For Mercurie, during Yuletide 2010. I hope you enjoy this little fic! It's set in an alternate post-series universe where Rui, for once, does get the girl. Of course, not all is well.

Better to Ask Forgiveness
by Estirose
c 2010


"Yes?" Rui turned around in bed to his wife, Tsukushi. He marvelled at the fact that he'd been the one to win her finally, not Tsukasa, that for once he hadn't let go. No matter how much Tsukasa had begged him, he wasn't going to give up; Tsukasa had had his chance with Tsukushi and messed it up, and he'd steeled his heart and kept going after Tsukushi anyway. As he'd told Tsukushi once, he'd always let go and regretted it, and this time he wasn't going to give up on her.

"Do you regret not talking to Tsukasa?"

Ah, Tsukasa. Tsukasa who was not speaking to him because of Tsukushi, who had decided to snub both of them because of what he'd done to win her. Tsukasa who had thought he'd met his soulmate in Tsukushi, Tsukasa who had practically destroyed the cafeteria one time because Rui had kissed Tsukushi. He was sure that Tsukushi and Tsukasa would have done well with each other, loved each other in their own ways, but after what Tsukasa had pulled, forgetting Tsukushi for a year, he'd had to intervene.

"Sometimes," he allowed.

They'd been friends forever, it had seemed. Him, quiet and thoughtful; Tsukasa, loud and threatening. The two of them, and Akira and Soujirou, had been together as long as he could remember. Tsukasa had defended him when he'd needed defending, before he could defend himself. He had to admit, he was the kind of kid that others would have loved bullying, had he not been from such a rich and powerful family. But he'd learned to defend himself. To be a bit bolder, to not let go even when he should have. Especially not let go when he should have.

"You should talk to him again," she said.

He blinked, wondering how he was supposed to do that when Tsukasa had stopped talking to him, making it clear that he wasn't in any mood to talk to the man who had stolen his girl, and worse, married her. Tsukasa hadn't even been there for their wedding, much as he'd wished his friend had been, and Soujirou and Akira had only come reluctantly, because they'd been friends for so long. It had hurt, but he'd known that Tsukasa was passionate about certain things, and what he'd done... well, he'd known the consequences when he'd chosen to pursue Tsukushi. He wished that Tsukasa had never regained his memory after that accident, so that Tsukasa could be happy and never known what he'd lost... but he had.

"I'll try."

He felt a little guilty at lying to Tsukushi about it. Or maybe it wasn't a lie, because he would do what she asked. He would try to talk to Tsukasa for Tsukushi's sake, because he owed both of them that. He owed them for breaking them up - even if he'd had noble motives about the whole mess - and he owed them because he loved them both. Tsukasa, because they'd always been friends, and Tsukushi, because she didn't deserve all the pain she'd been through.

"You miss talking to him, don't you?" she asked.

That was true; he remembered Tsukasa's face when he had not given in to his begging, to let Tsukushi go. But he wouldn't lie to his friend, and he wouldn't give Tsukushi up. So Tsukasa had left, still desperate and fuming; the next few weeks not only was Tsukasa not talking to him, but he'd hovered over Tsukushi like a jealous boyfriend. Well, to some extent, he was a jealous boyfriend, so Rui didn't quite blame him; it just was that he was the better choice for Tsukushi. She needed someone to balance out her fire, and he had to admit, he needed someone to keep him going, sometimes. Better with him than with Tsukasa, fire with fire, he thought.

"Yes," he answered slowly.

Tsukasa had tried to beat him up, the first time long ago, when he'd dared fall in love with the girl that Tsukasa had his eye on. Strong Tsukushi, the weed, the girl that his parents would never approve of; neither would Rui's, or so he'd thought. But his parents were more flexible than Tsukasa's, or at least more uncaring, and a commoner looking to be a lawyer was something they could live with. He remembered his first conversation with his family when he announced he was dating Tsukushi, and the questions his parents had asked about her background and her plans. "Very well," his mother had said, and "As long as she finishes her schooling," his father had said. Of course, once they had met Tsukushi, they'd been a little more enthusiastic; like him, they'd seen that he'd needed her to balance him out.

"He can be stupid, sometimes," she said, her tone wry.

In some ways, he thought, she was still in love with Tsukasa, but they were the married ones now, and Tsukasa would never take another person's wife. Girlfriend, yes, it was war for a while because Tsukasa had refused to give up, once he regained his memories and decided that Rui was seducing Tsukushi away from him. He'd heard Tsukushi complaining because she was being flooded by material things - never a good way to win her heart, he'd noticed. That's why Rui had let her take him to commoner's restaurants, to commoner places, because it made her happy, and he wanted her, with everything that had happened to her, to be happy.

"He can, but...."

No matter how much Tsukasa wasn't talking to him, he still hoped that someday his friend would. Tsukasa's anger ran hot, like always, but eventually, he would calm down. He would realize that Rui had won, but it wasn't so bad, that Tsukasa would find someone that was his match but someone his mother would approve of. Tsukasa needed fire, just like Rui needed fire, but Rui had needed that fire more, needed Tsukushi more. He suspected that's why his parents had ended up approving of Tsukushi, because she had made him more of what his parents needed him to be. Of course, in a funny way, she'd done that for Tsukasa, too.

"I know." She reached across him, brushed hair out of his face. He smiled, conscious of its length.

They both needed Tsukushi, but only one of them could have her as a wife, and Rui had been lucky enough that she had chosen him. She could have chosen Tsukasa, as against it his mother was, because the two of them had come so far and been through so much together. He'd known that Tsukushi had gone through a lot to be with Tsukasa, and he sometimes wondered if he'd laid all of it to waste, because he'd gotten her to choose him instead of Tsukasa. That he'd laid Tsukasa's dreams to waste when he'd refused his plea. But there was nothing he could do about it now.

"I love you," he said.

He'd had enough regrets in his life; he'd strode forward and gotten what he'd wanted, and now he was paying the price for it. Even as he knew that Tsukasa would come around, he feared it would be a long time, and Tsukushi didn't deserve that. Not for choosing him over Tsukasa. Not for giving up when Tsukasa had lost his memory. Not for anything.

And as she murmured an "I love you" back, he gave a bittersweet smile, and held her close.

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