epilogue: safe in the sound
- "Possibly Maybe" by Bjork
"So...she's the older one?"
Shuichi chuckled. "No. She's the older one. And coincidentally, the loudest."
"Huh. Takes after you, then."
Shuichi tapped his lover lightly in the stomach. "Shut it, you."
Yuki smiled quietly to himself, and peered over the basinets once more. Shuichi was still in the hospital, his scars clearing up after he had given birth. Immediately after the delivery, a small section of Shuichi's bowels had begun to bleed, and the bleeding hadn't stopped until Dr. Ferrante had managed to bring him back, get in there, and repair the tear that had been made to one of his smaller intestines. The problem didn't seem so significant, but the strain of the birth had taken its toll on Shuichi, it seemed.
But here they stood, Shuichi on his own two feet and in a hospital gown, robe, and slippers, gazing at their babies.
There they lay, sleeping, their tiny chests moving up and down, the one on the left sucking her thumb loosely. Shuichi had insisted on naming her Kaoru because she smelled so good. That wasn't to say the other baby, Mai, didn't possess a scent; it was just that her elegance surpassed such things.
"Seriously," Shuichi insisted quietly, holding onto Yuki's pinkie finger with his own as they pored over the girls. "She looks so...she just seems to carry herself well."
"Better than me," Yuki muttered, but Shuichi heard him anyway. He sighed and leaned on Yuki's shoulder, his eyelids lowering significantly. Yuki looked down and stared at Shuichi's face, which seemed to glow somewhat. He looked back down at his girls and blinked several times, hardly daring to believe that he was here, now, in this position, in this sort of time frame. Seguchi and Mika were in the lobby, reading magasines, giving the couple their privacy with their children.
He looked in the basinets once more. Kaoru looked very much like Shuichi, but Yuki half-suspected that she had his eyes. It had only been a day since their birth, and they hadn't woken up just yet, but her eyes had fluttered once and Yuki could have sworn he saw a flash of gold. Her fine brown hair lay smoothly on her head, tufted in some places. He had an urge to reach out and gently feel it, but he didn't want to risk waking her; as Shuichi had said, Kaoru was definitely the loudest of the two.
Mai worried him. Mai was too quiet, too subtle. She was gorgeous, same as her sister, but something about her unsettled Yuki just a bit. He shook off the feeling, and looked back at Shuichi, who was starting to fall asleep on his shoulder.
"Why don't you go back to bed," Yuki suggested quietly. Shuichi yawned and nodded, leaning up to give Yuki a kiss on the cheek. As soon as his warm lips left Yuki's skin, the novelist felt a crazy urge to just grab Shuichi and kiss him deeply, in front of all these slumbering babies in this room — and he did so, ignoring his soundly resistant subconscious. Shuichi was taken by surprise, and his eyes remained open for a few seconds before his succumbed to this crazy man, kissing him with all the energy he had. As soon as he stopped, Shuichi smiled and gently pushed Yuki off of him.
"You're so silly," he said sleepily. "But I love you."
He turned and walked out of the room. Yuki stood there by himself, watching Shuichi walk away. He turned back to his children and continued to look at them, unable to shake off how pretty they were. He quietly cleared his throat, noticing how dry it felt, and he realised that he hadn't had anything to eat or drink in close to twelve hours. He was about to see if he could grab a soda from the vending machine down the hall when, quite instantly, Mai started to whimper, then she began to cry.
Yuki looked around, nervous. Then it occurred to him that he should perhaps try to pick her up and calm her.
"Hey, hey there," he said softly, reaching down and gently lifting Mai from her spot, her tiny body emitting a strangely large amount of warmth upon his skin. "Hey...it's all okay. It's okay."
Mai continued to cry, but her voice grew considerably lower. She eventually stopped, her tears still running down her face, and she opened her eyes. Yuki nearly had a heart attack when he saw how clear and hazel-gold they were.
...So it was Mai I was looking at, Yuki thought now. Not Kaoru. Mai has my eyes.
...She's too much like me.
Mai stared up at her father with a quiet curiosity, her hands curling and uncurling as though she was unsure of just what to do with them. She settled for keeping them uncurled and flat on her blanketed lap, her fingers flexing slowly every few seconds. Yuki hesitated, then placed a finger atop hers, feeling her soft skin. Mai continued to stare at him, her brown hair lightly brushing her forehead in the form of tiny, thin bangs. Yuki looked back at Kaoru, who was still asleep, her thumb still in her mouth. He was surprised she hadn't woken up either.
As soon as he thought that, Kaoru squirmed in her place, then began to cry very, very loudly — her eyes were scrunched up terribly, her fists balled up and turning white. Yuki hesitated, panicking inwardly, then walked over and used his other arm to scoop her up, shocked that he hadn't dropped either of the girls.
Yuki walked around, trying to calm Kaoru, while Mai stared at her sister with the same curious look she had given Yuki. Kaoru continued to cry for a few more minutes, then she eventually died down and gurgled a little before opening her eyes.
Yep, Yuki was right. He had confused them. Kaoru had deep, wide brown eyes — not Shuichi's. Yuki supposed they came from Shuichi's mother, who had eyes that same colour. He looked into them, then back at Mai's — each pair had a certain intense feel to them, almost something like ferocity.
He enjoyed it.
Yuki sat down in a nearby chair and gazed at the girls, his heart hammering like crazy. Mai rested her small head against Yuki's shoulder while Kaoru played with her blanket, tugging at it and giggling. Mai stared at her sister sleepily, seemingly entertained. Yuki chuckled at the thought of her having the same temperament as he, only perhaps not as angry. No, Kaoru was the one who was bound to lose her head every once in a while. Yuki was sure of it.
He stared at the pair of them. They looked so alike, and acted so different. How typical — and Yuki was usually bored with typical. Yet....
And yet —
He loved them anyhow. He loved them all the same. He felt a pang in his heart, something strange tugging; he thought it was perhaps his hunger gnawing at him. Mai looked up at him, her eyes boring into his, her hand clutching his collar.
No. It wasn't hunger. It was...fulfillment, rather.
Fulfillment of a feeling that Yuki had been somewhat devoid of for quite some time.
He held his girls close to his chest, closing his eyes and letting one, thin tear stream down his face. He mentally cursed at himself for getting so emotional, but he felt that it was bound to happen anyway. After all, having children changed you — it was true. Even in his case, however small, it was still true.
He held them closer. He breathed in their scent. He remembered their faces, their voices, their cries, tiny smiles, shaking, still hands, the skin always so, so warm.
Yuki was about to doze off when he felt a warm hand rest upon his shoulder. He looked up and saw Shuichi standing there, a small smile on his face.
Shuichi pulled up the chair by Yuki and sat next to him, his head on the novelist's shoulder, his hand caressing Mai's small back. Mai turned to look at her other father, then resettled against Yuki's chest. The family sat there, hearts beating slow and steady, content and safe in their peaceful silence.
(Mai - elegance.
Kaoru - fragrance.)