A/N: An Epilogue, as so many of you asked for a time-skip.
She was not thirty yet. She was twenty-six. He was past thirty now. He was thirty-one. They were not so old, but older. She was working now. He was still working. And they both indeed lived in a small apartment in Tokyo. Small, cosy and comfortable. They owned a goldfish called Peko. And every morning, except for Sundays, Mikan tried to finish the crosswords whilst eating breakfast – she had only twice managed to finish it before she had to leave to work. Except for these two days, Natsume finished the crosswords, and often left a smug smiley face under the crossword (sometimes even a cruel 'ha-ha') for Mikan to see when she arrived home. Usually on Fridays, she reconvened with the Squad at Anna's, whom were all working too. So, not wanting to stare at the clock, waiting for her to come back home, he would go to Luca's.
He was still both Aoi's brother and Mikan's lover.
And this happened one spring evening.
Natsume was watching television; he was lazily lying down on the couch. He hoped to watch the movie he had been itching to watch tonight with his girlfriend, but she was taking her long sweet time in the bathroom, most likely washing her hair, and patting her face with creams that Sumire had recommended.
After a while, he heard the door of their bathroom click open and heard her soft footsteps making their way to the living room, where he was.
"Um… Natsume?" Her voice was apprehensive.
"Hmm?" he was staring rather intently at the television, for they were showing an advertisement for a coffee machine. When she didn't respond, he looked at her. When seeing her rather pale face, he stood up straight on the sofa. "What? What's wrong?"
She pressed her lips together. Then, "Remember how we decided, after seeing Mochu's kid, that all babies look like potatoes?"
He stared at her, confused. Slowly, "Yeah…"
Baby faces were squishy, squashed and adorable - like a potato.
"Well…" Mikan swallowed. "… um, well… do you like potatoes?"
He frowned. "You know I do. You always buy me crisps and McDonald's chips."
She walked towards him, and sat down, before saying, "No, Natsume… I mean, would you like a certain potato? Would you mind a squishy, squashed potato?"
Natsume was still completely lost, and regarded Mikan as if she were a complicated physics equation. Or maybe an alien.
Mikan thought she had left enough hints, and seeing his confusion irked her, and so she couldn't help but snap, "Oh for God's sake, Natsume! Potato! Baby! Don't you understand that I'm trying to tell you that I'm pregnant?!"
Natsume shot up from the sofa, and gaped. "Pregnant?! Wait… you?"
"Who else? Unless you are too."
"Wait… with my baby?!"
Mikan rolled her eyes slightly. "Who else would have got me pregnant? Honestly Natsume, you can be so silly sometimes."
Natsume opened and closed his mouth. "I… We're going to be parents?!"
"Well, that's what happens when we have a baby, Natsume."
Natsume was stunned. He kept glancing from Mikan's face, to her tummy. To think, that under her clothes, under her skin, a little potato was growing there…! That thought changed everything. Suddenly Natsume understood their situation completely.
"You're going to be a daddy…" Mikan quietly said, her tone no longer patronising but rather nervous, and then stretched out her hand to hold Natsume's hand rather cautiously. "Do… do you mind?"
His hand, which remained limp for a second or two, now tightly held Mikan's fingers, and before she knew it, he had fallen beside her on the sofa and embraced her very tightly around her shoulders.
"I take it you're... okay with the news?"
"Okay?" he spoke not in his usual rumbling voice, instead, his pitch was higher, showing that not even his voice could contain the pure joy, pride and love that were all coursing, pumping viciously, through his veins. "I'm not okay, I'm so… so happy!" He couldn't quite find the right word – nothing in his vocabulary could probably convey to Mikan how he was feeling. "Fuck I don't believe – Fuck!" He beamed at her, and hugged her again.
Mikan bit her lip however. She was glad he took the news so well, but some part of her heart still held fear despite the relief: would she be a good mother?
Natsume then gazed endearingly at her tummy, and put his big hand there. "Our potato!" He was cooing, and Mikan's worry faded slightly. He then looked at her, with his hand still stroking her tummy. "How far along are you?"
"I'm not sure – Nonoko," who was now a pharmacist, "gave me every single pregnancy tests she could get her hands on. I tried them all out, and got positive plus sign from them all. So I haven't been to the doctors yet. I only noticed two days ago that I skipped my period, and I never usually do. And then I remembered that I was feeling nauseous—"
"Every time you smelt the okonomiyaki sauce…" Natsume finished for her, with a tone of new-found understanding.
Both of them had found it very strange, when around two weeks ago, maybe three, they had gone to an okonomiyaki restaurant, and as soon as she stepped in, Mikan ran to the toilet, retching just from the smell of the sweet sauce that permeated throughout the restaurant. This was very odd, for Mikan, who's grandfather was a Kansai man, usually loved Kansai food, but after that night, she couldn't bear to think of, let alone smell the sweet sauce, and so had thrown away all the okonomiyaki sauce bottles that were in their fridge.
"When did it happen? How, even?" Natsume's question was valid – Mikan had been taking precautions: she diligently took contraceptives, for Natsume (and even she) disliked using condoms when intimate with each other, they discovered within the first week of Mikan's arrival back to Tokyo from Karuizawa, all those years ago. This potato, this baby, was completely unplanned – as if they had gone to McDonalds, ordered a cheese burger, but found that in their paper bag, there was an unordered portion of chips. And just because they hadn't ordered it, Mikan was worried that Natsume might reject it, but she was infinitely relieved that he not only accepted, but graciously welcomed the potato chips.
"I don't know. I guess we'll find out."
"I bet it was sometime in February. It was so cold we spent most nights in. That means we'll have a November baby! Like me! Do you think it's a boy or girl?" He was absolutely bursting with remarks and questions.
"I don't know. I guess we'll find out."
Natsume finally noticed that Mikan was not, at least outwardly excited as he was, which was very odd as Mikan was usually the expressive one. He frowned. "Wait. Are you okay? Are you worried or something?"
"Of course I'm worried," she hugged her boyfriend, seeking comfort, "I mean… we're still so young—"
"Mochu had his kid three years ago. He was twenty-eight. I'm thirty-one—"
"I'm twenty-six. It's as if I just started working. And I'm worried I don't earn enough to support a child—"
"Our child," Natsume corrected, "will be supported by both of us."
Mikan hugged Natsume tighter, gratefully. "I know… I am happy, I promise. It's just that I'm a bit worried too. Maybe it's the hormones, I don't know. Maybe I'm finally growing up."
Natsume pressed his lips to the top of her hair, and kept them resting there, even when saying, "What else are you worried about? Please tell me."
"I… I'm scared I won't be a good mother. And what if our child is bullied?" She was thinking far too ahead in the future, but Natsume listened to her worries, knowing them to be real, at least for her. He did not want to put her down – he valued and respected her feelings after all. "What if our child hates this home? What if our child makes no friends?" At that, Mikan felt tears slightly sting her eyes, "A-And things are going so great between us… I'm so scared that we might change when we become parents."
Natsume soothed her by stroking her hair with one hand, and her tummy with another all whilst softly kissing the top of her head. "You're going to be a great mother, Mikan. Even better than my mother, I know it. We'll raise our child well – as best we can. We'll buy a bigger place, so our kid can have a room, far away from our's so he or she won't have to hear us having sex every night."
Mikan laughed at that. Natsume was so good at making her feel better.
"And," Natsume continued, smiling, now seeing that Mikan seemed brighter, "don't worry about your job. It's 2021 – not 2001, or even 1950 for that matter. Times have changed. You won't become a housewife, confined home to raise the kid all by yourself whilst I'm at work. We'll both work, both cook and clean and both raise our kid. And if money becomes an issue at some point, I'll ask Pa if I could rent out our house in Karuizawa. I'll do everything I can. I promise you, Mikan. I promise."
Mikan nodded, and turned inwards to face Natsume and put her head in his chest.
He hugged her again, and allowed her to calm down a bit more – but he couldn't help it, he was just too happy and too excited: he burst out, "I'm going to be a dad! Hey, have you told Aoi? I've got to call Pa."
"I haven't told anyone yet. Nonoko, I guess, but I haven't confirmed it to her yet. You're the first."
"Let's call them!" Natsume exclaimed, and stood up in search of his phone. "My God, she's going to be aunt! And my dad a granddad, Jesus. And your parents! Jii-chan too… Mikan, my God, he'll be a great granddad!"
Mikan slightly groaned, but smiled, "My Jii-chan is going to kill me when he finds out that I'm having a kid out of wedlock."
"Oh?" Natsume looked back to look at her. "Shall we get married then?"
Natsume always (since he asked her out, she noticed) always always, had a knack of asking conventionally important questions in an enormously casual manner. Once again, his tone was blasé – as if he had just asked her what she ate Anna's for dinner last week, instead of asking her to marry so spend the rest of her life with him. He had just effin' proposed!
"You're unbelievable!" Mikan said, shaking her head, with a laugh.
His phone now in his hand, he walked back over to his girlfriend with a smile playing on his face too. "I was going to ask you, but never got around to it. I mean, I already feel like we're married anyway. Just without the hassle of guests or paperwork."
"Or the honeymoon…" Mikan pointed out.
Natsume smirked. "That can easily be arranged."
She laughed again but then said, "I agree." Mikan pulled him close to her when he sat back down on the sofa. She agreed both with his opinion, and with his proposal – she didn't have to clap her hands and scream "Yes!" for Natsume to know that she was going to marry him somewhere down the line.
Natsume was all over the place: he had only just sat down, got comfortable, but then he stood up rather abruptly. "Let's celebrate!" he walked to the small kitchen unit found behind the sofa. He rummaged around the fridge, but remembering Mikan could not drink alcohol, or any summer wine for the matter now that she held their child, he closed the fridge, and turned to the cupboards. Thirty seconds or so later, he came back to her, with a packet of potato crisps in his hand.
"To celebrate Potato, we shall eat potato crisps." He opened the packet, and then gave her a crisp, and held one himself. "To us and Potato!" He 'clinked' his potato against her's, and with giggles, Mikan too ate the crisp.
"You're so weird."
"I am going to be a father!" was Natsume's response, before pulled more potatoes out of the bag to eat. When swallowing a mouthful however, he said, a rather pensive expression now on his face, rather seriously, "We're going to have to stop with all the junk food though. Our kid is not going to be some obese kid who only eats chips, cup noodles and deep-fried shit. We… we have to be healthy now."
It was as if this was a life-changing moment for Natsume – he was to become an adult who actually ate vegetables willingly, not because he knew somewhere in the back of his mind that he should somewhat participate in the 5-a-day rule.
Mikan patted her silly boyfriend, fiancé, even. "Don't worry. We can still have your Bolognese every other day."
He smiled at her, liking her optimism.
Then, Mikan put her hand to his cheek and said very sincerely, "You're going to be such a good dad, Natsume. I know it."
He grinned, and pride swelled within him. This time, he believed her absolutely. She was his, and he was her's but soon they were going to have something that was their's and their's alone. The duo will soon become a trio, who knows, maybe even a quartet by next Christmas! And, my goodness he couldn't wait to tell his friends, especially that ass Mochu.
When Mikan and Natsume had first gone to visit Mochu's kid, Kurumi, a new born girl, three years ago, both Natsume and Mikan, and Luca and Koko too marveled at the new life, appreciating and thinking it so strange that two people could really create another human being, who would one day grow up.
Mochu told all of his best friends, and Mikan, that they should hold baby Kurumi to say hello, and when Mikan passed the sleeping Kurumi to Natsume, Natsume took her very carefully. Only when Mochu started to raucously laugh, which was soon joined by everyone else, even Mochu's wife, did Natsume realise he was doing something wrong.
"Why are you holding her so awkwardly?" Mikan had laughed at him, from beside him. "Here – like this. You're holding her as if she's a bomb!"
But she was so small! And he was so nervous to hold her!
And then, Mochu had said it through fits of chortles, "You're going to be such an awkward father, Natsume!"
That night, Mikan noticed how moody Natsume was – he grunted all night whenever she asked him something, and at 8pm told her, rather moodily, that he was going to bed. She knew all too well that he was upset both at Mochu and at himself (more himself) – he was a child at heart, after all, and with a resigned sigh, Mikan had followed her boyfriend to their bedroom. He had his back turned to her as he was facing the wall, in juvenile defiance. She knew he was not asleep, so she had sat on the bed beside him, and started to stroke his hair. Then, she softly said, "I'm sorry I laughed at you today."
He grunted yet again.
Biting back the sigh, Mikan had continued, "Don't take Mochu's words to heart, Natsume. You'll be a great dad one day, don't worry."
He grumbled this time.
Mikan then lay down next to her silly, childish boyfriend and spooned him.
He was still brooding, for the next thing he had said was, "Kurumi looked like a potato."
Mikan snorted but then reprimanded him; "Don't take it out on his kid, Natsume. But," she slowly said, "I agree. But I don't think that's just Kurumi though. All babies look like potatoes."
"Babies are potatoes." Natsume had then decided.
But he had still continued to brood, and so Mikan decided it was time to bring Plan B onto the bed: her boyfriend was a simple man – children often kiss or ask their mothers to kiss their bruises to make themselves feel better, and Natsume was no different: kissing, embracing and definitely sex were enough to turn Natsume's bad mood into a good mood, she had discovered, and so decided it was time to kiss him better.
She had rubbed her body hard against him, before murmuring in his ears, "You know Natsume… only time will tell whether you'll be a great father, but I can tell you now that you're really, really, really good at the whole making-a-baby business," by that, he knew she meant sex, and rather immediately, pleased with her compliments, he turned now to face her, "I mean," her voice was low and husky, and Natsume felt himself swell when he realized she was using her bedroom voice, and seeing the way her body pressed against his, "you're just amazing."
And when he had kissed her back with equal vigour, and grabbed her tightly around the waist, to then roll her on top of him, Mikan knew that her kiss did make him feel better, that she was forgiven and that Natsume had forgotten about Mochu's comments.
She was victorious. He was really a simple man. And she loved this simple man so much.
But here they were now, three years later, a few months away from having their very own potato, and Natsume had complete faith, despite Mikan's own very small doubts about herself, that they were going to be great parents.
Back in 2015, when they both imagined themselves in the future, a baby was far, far away from their minds. But now, as they started to kiss each other, with Natsume rubbing her tummy very warmly, their minds were absolutely brimming with thoughts of a child – their child. A few minutes ago, Natsume wanted to tell all his friends, her friends and their families the joyful news – indeed, he would have even shouted it from the balcony, to announce and hail the coming birth of his baby Potato! (All hail Potato!) But now that they were showing how much they loved each other with strokes, whispers and kisses, he just wanted to be with his family tonight. When stumbling to their bedroom, Natsume closed the curtains, shutting out the outside world away. Tonight, it will just be them and them alone.
Aunt Aoi can find out tomorrow. This time, for now, both Mikan and his baby were his little precious secret.
Oh, how he couldn't wait to meet his child.
A/N: I know, omg, so corny but for some damn reason, I'm just feeling so corny myself! Maybe it's my hormones, haha. Either way, I hope you enjoyed this lovey-dovey-kissy-wissy-smoochie-woochie Epilogue!
And thus I conclude Summer Wine! I hope you all enjoyed it. I really enjoyed writing it. I'm sad that my summer is ending now, but in a wistful sort of way; I've come to accept it through the arrival of the rain.
Thank you all so much for your reviews! I'm so grateful, honestly.
And for all those who are patiently waiting for Resistance, fear not, I will be updating that (maybe once uni starts again and I'm bored out of my mind in lectures) sooner rather than later.
Thanks for reading,