mikkeneko (mikkeneko) wrote,
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[TRC] Ill Luck part III - Family Portrait (4/5)

BABIES! Actually, this part of the process usually kinda sucks. For anyone who doesn't feel like sorting through the prose, that's forty hours, which from reports I hear is not all that unusual.

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

Author's notes: Li Yelan is a cameo from the Card Captor Sakura universe; in that universe she is Li Syaoran's mother, a very powerful mage and all-around very intimidating lady.


The birth of his next sovereign, Kurogane reminded himself, ought to be a good thing, a joyous occasion. So should the birth of his best friend's child, and the child of his lover's brother - essentially his own nephew. And indeed, for the first few hours it had seemed so. For the first day, even. Kurogane had cheered and pounded on tables and toasted the new heir's health with all the rest of the palace ninja.

But the sun was setting on the second full day of Princess Tomoyo's labor, and all the celebration of the palace had died down some time before, to be replaced by an anticipatory tension. Waiting, somewhere between riotous joy and heartstopping dread, for it to be over.

It would have been better if he could do something. Enemies to fight, walls to knock down, a hundred field latrines to dig, anything at all. Unfortunately, there wasn't. He'd twigged very early on that the servingwomen's water-boiling and linen-washing assignments were only busywork meant to keep him out of the way, not actually contributing to the birthing process at all, and left them in disgust. Since no enemy armies were consenting to attack Nihon right now, that left only patrolling the walls to work off his energy; which would have been fine if every other ninja in Shirasagi didn't have the same idea. He was tired of tripping over other people in every conceivable approach to Tomoyo's wing of the palace.

At last the servants - acting with unaccustomed audacity, he thought, considering his reputation - had pushed him into this tiny waiting chamber and told him that he could either stay here and wait for news, or go to some other part of the castle entirely. And so he waited. And paced. And did katas, at least until he tore a hole in the shoji screen. And waited some more.

"Why can't I be in there?" he demanded to the air, not really expecting an answer any more than the last five times he'd asked. "I could stay out of the way, and then at least I'd know what was going on."

His listeners - currently an audience of one - were unimpressed. "They're not letting letting any men near the birthing chamber, Kurogane-san," Yuui replied, and even after all this time hearing that name in that voice gave Kurogane a little twinge. Yuui gave a little half-smile, half-grimace. "If they aren't letting me in, they certainly aren't going to let you in."

"They'd better let me in, I have a sword," Kurogane said half-heartedly, and Yuui snorted.

"With Souma in there? Not likely," he said. "This is all up to Tomoyo now. Ranting and complaining about it isn't going to make it happen any faster, so just calm down."

With great difficulty, Kurogane refrained from his automatic, angry retort. It was absurd how Yuui could appear so calm, when Kurogane knew he must be burning up inside with worry and anticipation.

Yuui leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. There were dark circles of sleeplessness under his eyes, and Kurogane didn't blame him; Fai was actually asleep, curled up against Yuui's side with his cheek puffed out against Yuui's leg. The debris of cups, dishes and paper wrappers were scattered around the room, although none of them had had much appetite.

Tomoyo had gone into labor just before midnight, two days ago now; all throughout the night it had continued, intensifying throughout the next morning and evening. By then all three of the men were wondering what was taking so long, but the smiling womenservants assured them that this was normal for a first-time mother. Well, another night had gone and another day was almost gone; surely this wasn't normal! But it had become increasingly clear that nobody had the time or the patience to spare for antsy menfolk underfoot right now. This was women's business, and Yuui was right, there was absolutely nothing he could do to make it go faster.

"This can't be normal," he said aloud. "Something must be wrong. Why won't they tell us anything?"

Yuui frowned, his brows pinching in above his still-closed eyes, and Kurogane briefly regretted voicing his feelings.

"S'alright," Fai muttered without changing his position. His hand groped across the floor for a moment before swinging up to pat Yuui's knee reassuringly. "Scary doctor lady will take care of her."

That startled a snort of laughter out of Kurogane; it was an apt description of Li Yelan. Li-sensei had arrived at the crack of dawn after Tomoyo's labor had started, a tall imposing woman with severely beautiful features in a white hanfu tied with a royal blue sash. She'd walked with such imposing authority that even Kurogane felt the urge to bow humbly in her presence, and had headed right for the birthing chamber and not emerged since. One of the servants had explained that she was a famous physician of women and birthing, and that Amaterasu had arranged for her stay in the capital as Tomoyo's time drew near.

"Even if I were there, I wouldn't be able to do much," Yuui admitted heavily. "I never could get the hang of healing magic."

"She'll be fine," Fai repeated in a slightly clearer voice. He lifted his head from his sleeping position, marked with red lines from the pressure against the fabric; his blue eyes were reddened, but his expression was calm and determined. "Everyone is still calm, and they wouldn't be if something were really wrong. No matter how long it's taking, nobody's panicking. Well, except for Kuro-daddy, that is," he said, turning to address his lover with a cheeky grin. "You'd almost think it was HIS baby being born!"

Kurogane was about to reply, when a sudden uptick in the voices coming faintly through the corridors and walls caught his attention. He came bolt upright, staring at the door as though he could drill through it to see what's going on.

"What is it?"

"Not sure," Kurogane grunted. He didn't hear a baby's cry, and he was fairly sure he would have heard that - it was pretty distinctive. But if not that, then what?

He made up his mind. "I'm going out there," he announced, and strode towards the door.

"Kuro-sama," Fai called from behind him, and Yuui said "Kurogane, you can't just-"

He slid the door open with more force than strictly necessary, only to find himself suddenly face-to-face with a startled-looking servant.

"Lord Kurogane!" she gasped, taking a quick step back. "I - pardon me, I was just coming to get Flowright-sama…"

"What's happening?" he demanded. "Is something wrong?"

"Wrong? No, of course not," she said, shaking her head. "But he should come soon. It's almost time."

"It's been 'almost time' for the last ten hours!" Kurogane objected, although he felt a surge of hopeful anticipation all the same. "If he's going, I'm going."

The servant looked like she might argue, especially when Fai appeared in the doorway clinging to his brother so tightly that they might have been one two-headed beast, and gave her a bright smile - but she thought better of it. "Certainly, my lords. Please come along."

They were led through the hallways towards the birthing chamber, and all three of them heard the piercing baby's cry. Kurogane's heart lifted in his chest, but it didn't fully dispel the nervousness; the baby was all right, but what about Tomoyo?

The woman pulled them to a halt just outside a closed door. Kurogane could just pick up hints of the smell from the room beyond; the bitter bite of medicines, the reek of sweat from too many bodies in a hot, enclosed space, and the very faint tang of blood. However, the servant seemed unconcerned as she slid the door open a tiny crack, leaned in, and spoke softly to someone within.

"Wait a moment, please," she told them, and Kurogane resisted the urge to bite her head off. What else had they been DOING for the last two days?

Before he lost the fraying grasp on his temper, however, another maid appeared at the door. This one was disheveled but beaming, and she carried in her arms a cloth-swaddled bundle. "Fluorite-sama! Say hello to your firstborn," she chirped, entirely too cheery for how tired she looked. "It's a girl!"

Yuui looked completely stunned, and Fai had to take hold of his wrists and guide his arms into position for the smiling maid to place the infant in his grasp. His arms automatically tightened as they took the weight, and Yuui gasped as he looked down into the face of the infant child. "It's a girl?" he whispered.

"A girl," Kurogane echoed, the only outward sign of his wild inward elation. Yuui and Fai might not understand; they were foreigners, after all, and as much as they loved and respected Tomoyo and Kendappa, they hadn't been born here. They couldn't understand - as Kurogane understood - what an incredible blessing it was, the birth of the baby girl who would someday be the next Amaterasu. The living incarnation of the Sun Goddess, the very heart of the realm.

Yuui gazed in wonder at his daughter's face, his eyes roaming over her features. "Her eyes are brown," he breathed, and a certain tension went out of him as he locked gazes with Fai.

Fai nodded solemnly. "Probably just as well," he murmured.

Yuui inhaled deeply, tearing his eyes away from the infant's face. "She's beautiful," he said. "Just like her mother. But - Tomoyo? What about the Princess? Is she all right? Can I see her?"

"She's fine," the servant reassured him firmly. "No, you can't see her yet - they're not quite done in there. But she'll be just fine after she's rested a bit. Li-Sensei is a miracle worker. The worst is over now."

Yuui blinked rapidly, his eyes filling with tears, and he leaned towards his twin as Fai reached out to hug him fiercely.

"Hey," Kurogane objected, watching the progress of the bundle with hawk eyes. "If you're going to do that, let me hold her."

The maidservant stared dubiously as Yuui laughed shakily and handed her over. "Excuse me, my lord, but do you know anything about babies?" she said suspiciously.

"Course I do," Kurogane said, taking the bundle like a load of the most exquisitely fragile porcelain. "Hold up the head like this, right?"

Kurogane shifted the baby in his arms - she was so tiny, she almost fit onto the palms of his hands. He held his breath despite himself as he bent his head to look at her. She was so small, her eyes and nose and chin and wispy black hair over the crown of her head, with tiny little pink hands clenched into fists. "Hard to believe that Souma or Kendappa used to look like this."

Yuui laughed. "You did too, you know! All babies pretty much look the same at this age."

"Don't scowl like that, Kuro-baby, you'll traumatize her," Fai chided.

"She'd better get used to it," Kurogane grunted. "I'm her bodyguard, she'll be seeing a lot of me."

"You are?" Yuui said doubtfully. "Who decided that?"

"Who else would it be, dumbass?" Kurogane demanded. "I'm the best they've got."

"Kuro-mouth! Don't swear in front of the baby," Fai admonished. "There will be plenty of time to decide that later."

The two of them had their arms wrapped around each other, Fai laughing and Yuui smiling, his eyes sparkling. Kurogane was so engrossed in the tiny princess in his arms, already evolving elaborate forms of revenge to warn off any enemies who might try to harm her, that he almost didn't notice when the maidservant disappeared and came back to the door.

She looked at the three of them, Fai and Yuui clinging to each other, Kurogane holding the baby, and then sighed in exasperation. "Pardon me, Lord Flowright," she said. "Don't you want to hold your other daughter?"

The laughter and banter halted abruptly as all three of them turned towards her. "Other daughter?" Yuui repeated blankly.

"Yes, your secondborn," the maid smiled as she jiggled the blanket-wrapped bundle. "Also a girl, my lord! It's a great blessing - twin princesses for Nihon to celebrate today!"

Fai made a funny little sound, and let go of his brother to sit down abruptly on the floor. Yuui swayed without his support, his face gone a greenish-white color as the meaning sank in. "That can't be," he croaked.

"I assure you it most certainly is!" the maid replied tartly. She folded back the corner of the blanket and held the second baby a little higher, revealing a second tiny face - identical to the first in all ways except one. "See, my lord? She even has your eyes."

Yuui didn't respond, except to slowly sink to the floor beside his brother. Without looking their hands sought each other, and the maid looked increasingly confused as both of them sat in silence. "My lords?" she said hesitantly.

"Give her here," Kurogane said abruptly. "Then go back inside and see if Tomoyo needs anything. I'll take care of them."

Which set of twins he was referring to, even he wasn't sure; but whichever it was, he meant to take care of them.


Kendappa sank back on the duvet in her private chamber with a tired sigh, closing her eyes as her personal maid went busily about the task of undressing her hair for bed. It had been a very long couple of days, even if she wasn't the one who had just given birth to twins. Something alerted her senses, however, and she jerked her head up - to the displeased exclamation of her servant - as someone crossed the border into her private realm without asking permission first.

Anger turned to a kind of disgusted resignation, though, when she saw her visitor's blond hair. Kurogane's pet wizard would have no reason to visit her in the middle of the night, so she knew which one this was. "Oh, it's you," Kendappa said. "I suppose I should have expected it."

"You don't sound happy to see me," Yuui said.

"Yes, well." Kendappa turned back to the mirror and grimaced, as the servant expertly pulled the hairpins loose from her hair and brushed it out. "I did tell my guards to keep everybody out. I'm tired and I intended to get some real sleep for the first time in three days."

"I insisted," Yuui said. "This isn't state business, after all. It's family."

Something in his voice made Kendappa turn and look at him closer. "Have you been drinking?" she asked suspiciously.

"Oh, yes," he said. "With the safe delivery of the new heirs, the whole castle is practically swimming in alcohol right now. I could hardly have escaped the toasts if I tried. But if you're asking, am I drunk, then I'd remind you just how much alcohol it takes to put me out of commission."

He was smiling slightly, but there was a look in his blue eyes that reminded her that when he chose to be - which was rare, since he usually tried to hard to portray that inoffensive aura of harmlessness - Yuui Flowright was one of the more dangerous people in her country.

So was she, of course. With a touch, she stopped the brush moving through her hair, and signaled the maid to withdraw. Once it was just the two of them alone in her chambers, she turned to her sister's consort. "All right, Yuui," she said. "What's this about?"

"You knew," Yuui said in a low, dangerous voice. "That she was carrying twins. And you didn't tell me. She didn't tell me."

"What makes you think I knew?" Kendappa tried for guile. "In case you had forgotten, my sister relinquished her dreamseer powers. She can no longer see the future accurately."

"Don't play dumb with me," Yuui said, and Kendappa hastily revised her estimate of just how angry he was. "Dreamseer or no, she's still your country's most powerful oracle. There was no way she could not have known. And you hid it from me - both of you!"

Kendappa turned away from him with a little shrug. She didn't feel like pushing an obviously failed strategy. "Yes, Yuui, you are correct. My sister knew that she was bearing twins; she told me, but no one else. It was her wish that it be kept a secret, and so I kept it. The only other ones who knew were the doctor, Li Yelan, and Tomoyo's personal maid."

"And what about me? Don't you think I had a right to know?" Yuui demanded angrily. "I'm her lover - the father of those children!"

"Frankly?" Kendappa stood up, in order to look Yuui square in the eye. She was one of the few women in Nihon - one of the few people in Nihon at all - who almost matched it in height. "No. You didn't. Bearing and childbirth in Nihon has always been the province of the women, and men really don't have any place in it until the child is old enough to start her education. It's been that way in our country for hundreds of years. I respected my sister'sright to privacy a hell of a lot more than I respect your right to know."

For a moment they locked gazes, the tension palpable in the air; Yuui broke it first, turning away. "But why?" he asked, and the anger was wavering, giving way to the anguish that had driven it. "Why did she hide it from me? Why didn't she trust me? She had to know… how painful this was going to be for me. Why did she choose to spring such a shock at the last hour?"

Kendappa sighed, and sat back down on the cushion. "Are you sure you want to know?" she asked him. "I can tell you now, since the moment of danger is passed, but you're not going to like it."

Yuui looked at her warily, then slowly seated himself on the mat across from her. "Not going to like what?" he asked.

"You're right when you said that Tomoyo is still the country's premier oracle," Kendappa said. "She can still determine the future, but it's not set, not certain. She knew from very early on that her children would be twins; but she foresaw something else, as well. Every augury she cast returned portents of danger, of death; she was getting very strong indications that one of the twins would not live."

"What?" Yuui's voice echoed in shock, and it was probably a good thing that he was sitting down, or he might have collapsed. The blood drained out of his cheeks, leaving the only color in his face the shining blue of his eyes.

Kendappa nodded grimly. "We did all we could to avert it," she said. "I won't bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say that finding Li Yelan-sensei was one of the most important factors in changing that future. The most dangerous moment was during childbirth, but it has past; both of the babies and Tomoyo live and are healthy, so the worst of the portents have been dispelled.

"But Tomoyo did not want to tell you that she was expecting twin children, if one of the children was doomed to die without even being born. She knew that it would only break your heart, and she wished to spare you the pain."

"But - when was she going to tell me?" Yuui stared at Kendappa beseechingly. "Once the child had been born, it was inevitable that I'd find out anyway!"

"Not necessarily," Kendappa said, giving Yuui a stern glance. "I told you that pregnancy and childbirth has always been the business of the women only in this country, and I meant it. So many pregnancies never come to term, so many babies unexpectedly die before their first birthday… and an infant's death, like its birth, has always been the responsibility of the mother. If one of the twins had indeed succumbed during childbirth today, then the midwives would have disposed of the poor babe quietly and without fuss. Tomoyo would have presented you with a living daughter, and you would never have needed to know."

Yuui cursed - loudly and fluently, in a language Kendappa didn't know, but there was no mistaking the tone. "Both of you!" he said savagely, reverting to Nihongo. "Lording it up over others, mistresses of life and death! I am not a child to be controlled and led around by the hand, or sheltered from unpleasant truths! How dare you take that on yourselves?"

"And I'll remind you again, it was Tomoyo's decision!" Kendappa snapped, glaring angrily in return. She had never seen the normally placid foreigner in such a temper before; perhaps her sister had, but somehow she doubted it. "If you're really so determined to be your own man, tell me - why are you talking to me right now, and not to her?"

Yuui closed his eyes and turned away; he almost seemed to deflate as the anger ran out of him. "How could I?" he said in a near-whisper. "After she almost… All these months, she was in pain and afraid, and she couldn't trust me enough to tell me. Why? Why couldn't she tell me?"

"Because she knew you would have blamed yourself," Kendappa replied. "And she knew there was nothing you could have done to change things, no more than we could do together. She wished to spare you pain, Yuui Flowright, because she loves you; and you are a very lucky man."

He drew in a breath and crossed his arms over his chest; as though, with the heat of his anger no longer warming him, he was cold. "Far luckier than I deserve," he said, with a trace of self-deprecating humor. "Kendappa… you don't understand, we could have lost her. Bad enough in the past few months, when she was so big, and half the palace scolded me for being such a 'giant-boned foreigner!' That she was carrying twins… my twins, and my curse of ill luck…"

"Of all the gods in their little shrines!" Kendappa rolled her eyes heavenwards in exasperation. "This is exactly why she didn't tell you, you know, so that we wouldn't have to put up with this maudlin self-blaming for nine months. It's done, it's over with, it turned out fine. You're the father of two fine and healthy daughters, and nobody's dead, and nobody's cursed, so just get the hell over yourself already."

"Aren't they?" Yuui asked quietly, and Kendappa blinked to try to connect the statement. "What?" she said.

"Aren't they cursed," he said, in a flat, remote voice that belied the fear shining in his eyes. "One of the girls - the younger one - she has our blue eyes, Kendappa. She's just a baby, but we can already feel the magic sleeping within her. What if it's all happening over again? What if our curse - our misfortune - repeats itself all over again in the next generation? I didn't want this!"

"You don't usually get to pick what you want, when it comes to babies," Kendappa said acidly. "Look, I'm not a wizard or a priestess. If you want to know about curses, talk to Tomoyo, or to that time-space witch. All I know is that when the next generation comes, we'll have our next empress - yes, and our next Tsukuyomi, too, if you're right. Whatever comes of it, we'll deal with it; but for now, we've got brand-new babies to celebrate."

"But -" Yuui started, and Kendappa cut him off.

"It's late," she said, "we've all had an exhausting few days, and I'm going to bed. I suggest you go see Tomoyo and your new daughters, but either way, if you're not out of my room in five minutes I'm calling Souma to kick you out."

"You are a very cranky lady when you're short on sleep," Yuui observed, but a small smile played around his lips as he turned towards the door.

"Yuui," Kendappa called as he stepped out into the corridor; he stopped, looking back inquiringly.

"Tomoyo has had worry and pain enough to deal with in the last few months," she said in an unusually serious tone. "Don't make her deal with your own worries on top of her own. And if you don't want her to treat you like a child, then try acting like more of a man."

Yuui's smile faded, and he gave her a chilly bow before he turned and left.


Tomoyo dozed, floating peacefully in the state between waking and sleeping. The memory of the last two days of strain and agony was rapidly fading, but the exhaustion remained with her. Fortunately, other people seemed to be taking care of most of everything; her servants had cleaned her up and remade her bed with all fresh linens, wrapped her in a warm yukata and tucked her into bed. Her babies had been placed in the cot to the side of the bed - the double cot, she'd at least allowed herself enough hope to have one made for two - within arm's reach of the side of the bed, although it seemed so much effort to reach that distance right now and she was so very tired.

Most of all she was relieved, a bone-deep relief that seemed to come up from the bottom of her soul and fill every inch of her until there was room for nothing else. Never - not even the day that Kurogane and Fai had burst bleeding into her world amidst chaos and screams and the smell of singed flesh and hair - had she been so glad to be wrong about what the future held.

She was so tired, she would have liked to sleep - but one or another of the twins kept waking her up needing to be nursed, and whenever one stopped, the other would shortly start. So she dozed despite the quiet presences moving about her - the maids and nurses, bustling about, or Kurogane, looming with a dark and dangerous aura outside her door. He could have gone back to his rooms to rest with Fai, but he'd insisted on staying here, and she hadn't really had the strength to argue with him. No doubt Fai-san would find a way to persuade him, should he get too stubborn.

Footsteps and voices in the corridor roused her slightly, and she pulled herself out of her reverie more when the door slid open and spilled light in from the hallway. There were not many people whom Kurogane would allow past his guard so easily, and -

The golden light haloed around a kimono of green and silver, and wisping hair of gold. Tomoyo woke up even more, and her heart fluttered in her chest.

"Yuui," she whispered, and her lover came over and knelt beside the bed. He leaned over her and kissed her - that intimate gesture that he'd taught her, that she'd learned to so treasure - and she was smiling when he pulled back. "I thought you would be angry with me," she murmured.

Yuui shook his head, and she realized as the light fell on his face that his eyes were bright with tears. "Never," he said in a choked voice. "I wish you'd told me, love. I wish you hadn't had to suffer alone. But you're all right, and you've given me two daughters as beautiful as you are; how could I possibly be angry?"

I'm sorry, Tomoyo wanted to say, but she didn't; because that would have implied she regretted it, and she didn't regret anything. So she only smiled at him, and felt exhaustion drag her eyelids down again.

She felt the world about her shift and quake, and then a warm, welcome body was pressed against her own under the covers. Yuui spent a few minutes shifting them both around, until she was lying comfortably within the circle of his arms; then he gathered her hand in his and brought it to his lips, kissing her palm gently. "Sleep, love," he said huskily. "Rest well, because there's so much to do when you wake up."

"Babies," Tomoyo said sleepily, and she heard Yuui's familiar, light and husky laughter.

"That too," he said. "But I was thinking of something else. When you are recovered, Tomoyo, we are going to be married."

For a moment the words meant nothing, then Tomoyo blinked hard back to wakefulness as the meaning sank in. "What?" she asked in confusion, unsure if she had heard him correctly.

"We are going to be married," Yuui said firmly. "I want you to be my wife, Tomoyo; I want to be your husband, not only your 'consort', not only your lover. Someday, life will take you away from me, or me from you, and I don't want to have any regrets, or leave anything undone. I want to be your husband and the father of your children."

"But - the court -" Tomoyo said anxiously, and Yuui's finger came to rest on her lips.

"Be damned to the lot of them," he said, with a note of controlled savagery in his voice that she'd never heard from him before. "You're the Princess and the mother of the next Empress and the High Priestess. If any of these petty noblemen here thinks he can tell you what to do, or how you should live your life, then they can go hang by their thumbs off the castle turret."

She blinked at him, momentarily too stunned and bemused to come up with a response. This was more assertive than she had ever seen Yuui; normally he was - not exactly timid, but unassuming, always taking the path of least resistance and taking great pains not to offend or inconvenience anyone. Perhaps he'd finally come to value himself more; perhaps he'd come to realize that there were things in his life worth taking a stand for.

Not that it really mattered what had changed his mind. "Yes," she said happily, and laid her cheek down on his shoulder.

"It wasn't a question, you know," Yuui observed.

"I noticed that," Tomoyo replied. "Nevertheless: Yes, now and forever, my beloved husband. Now quiet down; I'm tired and I want to sleep."

He laughed. But at least he stopped talking, and stopped moving around, save for the quiet stroke of his thumbs over her wrist. Tomoyo drifted off to sleep, thinking how glad she was to have found this life; this life that for all her powers she'd never foreseen.

And how blessed she was for it.



~to be continued...



"Kuro-tan, come to bed."

"…"

A sigh. "Kuro-tan, come to bed. You've been standing guard outside Tomoyo's room for a day and a night straight. You're going to have to leavesometime, you know."

"Hm."

"It's not like you'll be leaving them defenseless. This whole castle is bristling with perky ninja like you just dying to jump out of window and inflict mayhem on anyone who even looks in our direction funny." The voice went persuasive, wheedling. "You should go and get some rest, so you can come back later all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Ne?"

"…"

"I'll give you a massage." His voice dropped lower. "Among other things. Come on, Kuro-tan. It's been four days. I'm a brand new uncle and I want to celebrate."

"So go celebrate. Doesn't sound like the party's died down yet."

Another sigh, more aggrieved. "I want to celebrate with you, Kuro-dense. Give it a rest already - let's give the newlyweds some privacy!"

"Hm."

An angry growl, almost too low to be heard through the wall. "Kuro-stubborn, I am drunk and I am horny. If you don't come back to our rooms with me right now, so help me I am going to suck you off right here in the hallway."

"You wouldn't dare."

There followed some scuffling, the shifting of cloth over skin, and a sudden yelp - much higher pitched than usually came out of the big ninja. "Mage -"

"Hmm, Kuro-tan? That's funny, you don't normally mind when I do… this~"

"Stop that!" More scuffling, and then a heavy sigh. "You are completely shameless, do you know that?"

"Yup!"

"All right, if only to keep you from completely scarring Tomoyo and the kids. They can hear right through these walls, you know."

Bubbling laughter. "I'm sure I'll get to it eventually, but why rush things?"

"Hm."

Two pairs of footsteps, walking away down the hallway.

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