(I apologize for my ID4 angst so I wrote a happy to make up for it.)
‘Marry me’ became a running joke in their relationship. Not in a humorless way, or with any bitterness, but with honest affection, and true intention. But a running joke anyway, called as such because it was an impossible request.
But the first time hadn’t been a joke.
It was winter, cold and snowing, when Brackish and Milton bundled themselves up in hats and scarves and escaped Area 51 with the excuse of checking out a new piece of science equipment in a nearby city. They had orders to return in 3 days, to which they readily agreed. Because they both knew the science would take only two.
So they would have time together
A whole day.
A day of walking in parks, breathing in the fresh air, and just talking. Holding hands when they were sure they were alone, gentle kisses when they were really secluded.
And then they found themselves so off the beaten path, they could almost pretend they were the only people in the entire world.
It only took a moment; Milton stepped ahead to look out over the lake from their high vantage point atop a hill, and when he turned back, Brackish was down on one knee.
“Marry me?” Brackish’ cheeks were flushed from the cold, but the smile on his face was radiant as he offered up the little box containing a ring Milton had never seen before.
It was an actual engagement ring, not a piece of equipment or something Brackish had made. Milton wondered where on earth he had gotten it.
(He would later find out it had taken a very clever series of couriers and a number of months to get the small package to Dr. Okun without suspicion.)
“Brack– honey,” he started, voice gentle, but he was smiling helplessly, “you know we cant.” Not legally. Not Yet.
“I don’t care,” Brackish said earnestly, “I just…” He bit his lip, and Milton could see how carefully he was choosing his words. It was so unlike his lover, Milton couldn’t hep the swell of emotion and love in his chest.
“If we could,” Brackish continued slowly, “would you marry me?”
Milton searched his partner’s face thoroughly, checking for any hint of a joke, or deception, but deep down knowing he would find none.
After all these years, first colleagues, then lovers, he knew he trusted this man not to hurt him, to not deceive him. He knew they loved each other unconditionally.
That was answer enough.
“Of course I would.” Milton was surprised when his voice cracked with emotion, and his eyes burned as he fought back tears of happiness. Brackish put the plain silver band on his finger, and Milton knew he would never be happier than he was right in that moment.
They stayed on that hilltop for hours, eventually watching the sun set tucked up close to each other. Brackish wouldn’t let go of Milton’s hand, and it was all Milton could do to stop pressing featherlight kisses to Brackish’s cheek long enough for them to converse.
Eventually they retired to their hotel, and it was all to easy for them to pretend they really were newly weds spending their first married night together.
Milton couldn’t wear the ring at work, it would bring up too many questions, so he kept it on a necklace under his shirt. Sometimes he would wear it when he and Brackish got some time alone, and he thought there really was no better feeling than the sensation of Brackish holding his hand and stroking his fingertips over the band.
Sometimes Brackish would say the words in a fit of exuberant emotion, often at the culmination of their combined scientific efforts.
“Dr. Isaacs, you fantastic, wonderful man, marry me!” It was the type of comment that could be said in the labs, something written off by others as just Dr. Okun’s eccentricity. As long as Dr. Isaacs didn’t respond.
Sometimes Brackish said it to make Milton laugh, up close right in his ear , hands sliding up under his shirt in the middle of lab where anyone could walk in. Knowing full well Milton would bat him away with barked laugh and tell him to get back to something useful.
And sometimes, when they were alone and holding each other close, fingers entwined and eyelids heavy, Brackish said it just so he could hear Milton say ‘yes’.
And he did.