An excerpt from Knotting the Tie

Alex stared in bemusement at his phone, then switched to the BBC news site. All was explained when he saw the headline, US SUPREME COURT RULES GAY MARRIAGE IS LEGAL NATIONWIDE. The Americans had finally caught up with their neighbors to the north, and the Internet was celebrating. Or at least his little corner of it was. His Twitter feed was full of rainbow hearts, as were the blogs he followed.

Why did it have to be this Friday night of all nights that Robin had to work late? They didn’t always manage to get the same bus home, but Friday night was their night to meet up in the pub near the bus stop and have a pint, or pick up a takeaway before walking home together. It would have been lovely to read that news together.

Even so, Robin shouldn’t be too late home. Alex had been detailed to collect the takeaway when he got off the bus, but now he wanted to pick up something a bit special to celebrate on behalf of their American friends who could now get married.

A quick text to Robin could sort that out.

Seen the news?

The reply came a minute or two later. To quote George Takei—Oh myyy.

Shall I pick up some bubbly to toast Sylvie and Lisa?

Good idea. Will try to escape early.

That sorted, he settled back to catch up on his email while the bus trundled its way back to his suburb. But he couldn’t resist looking at the Internet at large. It was very, very rainbow-colored.

It was old hat in the UK now. Civil partnerships had been around for a decade, and even actual marriage had arrived a year ago. But lifetime commitment hadn’t happened for him during that decade, and there’d been a point, not long before the marriage equality act was signed into law, when he’d thought it never would.

Then Robin had walked first onto his bus, then into his office, and finally into his home. There’d been ups and downs along the way, but Robin had moved in with him and hadn’t moved out. Not even when the ostensible reason for moving in with Alex had left the city and left Robin in peace.

Over a year together now. And yet they’d never talked about making that lifetime commitment. Alex had been happy to let things drift; happy to give Robin however much time it took for him to believe that things were different now. To believe deep down where it mattered that his obsessive ex was getting the help he needed; that his boss had his back if Michael didn’t manage to stick to his therapy plan.

Maybe it was time to finally make that move. If he couldn’t propose to Robin tonight of all nights, would he ever?

* * * *

The bus had almost reached home when his phone chimed.

On bus now.

Robin was half an hour or so behind him, then. Just the right amount of time to do a little shopping, and then order a takeaway if Marks didn’t have any steak left. Takeaway wasn’t as romantic as a restaurant, but it was a lot less public, which meant a lot less pressure on Robin.

The supermarket did indeed have steak, along with oven chips, flat mushrooms, and tomatoes; just the thing for a luxurious but easy-to-cook meal for two. In the next aisle there was a nice sparkling wine to go with the steak.

He added a punnet of strawberries and a pot of clotted cream, and then headed for the reason he’d come in here first, rather than just pick up a takeaway.

Half a dozen roses from the rack of beautifully wrapped and presented bouquets for those who wanted to buy a gift for a friend or a loved one on the way home from work. Not too over the top. Just a traditional expression of love for a very traditional moment.

He put the roses in a bucket of water when he got home, out of sight in a kitchen cupboard where he could get them easily later. Then he laid the table, lit a candle, and set the food out ready to start cooking the moment Robin walked in the door.

Robin did so five minutes later. He looked at the table and raised an eyebrow. “We are celebrating, aren’t we?”

“Well, it’s as good an excuse as any for a romantic dinner.”

Robin set down his bag, came over to Alex, and kissed him. “I know. All those people who can get married now, and know that they can make it stick even if someone disapproves.” He smiled. “Did you call Sylvie and Lisa?”

“No. It’s still office hours in California, and if they’re not in the office they’ll be out celebrating somewhere.” They wouldn’t have to worry any more about Lisa’s visa being cancelled before she qualified for a Green Card. “But we can still toast them over dinner.” He reached up to loosen Robin’s tie. “Now, go and get out of that suit, while I put on dinner.”