Learning to Walk Again

By: Sinead

Chapter Sixteen

"ALESSA!!!"

I jerked awake, but didn't leave the bed. "Yeah?"

"We're leaving in three hours! And you still have to pack your armor!" my mother called back.

"Okay!"

Yokio groaned, and then blinked up at me. "Do we reallyhave to get up?"

I smiled, and then kissed his already-wrinkled nose. "Yeah, I guess so."

He sighed, and then pulled me closer again. "Tell me why."

"Because we're going to Washington D.C. for the Nationals."

You were wonderful.

I hid my blush against his bare chest. If Mom or Da finds out . . .

His chuckle was warm, his kiss upon my forehead filled with love. Then I'll not brag about you.

I laughed, and shoved a pillow over his face, before shooting over to the closet. Then I heard a sigh. Forgot one detail.

Do I want to know? . . . oh. Duh. Your issue, this time around.

"Unfair."

"Completely. Now will you stop watching me?!"

"Meh. You're no fun."

"Not during the day."

Rattrap's raucous voice outside our door wasn't comforting. "Woah, what?!"

Yokio looked at me as he wrapped a clean blanket around him. He opened the door a slight bit, then said out to the Maximal, "None of your business."

"Huh, sure."

I completed dressing then shoved Yokio out of the way of the door, stepping on the blanket as I did so, causing him to stumble and yank at the remaining corner covering him. "Alessa!"

I grinned, grabbed the blanket completely, and ran out of the room. Rattrap watched after me in wonder, as the sliding door snapped shut with an irritated growl from my spouse. I ran into the dining/living area, seeing most of the fighters and both my parents there. They blinked at me, then at the blanket. Finally, Ito-chan asked, "Was he that hard to wake up this morning?"

I shrugged. "Depends upon what your scale would be."

"Well, unless you want to explain what you said ta him as I was passin' 'ya door . . ." Rattrap said. I turned to see him standing behind me, a look of Tell-Me-You-Didn't upon his face.

I shrugged.

The look became more desperate, quickly shifting to You-Did-And-That's-Not-Right.

I grinned.

Rattrap shuddered, and opened his mouth, but a halfway-dressed Yokio scruffed him, and lifting him to a green-eyed glare. "What are you saying to my wife?"

"Uh . . ."

"Are you slagging insinuating–"

"Look, she was the one–"

"Rattrap, if you even–"

"Will you boys calm your hemorrhoids?!" my mother yelled from the kitchen. "Yokio! Where did you put the coffee?!"

He blinked at me. I sighed, then said, "Mom, you don't drink coffee. You hate it when Dad drinks coffee."

"I'm pregnant! And I want coffee!"

I walked over to the kitchen door, and said, "One cup a day. I want my sibling to be not only normally-shaped, but with a normal brain as well."

She glared at me, then said,"Fine. One cup a day."

"Promise?"

"Promise."

I blinked, then looked at Dad, who blinked back at me. He voiced his comment. "I told you to get sleep last night."

I frowned, confused. "I did."

"Uh-huh."

Memories flooded my brain, and I felt my face heat up into a full scarlet blush. "I did too sleep."

He grinned, and Micheal soon followed suit, catching on quickly to where this conversation would lead on to. "Whoo! You let out with the knowledge that you've been married all this time, and BAM! you've finally bedded him. Man, I love this place."

Itosugi was about to stand up to defend me, like any big brother should, but then stopped, seeing as I wasn't saying anything. He blinked at me, and Rattrap shuddered. "Don't wanna know, don't wanna know, don't wanna know . . . GAAAHHH!!! DAT'S SOMETHIN' I DIDN'T NEED TA HEAR DIS EARLY IN DA MORNIN'!!!"

I was looking at my feet, trying unsuccessfully to stop blushing, then gave up. "So? We're married."

Mom grabbed the back of my shirt, just as I saw my father yank Yokio back towards the rooms, also causing him to release Rattrap as he did so. The kitchen door snapped shut, and she blinked at me. "This true?"

I swallowed, then nodded, looking at my hands. "I was hoping that we'd be able to hold out until we were married by human standards. I guess that you shoulda made him sleep in another room after all."

She tipped my chin up to look at her. "You're married to him, nonetheless. And I wouldn't have separated you two for the world. You both needed each other." She sighed. "By his culture's standards, you're overdue in consummating the marriage. He's asked me about that, you know. When you were out tending the gardens and he was still too weak to follow you, he wondered why you hadn't said anything about it yet. And I told him to wait for you to let yourself become more comfortable around him. He was worried that it was his fault, that you weren't satisfied with who he was. He didn't want to be someone who you didn't love."

I hid my face in his hands. "That's why he was so depressed."

"Yes. But you managed to convince him." Hands pulled my hands away from my face, and I saw my mother's smiling face in front of mine. "So?"

"So?" I asked warily.

"Was it everything that a young woman's mind would fantasize about?"

I smiled, blushing again, and hid my face in my hands again. "Mo-om, not fair! Ew! I don't ask about you and Dad! Ugh, that's just gross that I would think about asking about what you two get up to! Nasty!"

"It's perfectly fair. I want to make sure that you're being respected."

I looked over my fingers to glare at her. "I'm respected."

"Didn't sound like that yesterday evening," she said, grinning.

I grinned back. "I provoked that fight, actually."

"Blocking?"

"Yeah."

"Yes, I remember thosedays when you were first starting out on training . . . I remember them well, actually . . ."

"Great. Have a wonderful trip down memory lane. I'll see you later, Mom, I have to find Yokio."

"Not yet. Your father's having a chat with him."

I stopped, and looked at her. "Oh, this does not sound good."

"If you want to end up pregnant without an income, then I'll let you find them." Shesmacked the fleshed outside part of her right fist into her left palm. "That reminds me. Yokio has to be fully registered today if he's going to be standing in for someone again. My laptop's up and running, and I can pull a few strings that will have him registered before the Nationals. That way you'll have two incomes once he's in."

I nodded, seeing the logic. Arena fighters can retire after three years of fighting, but they don't really have a good amount to live on for the rest of their lives by at that time. By overlapping Yokio's and my own incomes, then we would have more than enough to live and raise a few children on. More than likely, we'll be even able to send them to college if they wanted the opportunity. Plus, when I'm finally ready to retire and have children with my husband, I'd still judge or coach younger fighters. Those are paying jobs right there, but I doubt that I'd be able to train the kids fully, what with the strains that childbirth puts upon the body.

"Alessa?"

I looked up at Mom, who smiled and said, "You're thinking about your future, aren't you."

Nodding again, I smiled, and said, "I guess that I'm planning out what could be, when Yokio and I decide to start having children."

She nodded, and said, "That's what I did. And I got a job for managing the WeyQuinTree Arena since I had done such a good job in coaching kids in unarmed fighting there for five years."

I looked at her. "Why aren't you ever at the old house anymore?"

She smiled, "Where you grew up? Because you were able to buy this wonderful place. But I really came here to just watch over you for the rest of this season. I wanted first off to make sure that you healed well and completely. Then Dinobot showed up again, and I didn't want you without an emergency resource if you needed a little more help. But once Nationals are over, your father and I are going back to the house."

"I guess that I'll be living here full-time, huh?" I asked.

"If you want to. I mean, you're not all that far from where your father and I bought our house, and built the forge a hundred yards from the back door. That, and you still have your off-season job that was left open for you, which is only a short run away."

"It'll be nice to be completely alone with Dinobot for a while."

She laughed, and opened the kitchen door abruptly. All the fighters were there, one ear towards the kitchen. That is, all but Terrence, whose ear was clipped when my mother snapped the door open. She picked up a heavy ladle, and tossed it from hand to hand. "Who's first?"

They fled surprisingly quickly, managing not to bump into my father or Yokio on their way out with both Rattrap and Cheetor included in the eavesdropping crew! Optimus walked into the room, saw my mother, and backed out, hands up. "I was only looking for Silverbolt. I think he's elsewhere."

"Gazebo, actually," my mother said, straightening and rubbing at her back. "You know, that smaller building hidden by the arborvitae. There's three small stones, one upon the other, blocking the path though the hedges, but ignore that. It's just somewhere to go for quite time alone."

Optimus nodded, and started to turn, when he looked back at my mother. "Would you know where Blackarachnia is, then?"

I raised my hand, and said, "I'd hazard the Gazebo as well."

He opened his mouth, closed it again, and nodded. "I'll wait at the arborvitae and call them from there, then."

"Wise move," my father rumbled, chuckling.

Optimus laughed, leaving, and my father looked to me. "Your mother spoke to you?"

I nodded.

"And you willtake all necessary precautions?"

"Yes, Da."

"How many more years do you think you'll compete?" he asked quietly.

I shrugged, and said, "I dunno. Yokio and I'll decide that later, when everything's completely figured out."

"Alessa," my mother whispered, "once you have your child, you'll never move the same way again. You have to remember that, and prepare yourself to accept that."

I looked at her, and then ran into her arms, pressing my face into her shoulder, realizing why Mom was always to anxious when my father went out to fight. She still wanted to go out there, and she still had once had at least two more years of competing in unarmed fighting competitions left in her when I was conceived. And I was nearly lost, too. Mom didn't know that she was with child, and was actually fighting when she was struck a bad way, causing bruising on her left side and ripping of a few abdominal muscles upon her right side.

Sniffing, I looked at Mom, and said, "I'll remember."

Yokio cleared his throat, and then said awkwardly, "I don't know about that moving bit, but I know for sure, that we can control if . . . er . . . when we wish to . . . um . . . procreate. It's a Cybertronian trait that carried over."

I frowned at him. "You didn't tell me."

His blush deepened. "I didn't know."

I rolled my eyes. "Tell me later about it. I'm taking a shower." Stopping, I looked at Mom. "Are you taking vitamins?"

She winced. "I wasn't until I had the first inkling that I might be having another child. But I'm taking them regularly."

"Good."

I stretched as far as I could go, trying to reach as much of my back as I could with the soapy face- cloth. It wasn't working. I tossed the face-cloth into the small bucket of hot water at my feet, then looked around the Japanese-style bathing room. It was tiled, and designed as authentic as I could afford when I planned this house. I was already starting to think about revamping the bathing room and the kitchen.

Alessa?

Hm?

You're really agitated about something . . .

I laughed to myself, then replied, Oh, I just can't scrub at my back as well as I wish that I could. I'm not that flexible.

His chuckle was kind.Do you want help?

I sighed, and rubbed at my face with a clean face-cloth, then said, No, I'm fine.

Oh, okay.

You are so disappointed.

So? And what if I am?

Remember that after Nationals, there's how many weeks of vacation?

Oh, oh I like that, my wife.

I got into the tub and relaxed, closing my eyes. I'm moving completely into the Pavilion at that time. All of my other things are at my old house.

Then I'll help.

You have to finish packing our armor first! I said, realizing that he was sitting still, talking to me.

It's done.

Nuh-uh. Already?!

Yes, already. Uh, Itosugi helped.

You don't sound all that enthusiastic about that.

He basically threatened to kill me seven different ways if I ever hurt you in any way, shape or form. While I was pinned against a wall, no doubt.

He. Did. WHAT?! I leapt out of the tub, and started toweling off.

Alessa! It's fine! He was only warning me! And I understand his concerns!

By this time, I was storming to my and Dinobot's rooms, towel around me, and clothes under my arm. I slammed the door open, and looked straight at Itosugi and Yokio, who were watching each other. Itosugi didn't look all that surprised that I had come into the room the way I was. Apparently he had been warned. Yokio sighed. "I said that it was only a warning. Get dressed, Alessa, please?"

"Itosugi Yamayuurei, if you ever–"

Yokio stood, and rested his hands upon my shoulders. "Love, please."

The towel started slipping. I went behind the folding screen to sit. Itosugi sighed. "I don't want you hurt, little sister. Not by anyone. Yokio has me utterly convinced that he'd die if anything happened to you. I was only testing him."

I saw Yokio's shadow, and he then reached around the screen, underclothes and a large t-shirt in his hand. "I don't know what you'd like to wear on the way."

I thanked him as I took the cloth items, then walked around the screen again to look at Itosugi once I was dressed. "How many times have you 'tested' him, Itosugi."

"Just this once, Alessa. I promise you. I've been watching, though, making sure that you and he were right for each other. Now, look here, stop looking at me like that! I know that you didn't have any choice in this, and I don't think that Dinobot feels as if he had a choice in it as well, but I just wanted to double-check!"

My glare lessened slightly, but I asked calmly, "Why do you feel that way?"

He sighed, then looked at his hands. "Because I always knew that you were a girl. And because I swore to protect you as best as I could when you came out with the fact that you weren't 'one of the guys'." His black eyes caught my own blue ones. "My sister died at birth twenty years ago. You were born on the exact same date as she was, only one year later. My religion believes that if one family member dies, and if a child within the family is born one year later to the date, to the exact time, the member is reborn. Reincarnated."

"But I'm not within the family," I whispered.

He smiled, and nodded. "Yes, Alessa, you are. Ever since I found out about your birthdate, I kept trying to dig up more and more information. Finally, I happened upon the fact that Extinction Forges supplied you with your armor. And I talked with your father about you, not knowing that he was who he was. All I knew was that he had trained you." Ito-chan looked between Yokio and myself. "And then I met you. I had to act surprised that you were a girl, since I had figured out that no guy in their right mind would want to move in the ways that you did. You had agility down to the 'T,' and you could strike faster than any other fighter in our arena. You also have the strictest codes of behavior that I had seen in an arena fight. You'd let an opponent stand before attacking them again. You are a warrior. You were born on the date that the zodiac Chinese New Year changed from the old to the new, at precisely midnight, declaring you to be neither of the old nor the new. You're timeless, Alessa."

"And you think that I'm the reincarnate of your little sister?" I asked.

Itosugi blinked once, then nodded once. "That is why I call you 'Are-chan.' My sister was called Arashi. Ara-chan. Are-chan. It's a close enough resemblance."

I reached my hand out to wipe a tear from his face. He froze, then blinked. I smiled. "Didn't know you were crying?"

"No . . ."

I embraced him, and felt him hold onto my shoulders tightly. Smiling, I held his head to my shoulder, and whispered, "You've wanted to say that for a long time, haven't you?"

"Ha . . . hai . . ."

"Aah . . . Ito-chan, you're too much. How do you say 'big brother' in Japanese?"

"Oniisan. Or it's the name, followed by 'niisan.' Why?"

"So I'd call you Itosugi-niisan?"

"Itosu-niisan," he whispered.

I smiled up at Yokio, who was smiling in return. His voice was kind. "And that would make you, Itosugi, watashi no giri no kyoodai. Would that be correct?"

"Your brother-in-law?" the Japanese young man asked, sniffing once and standing straight. He smiled. "I guess that I could live with that."

"So if Alessa calls you Itosu-niisan, what would you call her?"

He looked at me, smiled, and ruffled my hair. "Aresa-imooto? Nah. I'm calling her Are-chan for the rest of her life. And you, Dinobot, are Yo-kun."

"Great. No respect at all," I said sarcastically, chuckling. "I'm getting changed. Itosu-niisan, thank you for telling me. I had a feeling that something had been bothering you for a while."

He smiled, and opened the door. "I have to get my things ready for transportation. I'll see you in D.C., hai?"

"Hai. Travel safely, Itosugi."

"I will. Ja ne."

"Ja ne."

The door closed after him, and Yokio pulled me to him so that I was resting against his chest. "You know, my wife, you are amazing. I couldn't get him to tell me more than just admitting that something was bothering him, and that it involved you. You got the complete story."

I shrugged, and walked into our room, where I opened the closet and pulled out a few items of clothing. "What do you think, the blue shirt with these jeans?"

He shook his head, and pulled a soft grey shirt out. "This one, with those jeans. And those black boots, the white watch Itosugi gave you for your birthday, and that necklace that I like on you."

"You like anything on me, as long as you can take it off."

"Drat. You saw through my secret."

I laughed, and looked up at him. My happiness died off as I remembered something my mother told me. "Dinobot, why didn't you tell me that you were worried that I hadn't loved you?"

"What?"

"When you came back to me. Mom told me that you had asked her why I hadn't said anything about consummating our marriage. Why didn't you tell me that something was wrong?"

His green eyes were suddenly cast downwards. "I didn't want you to force yourself to do something that you didn't want to. But I was afraid that you really didn't love me after all."

I combed my fingers through his hair, and then rested my forehead against his collarbone. "I'm so sorry that it looked that way. I didn't know what I had been doing, and I'm so sorry that I wasn't . . ."

"You weren't doing anything wrong, Alessa. You were doing what you thought was right, and I respect that. You wanted to wait until we were married by human standards, which still has yet to happen, yet . . . in Cybertronian standards we've been married for months."

I nodded, then whispered, "But still . . ."

"There is no 'but still' in this conversation, Alessa. I didn't want you to worry that you were doing something wrong by obliging to consummation. I wanted you to be ready, and I wanted you to come freely to me when you were. And I love you all the more that you have kept yourself for me alone, as well."

I chuckled, and then drew away from him, slipping into the jeans. "You really are amazing, Yokio."

"Yeah, but I love you. That's why."

I felt myself blush. "And you're a romantic sap."

"As always, and only for you."

Once changed completely, I pulled his head down gently to meet me in a kiss. He met me in it as well, and I smiled. We pulled apart, but he kissed my forehead. "Is there a world competition, Alessa?"

"Once every five years," I replied.

"When's the next one?"

"In four years."

"Good."

"Why?"

"I have enough time to make a name for myself."

I laughed and held his hand as we walked out to the waiting vehicles.