mikkeneko (mikkeneko) wrote,

[TRC] Ill Luck part III - Family Portrait (3/5)

One thing I wanted, while writing a story about a character getting pregnant, was to avoid all the inevitable cliches about pregnancy that inevitably show up in fiction. You can always tell that a female character is pregnant if they start feeling nauseous in the mornings -- in fact, it's never anything else! And much is made of the emotional swings that come with the hormone rushes, and the strange food urgings are all a source of great hilarity. Unfortunately, since I ended up not actually covering much of Tomoyo's pregnancy, I didn't really get a chance to avert the stereotypes. Oh, well.

Title: Family Portrait
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Angst, silliness
Spoilers: EOS, no explicit reference to series events
Pairings: Kurogane/Fai, Yuui/Tomoyo.

They did eventually get their own room - actually a set of rooms, deep in the palace complex and not too far from the royal chambers. There was a bedroom, a larger sitting room connected to the main hallway, and a third "receiving room" Kurogane had never seen the point of; but at least the main room had a nice view of the western side of the palace grounds.

It started out as a nice relaxing evening - him reading aloud to Fai, Fai doing something ridiculous with ribbons - when the sliding door slammed back and a loud exuberant voice filled their private space. "Hey, slackers! Whatcha doing? I brought booze!"

"Did you ever consider knocking?" Kurogane growled, peeling his hand off his weapon and glaring at her. Souma was always a pain and cheerful about it, but she seemed to be in an extraordinarily good mood tonight - and, indeed, the promised bottle of sake was in her hand.

"I've got news!" she cried out as she swept inside, kicking one of the cushions aside. Following her, somewhat surprisingly, was a sheepish-looking Yuui. "Well, actually I don't, it's this guy's news. But I wanted to be here for the announcement!"

"What announcement?" Fai said, looking at his twin in surprise.

Yuui opened his mouth, then closed it with an 'ow' when Souma jabbed him in the ribs. "Drinks first," she said. "He's got the cups. Come on, clear some space at your table, don't you have any manners?"

"These are our rooms," Kurogane objected, although he was already on his feet and pushing things off the table. It was all Fai's stuff anyway; if he didn't want it on the floor, he should pick up after himself in the first place.

"Okay, a round for everyone, and then the news," Souma said as they all sat around the table - foursquare, except that as always, Yuui and Fai sat the same side next to each other; it was something they hardly even seemed to think about.

Souma was positively bubbling over with glee, and so Kurogane was already wary; he watched her drink first, just to make sure it wasn't drugged. She quickly swigged her own cup dry, then put it down and looked right at him as she grinned. "Okay, so it's official - Princess Tomoyo is pregnant!"

Kurogane paused for a moment, his mouth full of sake; then he quite deliberately swallowed it, set the cup down, and coughed once. Souma looked vastly disappointed.

"Nice try," he snarled at her.

"Aw, come on," she said. "I was hoping for you to spit it across the room again."

Fai let out a little squeal of joy and wrapped his arms around Yuui's; his twin's face lit up with a gentle smile as he hugged back. "It's true," he said. "The doctor confirmed it - she's about two months along."

"It looks like this one's going to stick around!" Souma said delightedly. "You're going to be an uncle! Hell, I'm going to be an aunt!"

"Hmph," Kurogane said, then turned to Yuui. "Congratulations," he said. "And I'll say it again when I see Tomoyo."

"She's with Kendappa right now," Yuui said. "I believe they're discussing the best time to make the announcement at court."

"Besides," Souma said, "it wouldn't be fair to drink when she couldn't."

"She doesn't drink anyway!" Kurogane said.

"I'm so happy for you!" Fai exclaimed. "I know you guys have been trying for a while -"

"Which is why it wasn't all THAT much of a surprise," Kurogane added to Souma, who smirked. "I do know how things work, you know."

" - but when I saw her yesterday, she looked about the same," Fai finished. "She hasn't put on a lot of weight yet, has she?"

"It's still early," Yuui reminded him. "It'll be a few more months before the - the baby really starts to show." He blushed at his own stutter, but he couldn't seem to keep the brilliant smile off his face as he said it.

"You're going to have to learn to duck when she throws things at you," Fai teased him. "And you'll have to get up at all hours of the night to get all sorts of strange foods for her when she wants them!"

Everyone looked at him. "Where are you getting that idea?" Souma asked him with some amusement.

"Well, isn't that what pregnant ladies do?" Fai defended himself. "There's always the mood swings, and the food cravings, and she'll be sick in the morning all the time too!"

"How would you know?" Kurogane demanded. "When have you ever been around a pregnant woman before?"

"I have!" Fai protested. "-Probably."

"Probably?" Yuui parroted back at him with a raised eyebrow.

"Well, we've visited a lot of worlds and met a lot of people, including women," Fai said, his face flushing slightly. "Statistically, I'm sure at least some of them were pregnant!"

Kurogane snorted and shook his head, reaching across the table to pour himself another drink. Souma looked torn between amusement and annoyance. "That doesn't count," she protested laughingly. "That hardly means you can say anything about how all women act when pregnant. Every woman reacts a little differently, you know."

"Oh! I know! The innkeeper in that one world, the one with the flower garlands," Fai said triumphantly. "She was always yelling at someone for no reason, or bursting into tears over the slightest thing. She was pregnant!"

"No she wasn't," Kurogane said, empting the last of the bottle into his cup - one bottle didn't really go very far among four people. "She was just fat."

"Yes she was!" Fai shot back. "She had those special dresses and everything."

"Trust me, she wasn't pregnant."

"How can you be sure?" Fai demanded.

"Because she was a he," Kurogane said, shooting his lover a look of amusement. "Seriously, how did you not pick up on this? That entire bar was full of men dressed as women."

Souma burst into laughter at Fai's expression. "And you didn't even notice?" she whooped out. "Fai, you really suck at being gay!"

Fai joined her in laughter, but Kurogane couldn't help but notice Yuui shift uncomfortably. Although Yuui had never expressed any reservations about Fai's choice in lovers - at least not around Kurogane, and not around Fai either if he had any sense - Kurogane had always gotten the impression that he wasn't completely comfortable with the idea of Fai's sexuality.

Either Fai had noticed his twin's change in expression, or he had just picked it up through that bizarre near-telepathic communication they had, because his face shifted to an expression of mock disdain. "I'll have you know I'm not gay," he said, "I'm an opportunistic bisexual~!"

He leered comically over the table at Souma, who just laughed harder. "Sorry to say it, big boy, but I'm not," she chortled. "I'm more than happy with what I've got!"

"Oh, you're just jealous," Fai pouted. "You know my boyfriend could beat up your girlfriend any day!"

"Ooh, is that a challenge?" Souma said with a wicked grin. "Should I go and tell Kendappa that Kurogane here is just looking for an opportunity to beat up on Her Divine Majesty?"

"Hey, leave me out of this!" Kurogane exclaimed. This conversation was getting way too uncomfortable, and he decided abruptly that he was not nearly drunk enough for it. "Souma, what the hell were you thinking, bringing only one bottle?"

"It's not my fault you all drink like fish," Souma protested. "Anyway, we could send someone for more."

"I've got a better idea. Why don't we all go down to the canteen?" Yuui said. "I'm sure the news has spread to the rest of the palace warriors already, so we can all celebrate with them."

"Sounds great, as long as they understand that the proud father -" Souma aimed a slap on Yuui's back that sent him staggering off balance as he stood up from the table " - and his party of course - get first dibs on all the booze!"

"Yay, it's a party!" Fai cheered, as they all filed out the door. "Sake, sake!"

Kurogane sighed and rubbed his head, but got up to follow. He remembered the last time Fai had gotten drunk at a party, and at least one person there would need to be sensible.

"So," Kendappa said quietly, "you're certain, then?"

Tomoyo shrugged a little, and raised one hand to rub at her eyes. The light in Kendappa's private receiving chamber was low, the walls cloaked in shadow. Elsewhere in the palace she could hear the muffled sound of cheers, but up here, away from everyone, it was quiet.

"Certain?" she said with a certain amount of bitterness. "How can I be certain? I no longer have my powers as a dreamseer, you know; I can no longer be certain of any future."

Kendappa sighed. "But the auguries are clear," she said. It was not so much a question as a statement.

"As clear as they ever are," Tomoyo whispered. Her eyes were tired, and had begun to sting a bit. She got tired so easily the past few weeks, although there was a perfectly acceptable biological reason for that now. "It's not absolutely decided… but it's a very strong chance."

"Have you told Yuui?" Kendappa said, her voice unusually gentle. "He is the father, after all."

Tomoyo shook her head. "It would only upset him," she said. "There's no need for him to know. He would worry and be afraid."

"So instead you're going to worry and be afraid all by yourself?" Kendappa said sharply. "This is his fault in the first place -"

"Half," Tomoyo corrected her. "And this is not a burden that would be diminished by being shared."

"-half his fault in the first place!" Kendappa glared. "You should at least have someone you can talk to!"

"I do," Tomoyo said calmly. "I have you."

Kendappa sat back with an exasperated sigh. It wasn't often that gentle Tomoyo showed the stubborn streak that both sisters shared, but when she did, it was like running into a stone wall. "All right," she said. "I will make certain that the best doctors in the realm are on hand when the time comes. If you gain any more glimpses of the future, be certain to tell me immediately. I want your promise that you will!"

"I will," Tomoyo said, and she blinked hard, her purple eyes glittering. "Kendappa, I - I don't know what I should do if - "

Unseen by any outsiders, the Empress crossed the room in two strides and was at her sister's side, wrapped her arms around Tomoyo's slender shoulders and embracing her sister as she cried silently.

"It'll be all right," she murmured. "We'll be all right."

In the floors below, the celebration continued.

He wasn't drunk. It took a truly prodigious amount of alcohol to get him to any stage past 'buzzed,' and considering that he'd been competing all night with his big lunk of a partner - who could absorb even more booze than he could without noticeable wobble - well, Shirasagi's sake just wasn't strong enough to carry both of them over the threshold. So they weren't drunk. Just a little… happy.

Sure, he was singing under his breath as they both staggered back from the canteen to their rooms, despite Kurogane's periodic growls to shut up. But so what? He did that even when he was sober, just because it pissed Kurogane off and made Yuui laugh. The only difference was that right now he couldn't really be bothered to put words to the tune, and surely Kurogane would consider that an improvement?

Souma and Yuui had both gone back to their own lovers, and it was quality time now for Kurogane and Fai. They fell over the doorway into their rooms - literally fell, in Kurogane's case, since the lamps weren't lit and someone had dumped a bunch of stuff from the table onto the floor earlier. Kurogane hissed and swore, Fai laughed at him, and with much fumbling and groping they managed to make their way to the bedroom where their futon was laid out.

In the moonlight spilling in through the window they undressed for bed with a good deal of slow, languorous touching, and the occasional press of mouth on skin. Truth be told neither of them were immediately interested in sex; they weren't drunk but they were mellow, dizzy and tired and only in the mood to curl up together and sleep.

Fai settled into the circle of Kurogane's arms with a happy sigh, reveling in the contrast between the cool moon-splashed air and the heat of his lover's skin. But now that he was still and quiet, all the thoughts that had been sloshing around in his head for the last few hours finally got a chance to settle and drain; and what was left by the falling tide were some questions he couldn't put off asking any longer. "Ne, Kuro-chan," he said, voice low in the darkness.

"Hmm," Kurogane grunted; halfway to sleep, Fai judged him.

Fai rolled over and stared at the ceiling. "Did you ever want kids of your own?"

There was a long pause, just long enough for Fai to wonder if Kurogane had gone to sleep. But then the bigger man rolled up on his side, his body a dark bulky cliff in the shadows, and he felt the heat of Kurogane's eyes on him. "What brought this on?" he rumbled.

"What do you think?" Fai pulled a face. "With Tomoyo… you know, it just sort of brought it home that neither you nor I will ever be having kids of our own. I just… it was not something I ever thought about for myself, but… you?"

"Hn," Kurogane said, and shifted again as he turned away. The pale moonlight glinted over the bare skin of his chest, flashed dimly on the metal planes of his arm, and Fai was left breathless by the sudden feeling of how much he loved this man.

"Yeah, sometimes," Kurogane's reply came low out of the darkness, and Fai's breath caught, his heart thumping painfully in his chest.

He didn't say anything, but Kurogane was pressed so close to him, he couldn't have missed the sudden sharp intake of breath. "Don't get me wrong, idiot," Kurogane chastised him. "I don't want anyone else but you. I never have. I'm not going to leave you, not now or ever, not for any reason."

Fai managed a little smile, but Kurogane couldn't see it in the darkness. "I know," he whispered.

"I'm just telling you the truth," Kurogane continued. "I always expected that I would have kids of my own - someday. It was a part of growing up as the heir of Suwa, like my father before me, like his father before him. Now Suwa is gone, and - I'm the only one of my family left, and… it's hard to think, sometimes, that when I'm gone there will be nothing left of my family in this world, nothing left of Suwa at all."

Fai stared up at the ceiling, afraid to blink, his eyes stinging with sudden tears. "I'm sorry," he whispered. No matter how much he loved Kurogane, that was something he could never ever give him; a family, a future.

"Don't be," Kurogane said, and the 'idiot' was plain in his voice. He leaned down, and Fai felt a soft warmth on the side of his neck as Kurogane kissed slowly down his collarbone.

"That all belongs to another life," Kurogane said lowly, "one that was burnt up years ago. It's not your fault. I'm happy with the life I have now - I wouldn't want to wish it away for anything else.

"Besides," he added after a few moments. "I'd never be half the parent my father was, so it's probably just as well either way."

Fai smiled for real, then, tears running from the corners of his eyes, happiness and sorrow and love and regret almost crushing his chest. "That's not true," he said teasingly. "Kuro would have made an awesome daddy. You'd be teaching the kid how to slay bugs and kill mice with a glare before he could walk."

Kurogane snorted, and there was a small earthquake as he thumped back onto the futon. "As if," he said.

The conversation stilled then, and they just lay there, snuggled in a companionable silence. "Besides," Kurogane said after a while, his voice slower and drowsy with sleep. "Your brother's your twin, you know; so his kid is almost going to be like your kid too."

Fai blinked, suddenly wide awake and stunned with the force of the revelation. "Oh, that's a terrifying thought," he said in a strangled voice. It was true what he'd said to Kurogane, that he'd never considered children of his own; for too long he'd never dreamed to have a future, for too long he considered himself unworthy of having a life, let alone bringing new life into the world.

"It'll be fine," Kurogane said, amusement thick in his tone. " 'S half Tomoyo's, too. She'll even it out."

"You know," Fai said after some thought, "There are some magical spells - I'd have to research and refine them, but it is theoretically possible for the caster to turn themselves into a woman for long periods at a time. If you wanted, we could -"

"What?" Kurogane roused out of near-slumber, horror in his voice.

" - or if you don't like that idea, it's a bit much I agree, just a partial transformation might be -"

"Gods, no!" Kurogane slammed his pillow down on Fai's face, smothering all further speculation. "Go to sleep already!"

~to be continued...

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