to moving in... also fulfills the marriage block for my trope bingo card.

Ren fiddled with his himo, digging his fingers into the pom. He looked anxiously at his reflection, and at his brother over his shoulder, straightening the back of his haori. "All right, here's the plan. We ditch these ridiculous outfits quickly, go out through the kitchen, and, I don't know, go to a movie or something."

"I somehow think that Katsumi-chan would disapprove of that plan," his brother replied amicably. He smiled at Ren, and Ren sighed in defeat.

"This whole thing is just... why do weddings have to be such big deals, anyway? We should just go to the courthouse, fill out some paperwork, and then go to dinner with our folks, something like that," Ren complained, shifting from foot to foot. "Also, I hate tabi socks."

"...It's a good thing, Ren. Being able to celebrate this milestone in your life," Makoto said quietly, but Ren felt cold inside his belly. He looked at his brother in the mirror, but Makoto was hiding his face. "Anyway, it's meaningful, right? It signifies how important the life you're embarking upon is to you. That you're willing to put on tabi socks for a few hours for it. Nothing worth gaining comes without sacrifice."

Now Makoto was smiling, and he even winked at his little brother. Ren felt calmer. He turned to face his brother. "I don't know. I have a feeling that building a house that's a testament to your spouses' obsession with water is a much better sacrifice." He made his brother laugh, so that was something. "Anyway, people elope, and they're just as married as people who have to wear the tabi socks, so what do the tabi socks really mean?"

"They mean you'll have nice pictures to show your kids and grandkids," Makoto laughed, and he straightened out Ren's hair, not that it needed to be straightened. Not that Ren minded being fussed over and primped by his big brother.

"The clothes for the reception aren't much better," Ren sighed gloomily, making one last stab at getting his big brother's sympathy. "Monkey suits, that's what they're called, you know. And you don't have to be taller than me today, do you?" Ren pouted.

Makoto looked surprised, and then he laughed with earnest surprise. "Ren, I've always been taller than you!"

"That's because you're older!" Ren agreed. "But we're both adults now. You don't need to be so tall anymore, oniichan," Ren finished, making cute eyes at his brother. Sometimes, when he made cute eyes at Katsumi, she agreed to let him just leave the dishes in the sink to soak overnight.

Makoto just undid his work and mussed up his little brother's hair. "Brat!"

"Hey!" Ren objected, but he didn't push his brother's hands away.

"Aren't you guys ready yet? Katsumi will dressed before you at this point!" Ran peeked into the groom's dressing room.

"No girls!" Ren mock-scowled. "This is a guys-only zone!"

Ran just came in, rolling her eyes. "Don't be stupid, that only applies to the bride. Just look at you," she sighed, and then she pulled out a small comb from her tiny sachet. "You can't leave boys alone, that's a fact."

"We were doing just fine until a moment ago," Makoto offered gently.

"Well, you look respectable now," she emphasized, looking Ren over. "But oniichan looks better in the traditional clothes. Make sure you keep your shoulders back, Ren! Otherwise, it won't hang right!"

"I got it, I got it," Ren squirmed away from his sister's touch. "Oniichan only looks better because he's better looking! There's nothing I can do about that!"

"That's for sure," Ran rolled her eyes. "But..." she took a step back, and examined Ren from tip to stern. "You're all right. So! Are you sure you're ready? Supposedly, you only get married once, you know," she warned him.

"You'll probably get married three times. No, four," Ren scowled.

Ran leaned in and pinched his waist, hard. "Four men would be blessesd if I let them marry me! You really are sure about this? You're... happy?"

Ren blinked, taken aback by his sister's uncommonly serious tone. "Yeah, I am. I love her. We're going to be a family."

For a split second, Ran looked dejected, and then she winked at him with her usual swagger. "Well, then." She leaned in and kissed his cheek. "I guess I'll let her have you. But only because I'm sick of being responsible for you, anyway," she winked at him, grinning.

"Since when have you been responsible?" Ren complained, but Ran was already turning on her heel.

"Don't take too long, boys! You've got to be ready for your bride!" she called out as she slipped out the door.

"What was that about?" Ren huffed.

"I suspect this is a very emotional day for her," Makoto said lovingly.

"Why? I'm the one getting married!" Ren pouted.

"Exactly," Makoto smirked at him.

"She's mostly only torments and bullies me," Ren looked at the door, as if he could see through it to where Ran had gone off to join their parents. "Why would she even care?"

"I think she's always felt like... you belonged to her. That's why she was free to torment and bully you. Remember that time in the third grade when she was given five weeks detention for knocking out some boy's teeth because he pushed you into the mud?" Makoto reminisced.

"That was mortifying," Ren sighed.

"To you," Makoto agreed compassionately. "But to her, she was protecting her little brother."

"She was born five minutes before me!" Ren held his arms out in exasperation. "And she used to push me into the mud all the time!"

"But she wasn't going to let anyone else do it," Makoto beamed. "Now," he tugged on Ren's collar and made sure his hakama were still tightly fixed. "Are you ready?"

Ren took a deep breath, and he thought about Ran in her simple kimono, and Katsumi in her elaborate outfit and her wig. He smiled to himself without realizing, and looked up at his brother.

"As ready as I'll ever be."

It's going to be tough to follow up Katsumi-chan's parents there. That was a really incredible video, amazing, right? We have a slideshow... I don't know if I can explain to you how much today means to my wife and I. As you can see, when Ren was born, he was tiny. In fact, he was in quite a bit of distress. It often happens with twins. For a while during the pregnancy, we were afraid we were going to lose one of them, and if we had, it most probably would have been Ren. Ran was kicking and screaming in the hospital and ready to go home, but Ren was still so small and in ICU... Our oldest, Makoto, had to stay with the neighbors for over a week, we had to go to the hospital in Osaka. When we first brought the twins home, we were honestly talking about moving out of Iwami. We were afraid Ren would continue to need medical care, and that we'd be too far away from a good hospital. I think you can tell from the slideshow, it was hard to find pictures of Ren growing up when he wasn't crying because Ran edged him out, or fallen over... In fact, the only pictures we have of Ren smiling as a kid are when Makoto is holding him. We literally could not find any pictures of him smiling without his big brother. So, when he told us he wanted to go to college in Tokyo... well, we worried. A lot. It's what parents do. But as you can see, and as you know, childhood isn't always the best predictor. Ren grew up confident and independent, probably as a reaction to his twin as much as anything we did... so we kept our fears to ourselves. He told us he met someone, and we worried about a boy from the boonies and a big-city girl, but we kept our fears to ourselves, and it turned out Katsumi-chan is one of the sweetest young ladies we've ever known. So, today... we feel incredibly blessed. We feel blessed that Ren was strong enough to come into this world, strong enough to hold on and fight to stay in the world, strong enough to survive being raised with his sister, and strong enough to make his own way in life. But best of all, we feel blessed that he'll be making his way with someone as special as he is. Congratulations, Ren and Katsumi. May your life always be filled with love and laughter.

One older lady leaned over and whispered to another older lady, "I still don't understand how Ren-chan is the first to get married. I thought for sure Mako-chan would have been married by now."

"It's not for a lack of trying. There's not a single eligible girl on the coastline who wouldn't have wanted to marry him. Such a sweet boy..."

"I thought Ran-chan was going to get knocked up in high school."

"Oh, you're terrible! ...Well, I'm a little surprised that she hasn't gotten knocked up yet, but."

"What do you think of the bride? Be honest."

"You're the worst. She's such a pretty girl, what are you going to say?"

"She is pretty. Awfully skinny, though. I can't see too many children coming out of those hips."

"You have to be careful with city girls. Is she going to be working? They're still young, of course, but..."

"Sending him all the way up to Tokyo for school. They should never have let him! I said so at the time, I said so many times. He'll meet some skinny city girl and they'll both work up here and then it'll be ten years before there's any hope of a grandchild. I said so many times."

"Mako-chan should settle down with some nice girl. I know several who would be happy to have his children! He's got a good job. What beautiful children he'd have, too. If he married that Nakanishi girl, they'd be sure to be tall, too."

"That would make for an excellent match. ...I'm not sure Mako-chan likes girls. You know. Like that. Has he ever even dated before? There's a limit to how innocent a boy can be..."

"I don't think he's very innocent, but in any case, he can still make a baby. Children these days can be very selfish. My cousin wasn't that interested in girls, either, but he got married and had three children. For a man, it's not such a sacrifice, anyway. My cousin was on a fishing boat at least eight months out of the year anyway."

"It's a different world view. We have to accept the changing of the tides, as my mother used to say."

"Your mother was a good woman."

"Yes, she was."

Ren's not my little brother, but I was with his brother when Ran and Ren were first brought home. I remember thinking that it was odd that the two babies weren't the same size, and I just touched Ren's palm, and he grabbed onto my finger with such strength. I was amazed that such a small hand had such strength. I feel lucky because I was neighbors with the Tachibanas. I was lucky to be Makoto's friend. I was lucky that, as a child who lived in a house with no other children, I got to see brand new babies, and have a brand new baby hold my finger. I feel lucky that I could be enough a part of their lives growing up that Ren once complained that why did Haru-niichan have to go sleep in that other house, we could play more if I just stayed with them. I feel lucky to be here today, and I know Ren feels lucky, to have met Katsumi-chan. Congratulations, both of you. And just remember, you'll always have big brothers to depend on, no matter where your new life takes you.

One fashionably dressed young lady swirled her finger around the edge of her glass, her eyes glued to the back of the reception hall as she leaned over to speak to her friend. "Katsumi made a huge mistake."

"What are you talking about, you love Ren."

"Sure, I do. Ren's a catch. He's got a nice little ass."

"Yeah, I know. When he and Katsumi broke up for that time sophomore year, you practically snuck into his apartment to hide in his bed naked."

"I tried, I couldn't get the lock. But look. Ren's a catch, but look at his brother."

"Yeah, yeah, his brother's taller and broader and he has those eyes..."

"And thighs. Shit. I can't tell from here, but I think he's really packing, too."

"Please stop mentally undressing the groom's brother. ...I think Ren's sister is pretty hot, too. She's got... great legs."

"What? Yeah, I guess. I really wish Ren's brother would just take off his suit jacket, I mean, it's warm in here, right?"

"I don't know, I could see Ren's sister's nipples just a bit ago. I don't think she's wearing a bra."



"...Do you think Ren and Katsumi are going to last? I give them five years."

"Are you seriously planning on rebounding with him? You're an awful friend, you know that, right?"

"I'm not planning on it. I hope to be married in five years. Katsumi's so lucky. Getting married would be so much more fun than looking for a job."

"I pity the man you will invariably end up cheating on once you do get married."

"Ren's brother has two hot friends, too, did you notice?"

"...I'm pretty sure they're all gay. Not positive about the redhead, though."

"What? No, I don't get that vibe at all."

"I don't think your vibes are properly calibrated. You've never needed them to be."


"I'm getting another drink, you?"

"Oh, absolutely!"

So far tonight, I've basically been portrayed as the bully older sister who inadvertently toughened Ren up and got him ready for the world. That's a complete lie and I hope you all realize it. It was never me toughening him up. Instead, it was completely the other way around. Stop laughing, mom, I'm serious. It has always been Ren letting me shine, letting me be strong, letting me take center stage. And sure, I gave him a hard time. If you've never had a twin, you've never fully realized what kind of competition having a sibling the exact same age is. It's best for both of us that we weren't born the same gender. But Ren is the reason that I grew up to be as incredible as I am. No, it's true. He didn't tell me, either, that he was planning on going to Tokyo for college. I don't know if he thought I'd try to talk him out of it, or if he thought I'd follow him... but I always understood, even if I didn't always like it. But even if Ren was always my biggest and most annoying competition, he's also always been... he's always been my best friend. We've shared everything best friends could share. So, even though he went behind my back and ran off to school far, far away... he's still always had my back, he's still always been the one I could share everything with, and he's still been my best friend. However, there's a time and a season for everything, so I've been told... and it's true that I'm about as amazing as a person can be. So, today, I'll let Katsumi-chan have my Ren. Hopefully, he'll be as good for you as he's been for me. And in exchange, you just have to take care of him a little bit, but Ren is a lot easier to care for than most guys, I've already broken him in pretty well, so he shouldn't cause you too much trouble. Best of luck. Both of you.

The mother of the bride leaned against the father of the bride, and smiled up at him drunkenly. "It's a good wedding, don't you think?"

"A good wedding is the start of a good marriage."

"I'm sure they'll be fine. Probably. He's a good kid. He's polite. Super polite."

"I think it's just that we scare him, still. Which is a good thing."

"Daddy's little girl isn't daddy's little girl anymore. They'll be fine, though. They're both good kids. Nice kids. And his family is nice, too, don't you think? It's so sweet, how his parents are still in love, isn't it?"

"Well, we're still in love, right, honey?"

"Sure, I mean, of course, but there's being in love, and there's being in love. They were so cute, kissing in the corner at the rehearsal dinner."

"You went looking for them. If they'd seen you peeking on them, I'd have been so mortified."

"I wasn't looking for them! I told you that!"

"Right. You were looking for Ren's older brother and his boyfriend. Or so you believe."

"I just can't figure out which one it is! It must be the redhead, right? The dark one, he's the neighbor boy, he even gave a speech. That's why he's here. But why would the redhead show up? I mean, if they lived in Tokyo, I can see showing up just for the party."

"Damned expensive way to just show up for the party."

"Exactly. He came all the way up to Tokyo, he came to the wedding, he's just the friend of the groom's brother? No, he has to be the boyfriend! But the dark haired one is always pretty close to the brother, too..."

"Maybe they're all three together."

"I can't believe that didn't occur to me!"

"I wasn't trying to encourage you..."

"There's no discouraging a fujoshi, darling. You know that."

"We've been married for about twenty-five years now. You would think that I would learn."

"Ooh... I'm picturing it right now, and you were absolutely right, darling, it does work best with all three!"

"Please don't do anything I will regret."

"What a splendid family our daughter is marrying into!"


I don't want to talk for too long. We've already had some wonderful speeches, videos, and performances from friends and family. For some reason, I'm the last to speak... so I'll try to keep this brief. I've been thinking about marriage a lot... quite a lot this past year. Thinking about today, the special day for Ren and Katsumi... it's not just about today. It was a beautiful ceremony, and I was so proud of my little brother. Katsumi is a vision. This reception... it's incredible. The beautiful thoughts and videos, and just... being surrounded by so much love and good feelings. I just... it all makes me so happy for Ren and Katsumi. Because marriage is a beautiful thing. Marriage is the day to day, the continually making the decision to make your life bigger, make room for the other person. Marriage is a bit of work... not every day is a good day. There are fights, and there are hard times. There can be stress. Which is how you know how wonderful a thing it is, that you've found who it is that you want have with you on the good days and bad, when you're stressed out and when you're relaxed, that you've found who is worth letting them drive you crazy, and who will let you drive them crazy. Because it's exactly because there are bad days and hard times and stress that you are grateful that you're not alone. Ren and Katsumi... they communicate well, they care about each other. I look forward to the days and the months and years ahead, to sharing in their lives as family. And I've never been more proud, or happier, to be Ren's brother, and I've never felt so privileged to be Ren's brother, than I do today. So please, let's all raise our glasses and give cheer. For Ren and Katsumi!

Haru pulled off his tie before Makoto had closed the door to their hotel room and he tossed it away. He turned around with the bed behind him and flopped down.

"Aw, look at him, he's smiling," Rin grinned at Makoto, and then he sat down next to Haru and poked at Haru's cheek.

"Don't bother him," Makoto cajoled.

"Yeah, don't bother me," Haru swatted at Rin's finger, but he was sleepy and slightly drunk and happy, so he only swatted twice before he gave up.

Rin kept poking. "I like bothering you. I like that annoyed look on your face. You trained me to like it. You wouldn't even speak to me unless you were annoyed, so I had to be annoying to you."

"Don't blame Haru for you being annoying," Makoto teased. He hung up his jacket.

Rin stuck his tongue out at Makoto. "You don't find me annoying. You find me endearing. You've chosen to embiggen your life to fit me in."

"Embiggen is not a word," Makoto shook his head.

"Yes, it is, it was on a tv show," Rin rolled his eyes. "Hey. Hey, don't fall asleep," he poked Haru more forcefully. "What happened with your father?"

"Rin!" Makoto turned suddenly.

"What? He's smiling, he's been drinking all night, he saw his dad like two weeks ago and he won't say a word! Now's as good a time as any," Rin shrugged.

Haru blinked, and Makoto sat down on Haru's other side. "Don't push him!"

"Sometimes, people need pushing," Rin reasoned.

"He blamed it all on my mom," Haru said hollowly. "He said she was messing up their lives just for some... fling."

"Wow, your dad is an asshole." Makoto reached across Haru and swatted Rin. "What! I know it doesn't change anything, but it's still a fact, his dad's an ass!"

"I agree. I asked him if he was going to marry the mother of his other children, and he said, I suppose I have to. So I asked him if he was having a ceremony, but he said they'd probably just fill out the paperwork and not make a big deal about it," Haru sighed.

"How romantic. This woman must be kind of desperate," Rin rolled his eyes.

"Rin," Makoto hissed under his breath, but he looked amused.

"I asked him when I was going to meet my siblings, and he said... he said..." Haru broke off and closed his eyes.

Rin and Makoto shared a worried look.

"He said they were young and they couldn't be exposed to someone with such a deviant lifestyle," Haru frowned.

"That asshole. Let's beat him up," Rin snarled.

"That's not going to help. ...But I considered it," Haru bit his lip.

"What are you going to do?" Makoto asked.

Haru looked up at Makoto, and then at Rin. "I don't know. I... thought I'd give myself some time, and... I guess try again."

"He can't keep you from your siblings. I mean, not forever. It's not like he can pretend he didn't have your family first," Makoto sighed.

"We could find out where they go to school," Rin suggested.

"No, that would be stalking, that would be weird," Haru blinked sleepily at Rin. "Makoto's right, he can't hide them forever. It's just..." Haru put his hand over his head and sighed again. "...When my little brother or sister is getting married, I want to be able to say something at the ceremony. Something meaningful. I don't want... to just barely know them. I... I would be a good big brother."

"Yes, you would! You always were, to me, and to Ran and Ren," Makoto assured Haru, leaning down to kiss Haru's cheek.

"You were always a brat to me but even I know you'd be good for those kids. Better than some cheater with a secret family," Rin huffed, also leaning down to kiss Haru's cheek.

Haru looked from one and then the other. "Well. I just need time. I'll... I'll talk to him again. Maybe after mom's married. Maybe he'll be calmer then."

"It'll work out, Haru," Makoto squeezed his hand. "We'll make it work out, somehow."

Haru looked at Makoto pleadingly.

Rin kissed the corner of Haru's mouth. "You can make a speech at Kou's wedding. Someday, far, far away."

"It won't be that long," Haru told Rin. "Ai is the romantic type."

"Sh-shut up!" Rin got flustered.

Makoto laughed. "I really love you two. Thank you... thank you both for being here."

"Where else are we gonna be?" Rin winked at Makoto.

Makoto smirked, and Haru looked from Makoto to Rin. "We're going to have sex, right?"

"Yes, yes we are, Haru," Rin said patiently. "Do you want any foreplay, or should we just dive right in?" he teased.

"Let's take a shower. That's a nice big bathroom," Haru perked up.

"The bathroom turned him on," Rin sighed to Makoto.

"The bathroom turning him on turns you on, admit it," Makoto smirked.

"I will never admit that," Rin swore.

"It's ok, I already know," Haru nodded.

"You are both morons, and you spoil him," Rin complained.

"He spoils us both," Haru insisted, and then he pulled Rin down and kissed him.

"Eh, we kinda spoil him, too," Rin grinned, and kissed Haru again.

"And yet, I'm the only one not getting kissed," Makoto sighed.

Haru and Rin grinned at each other, and then they fixed that.