Guysss, I'm so sorry this chapter is late! I crashed my car like a dick and managed to break my arm, fracture three ribs and an ankle and basically, I'm just a hot mess right now, typing with one hand and wanting to cry because it's taking so long. Depressing life story aside, it looked a lot worse than it actually was and I'm on the mend :) I reaaaally hope you like the epilogue, and I think you'll like the little surprise at the end, so no skipping ahead! To everyone who has read this story, I love you! And thank you so much to my reviewers, you've given me motivation and ideas, and I love you for it :) Thank you, thank you, thank you! I've really enjoyed writing this fic, so I hope you have enjoyed reading it and will stay tuned for any future fics I may write! Once again, THANK YOU.
Until we meet again,
'Come on baby, you can do this.'
'Ok Hikari, I'm gonna need you to push hard when your next contraction comes, sweetheart.' The midwife standing between Kari's legs looked up at her with an excited smile on her face.
'Arghhh you're so patronising!' Kari flopped back onto her pillow, frustrated and tired. Her face was red and glistening, her eyes dull with exhaustion and she was breathing heavily. TK used his free hand to sweep her damp hair away from her face.
'She's trying to help you, baby,' he said quietly. He winced as his wife squeezed his hand tightly and glared at him.
'And you can shut up!' she spat. 'You're the reason this is happening to me! Oh lord, I'm dying!'
'You're not dying hon, and you're doing really well, you're almost there,' the midwife said kindly. She glanced up at TK, who hadn't responded to Kari's accusation of causing her pain, and smiled at him. He nodded at her.
'I'm used to it,' he admitted with a small smile. 'I wasn't too good the first time round.' It was true, the last time Kari had bought life into the world, she had screamed and cursed and shouted at everyone for allowing her to refuse pain relief, and TK had stood there shaking like a leaf, not knowing how to react, too nervous to offer her any words of encouragement. And when the midwife had invited him to the end of the bed to see his baby's head making its way into the world, he had fainted on the spot.
'That's normal for new dads, sweetie,' she said with a smile. 'It's much nicer when you know what to expect the second time around.'
'NICER FOR WHO?' Kari shouted. 'Oh never mind, there's only something that feels like the size of a god damn refrigerator trying to rip its way out of my body, nothing to be fussing about! Godddd! Oh god, here comes another…'
'Ok Hikari, we already have baby's head so take another nice deep breath and push as hard as you can for me… One last push,' said the midwife happily. Kari gripped TK's hand as hard as she could without breaking all of the bones in it and pushed as hard as her body would allow her to.
'Fuuuuuck!' She hissed through her tightly gritted teeth. Eventually the pain faded and she fell back, panting heavily, dripping with sweat and ignoring the tears rolling down her cheeks. She sighed heavily as a wave of relief washed over her and she looked up at her husband, who wiped tears from his eyes as he smiled with pride at her. Shaking, she attempted to push herself into a sitting position as the midwife handed her a wriggling bundle, a sharp cry piercing the air.
'Congratulations Hikari and Takeru,' she said happily.
TK placed his arm protectively around his wife and newborn and kissed them both.
'Thank you,' he said.
'For making me the happiest man in the world. Again. I'm so proud of you, Kari. You and our family.' Kari looked at him, her heart bursting with love and pride and a weary smile gracing her features as fatigue attempted to consume her.
'I love you, TK.'
'I love you too baby.'
Mimi watched as Tai paced the dimly-lit waiting room restlessly, occasionally stopping to sigh and drag his fingers through his thick mess of hair.
Matt groaned. 'Tai, stop it will you, you're making me jumpy.' The tall blonde sat on a chair, his elbows on his knees, wringing his hands nervously. Mimi giggled at the two men, who were more anxious than she'd ever seen them, and realising their worry for their siblings, she felt a rush of affection. She looked at her friend, who had been there for her through everything even though he had been thousands of miles away at times, and her husband whom she had been married to for three years and loved more than anything in the world. How did I get so lucky? She thought to herself. Around this time five years ago she had believed that Tai and the others were all she had in life but now she felt content, optimistic. She had been going to therapy sessions and felt comfortable widening her social circle, making friends with Tai's associates outside the group and finding that she had an especially true friend in his mother Yuuko. The pair offered each other tremendous support, and they both agreed that it was nice to have someone who understood their situation. Mimi had progressed in many other aspects of her life too; she had started working for her husband shortly after they had married and although their friends told them that it was a bad idea to be living together and also work in such close proximity, they both found it to be wonderful. They had their ups and downs – like most couples – but Tai and Mimi Kamiya had been through a lot and always came out on the other side stronger than ever.
The wedding had been beautiful; the guests had been few – just family and close friends. Mimi's father had paid for everything including her dress, which was made from ivory coloured lace with a long train, carried by Sora, with Yolei, Clo and Kari following close behind her all dressed in soft pale pink gowns and carrying pink and white flowers. She had fallen in love with her own dress immediately, and felt like a princess when she put it on after having her hair and makeup done. The evening summer sunshine made the park look even more stunning, with beautiful pink flowers lining the aisle the bride walked down, and as the pair said their vows under the tree they sat under when they had their first heart-to-heart, their close friend Matt had played a soft tune on an acoustic guitar, though the sweet sound wasn't enough to drown out Kari's rather unladylike sobbing. She wasn't the only one; Mimi's brother had shed a tear, as well as her father and Tai's parents. The couple had hardly noticed though; they each could only think about how beautiful the other looked and how excited they were to spend their lives together. Mimi had wished that her mother could have been sitting with the families, but she knew that she was there and she could have sworn that she felt her presence, sensed her warmth and pride and Mimi felt incredibly comforted by the idea as she was walked down the aisle to her future by her beloved daddy, followed by her loyal bridesmaids.
Mimi's future looked bright. She had put her past behind her, and although she still sometimes struggled with her disorder and certain memories, she was always picked back up by her friends and husband. She had had a complicated and dangerous childhood, though she wouldn't change her experiences in the Digital World for anything, and most of her adult life had been traumatic but with the help of the people in her life she pulled herself out of the past and looked to her future. She had good things coming her way. And for the first time in her life, she knew her place in the world.
Matt had had a good few years; his band had been signed to a new label, and although at first he was doubtful since he and his bandmates were no longer in their twenties, The Wolves had received huge praise and success. He found it difficult to deal with the fame and attention at first, something Mimi had promised he would get used to, but now it was second nature to him and he couldn't imagine his career taking a better turn. The same could be said for his personal life. He and Clo had settled down and moved into a spacious apartment together, and very recently she had surprised him by asking him to marry her. It was untraditional and very spur of the moment – she had casually asked the question over tuna pasta bake one night and he had initially choked on his food – but after the shock had worn off, he thought it to be perfect. They were planning to wed the following year, and Clo had found Mimi, Sora, Kari and Yolei to be brilliant in helping her plan everything. She had laughed at the headlines following the engagement and almost died of embarrassment at some of the unflattering photos of her and Matt in newspapers and magazines but she knew how lucky she was and she was proud of him – he had always been moderately successful as a musician, but even he couldn't comprehend just how far he'd go, and she admired him for doing what he loved to do and living his dream.
The rest of the group had been hugely surprised at Matt's revelation that he was a one woman man now, and secretly wondered how Clo had done it. But despite the massive change in Matt's personality and outlook on life, his friends loved the new him just as much as they had loved the womanizer they had grown up with. Because even though they were in their early thirties, they still saw the loyal, protective young boy Matt had grown from. It didn't matter what path his life took, he would always have his friends and they would never judge him for anything, and he loved them for it.
Sora waited rather impatiently in the dark for news from Tai or Mimi about the new baby. All the events surrounding babies, weddings and the like had been forcing her to think about her life and what she wanted to do with it. She had never really thought about having a family of her own and she had always been more than satisfied with her career and the carefree lifestyle that came with being without kids. But her path had changed over the last few years and now, settling down with Davis of all people, she felt as though there was something missing. It had been bugging her for a while, especially since her wedding night only a month ago, when she had considered bringing up the topic of children to her new husband but backed down in her nerves. This was Davis Motomiya for crying out loud; the man she had known long enough to know that he was never the commitment type – he was far too much like Tai and Matt were when they were younger. But he married me, she thought. He's not that kid anymore. Besides, Tai and Matt have already had this conversation with their other halves; they're proof that it's possible. Sora let out a loud sigh as she bit her lip, her chin resting on her crossed arms over the table, staring at her phone as if it would ring if she looked hard enough. She jumped as she felt two sharp fingers poke her in both sides of her waist.
'Jesus, Davis!' Sora screeched as she pushed his hands away. 'Don't do that!'
Davis simply laughed and rolled his eyes. 'I'm sorry, baby.' He returned to her waist and wrapped his arms around it, holding her close. 'Forgive me?'
Sora sighed once more. 'Of course. I'm sorry; I'm a little on edge. Surely she's had it by now?'
'No Davis, the bubonic plague,' she replied sarcastically. 'Of course the baby.'
Davis giggled. 'Chill, babe. It won't be long, and Tai will let you know, I'm sure.'
'Yeah.' She rolled her eyes in resignation and turned to face her husband, who was looking at her with one eyebrow raised questioningly. She flushed and offered a small smile. 'I'm a little excited.'
'A little? Christ Sora, you've been watching that phone all night like it's a bomb. Come back to bed.'
'Alright.' She took his hand and followed him back to their bedroom.
The pair lay in bed in silence for a while before Sora had a sudden surge of courage. She knew she had to take the opportunity before it slipped through her fingers the way it always did when she tried to bring up the subject and became nervous.
'Davis, do you ever think about having children?' She blurted the question so suddenly that she wondered if she would have to repeat herself. The silence that greeted her made her nervous until she realised that he had probably fallen asleep. She silently cursed herself for her crappy timing and rolled over onto her side, shutting her eyes but knowing that she was unlikely to get any sleep until Tai had called her with the big announcement. She lay still for a while, thinking about the universe and the meaning of life and many other things. Eventually she found herself worrying about her recent feelings when she realised that she was in her early thirties and her biological clock was ticking. If she wanted children, she had to have them soon. But what if Davis doesn't want to? He's a little younger than me; maybe he's not ready. Oh lord… What if children aren't a part of his plan at all? What if –
Sora's eyes snapped open and she wondered if she had imagined the response. She rolled over to face her husband and he responded by rolling on to his side to look her in the eyes. He repeated himself. 'Yes.'
'All the time.'
Sora stared at him, bewildered. 'Why didn't you say anything?'
Davis was quiet for a moment, as if planning his answer carefully before lowering his voice. 'Because I always thought it wasn't of any interest to you. I didn't want to scare you off.'
'Scare me off? Davis, I'm your wife. You're stuck with me now whether you like it or not.' She giggled quietly. 'Although… I have to admit, I avoided the subject for the same reason.'
'Is it something you want?'
'With you? Yes. More than anything.'
'Then let's do it.' Davis' voice was low and serious, but Sora giggled in spite of it.
'Let's do what?'
'Let's start a family,' he replied. She realised that he was being deadly serious and she felt a sudden rush of such happiness and excitement that she barely let herself believe that he had actually said the words. He lifted a hand to brush a stray lock of red hair away from her face and looked into her eyes, which were shining in the dark and reflecting the moonlight coming through the slightly open curtains. 'Let's have a baby.'
She grinned happily as she repeated his words. 'Let's have a baby.'
While everyone seemed to be on tenterhooks waiting for the Takaishi birth, Ken and Yolei Ichijoji slept soundly in their bed after a long day. It wasn't that they weren't excited for their friends. It was that Ken worked very hard at what he did, and Yolei was often worn out by their three children, who were very close in age, and the two spent the little free time they had left spending quality time together and catching up on much needed sleep. They loved being parents, and rather than three young children putting a strain on their relationship, they seemed to have strengthened it, as they both had a huge amount of respect for each other and what they did. The last five years had been focussed on their new additions and although they had less time to socialise with their friends than they used to, they still made the occasional house visit with their little ones in tow to keep friendships strong.
The men in the group had been gobsmacked when Ken had announced that Yolei was pregnant with their third child so soon after the birth of their second, and somehow it had landed him the title of 'Hero' by Tai and Matt for having 'incredibly strong and determined little swimmers.' The nickname and its meaning always made Ken blush madly, and he would protest but secretly he was very pleased about the couple's ability to bear children so easily, and he was incredibly proud of the family he and his lovely wife had made for themselves.
One person who proved to be somewhat of a life saver for Ken and Yolei was Cody. He had surprised everyone with his ability to handle the three children easily on his own, and he would offer to look after them from time to time so that Ken and Yolei could go out and relax. Unbeknownst to the others, Cody was eager to have his own family, but he hadn't yet found the special someone he was sure he would spend his life with. He was content though, and he was sure things would work out for the best in the end – they always did.
Joe and Izzy were different cases entirely. Children were not a part of their plans as of yet and they both felt satisfied with their lives as they were. Izzy was still working for Tai, something he enjoyed – especially since Mimi joined them, since Tai always seemed to be in a considerably better mood because of it -, and he had recently started seeing a pretty young girl of just twenty one, something the old Matt and Tai would have been jealous of. It was nothing serious - he enjoyed her company, he found her attractive, and for the first time in a long, long time, he allowed himself to loosen up when he was around her. Call it an early mid-life crisis (Mimi had, plenty of times, poking harmless fun at him at almost every opportunity), but Izzy was having a lot of fun and he didn't much care for his situation to change at that point.
Joe's lack of interest in family was due to another reason entirely – he worked long hours at the hospital, constantly sanitising his hands and wincing when he heard someone cough, and he had seen his fair share of pregnant women with various types of sickness. The whole idea of putting a woman in that position freaked Joe out to no end, but then, he always did see everything in a negative light. He had taken an interest in a lady, also. Jun Motomiya made it rather obvious that she was interested, but Joe was oblivious, even when his friends were adamant that she had it bad for him, and Davis would complain that his sister did nothing but talk about Joe Kido, the tall, smart, handsome man who she would win round one way or another. Joe found it funny – she was a determined, yet harmless and kind woman – but he was sure it was just flirty banter. Either way, he would soon learn that Jun was perfect for him, as she was just as career focussed as he, with the idea of pregnancy freaking her out also. He just needed some encouragement.
Tai fidgeted as he waited for news on his new niece or nephew. He couldn't sit down for more than five minutes and he often found himself pacing the waiting room or going for a stroll in the nearby corridors with his wife. He knew Matt was nervous for TK, but the worry Tai held for Kari was something else entirely. He knew she'd done it before and the first time around, TK had been at work and Tai had been the one to take her to hospital and hold her hand through her contractions until the panicking blonde had arrived. Tai had left quickly; almost unable to bear the sight of his beloved baby sister in pain, feeling guilty as he left TK to tend to her but knowing that it was the right thing to do. He'd seen the pain she was in and this time he found it hard to imagine her going through it again.
As if reading his thoughts, Mimi sighed. 'It'll be worth it in the end, Tai.'
'I know.' His voice was quiet and he felt his wife's fingers link with his own and he felt a small amount of comfort from the gesture. He thought about the last five years to take his mind off his worry.
A little over three years ago, Tai had proposed to Mimi. He knew it was right, he knew she was the one he wanted to marry, but he had been nervous all the same. Sora had helped him choose the ring, a beautiful piece with a subtle but stunning diamond with tiny sparkling pink stones surrounding it. It was perfect for her and Tai knew it was the one the moment Sora had pointed at it. It was a little pricey, but Mimi was worth every penny and the look on her face when he had presented it to her told him that it was money well spent. Not long after the proposal Tai noticed that the nightmares that had been plaguing him for years had stopped entirely. He couldn't remember when they stopped but they had, and he felt that he had his new fiancée to thank for it. She had been a huge column of support for his mother and with her help, Yuuko had improved greatly; she never worried about taking her medication anymore, she went to therapy, and she and Mimi would discuss the things they had opened up about. He was rarely there for these moments since both women considered the conversations to be extremely personal and Tai was only happy to give them privacy, but he knew that whatever was said between them was helping them immensely. His mother would have not been in the contented place she was in if it weren't for Mimi, and yet his beautiful wife had no idea. It wasn't that she was blind to it, it was that she was too modest to see that she had probably saved someone's life, and Tai loved that about her. Yuuko's recovery was probably the reason for the end of his nightmares and it was all down to Mimi.
Not too long after the wedding – which was by far the most emotional day of his life to date – Tai's new wife had expressed her desire to work again and he had arranged an interview for her. He knew she would be the one to get the job anyway but he didn't want her to feel as though she had only been hired because of her relationship with him. As it turned out, Mimi was very good at her job, which she took over from Tai's previous personal assistant Suzie, who had quit suddenly after it was announced that money had gone missing. This had caused a huge amount of gossip in the offices and Tai regularly had to threaten his employees with their jobs to get them to stop spreading rumours and get on with their work. The gossip had been reignited at the arrival of Mimi Kamiya, who was even more beautiful than Suzie, and many of Tai's male employees would stare shamelessly at her as she walked through the offices. Although previously he was never anything but professional when in the presence of his employees, he despised the looks of hunger his wife was receiving and he would take a twisted kind of pleasure in approaching her, twirling her around and kissing her in front of everyone, leaving the men seething with jealousy and the women longing to be in Mimi's place. They were a very good looking couple with similar interests and a history unlike any other – they were the perfect match.
As his mind took him back to the corridor he was standing in, he glanced at his wife, who was smiling at him, and remembered everything they had been through. Another world, wars, sacrifices, losses, victories, friendships, and a scale of emotions wider than Tai even knew was possible. He loved her, more than he thought he ever could.
The pair walked back to the waiting room where Matt was slouching on a chair, drumming his fingers on his knee and covering his mouth with his free hand as he yawned loudly. He then ran his fingers through his blonde hair and froze when he noticed Tai and Mimi enter the room, their own fingers intertwined with each other's, and stifled a laugh. Tai looked pale and tired, and anyone would think he was here to receive medical attention, not waiting for his sister to give birth.
'Jesus, Tai. I know we're all nervous, but you take it to a whole new level.'
'I just don't want her to be in pain.'
'That's nature, pal. Gotta suck it up,' Matt replied with a smirk. 'Besides, it won't be for much longer.'
'I guess.' Tai looked at his watch and counted the hours for which Kari had been in labour. Matt was right; it wouldn't be long now. He smiled as he thought about his new niece or nephew, and of course the relief Kari would feel when it was over.
Matt suddenly rose from his seat, his face tense, and Tai and Mimi both looked to where Matt's gaze rested. TK marched towards them, a huge grin plastered on his face, and the three of them could have screamed with excitement, though only Mimi would ever admit it. He stopped in front of them and waited.
'Well?' asked Tai.
'Come on, TK, don't kill us like this!' moaned Matt.
Mimi stood and stared at TK, waiting for him to make the announcement.
TK took a deep breath and steadied himself. 'Congratulations, guys,' he said. 'You have a nephew!'
Tai, Matt and Mimi abandoned their stiff postures as they laughed and breathed heavy sighs of relief, clapping TK on the back and congratulating him. Mimi jumped up and down and squealed, wrapping her arms around TK's neck, and he grinned widely, giving her a gentle hug back, being careful not to hurt her in her excited state.
He pulled away from the three of them and put a hand over his mouth, sighing happily. 'I'm a daddy,' he said in disbelief. 'Again.'
'Do you want me to call mom? You know Kimi will still be up waiting.' Matt smiled.
'No, it's ok, I'm going to do it now. I can't wait to tell her,' TK replied. 'Oh, and you can visit your new nephew in a moment, the midwives want Kari to have some privacy, but she's adamant she's going to see you,' he said heartily, and he headed outside to call his mom and tell his young daughter the news of her new baby brother.
Tai sighed. 'I hope Kari's doing ok.'
Matt looked at Tai, whose excitement had settled somewhat.
'You've got to get used to the idea at some point,' Matt told him. 'Or what will you do when it's your turn?'
Mimi stood behind Tai and frowned at Matt, dramatically swiping at her neck and shaking her head in an effort to shut him up before he made Tai even more of a nervous wreck than he already had been. She blushed as Tai turned around to look at her and she froze awkwardly, her hand still near her face. To her surprise though, he did not look scared anymore. Quite the opposite in fact; he had a grin on his face as he pulled Mimi so that she had her back to his stomach and wrapped his arms around her waist.
'Everything I can,' he whispered into her hair, his hands protectively holding the large bump of his heavily pregnant wife.
If You Love Someone, February 5 - May 6, 2014