Title: A sorta Fairytale, pt. 4 - "things you said that day up on the 101"
Characters: Yami no Yuugi/Atemu & Mutou Yuugi
Prompt: # 97, Artist's Choice
Word Count: 8.978
Summary: Settled into their lives, Yuugi and Atemu deal with to dilemma of how to make their family complete and how to keep their own relationship healthy.
Author's Notes: End of series 'fix-it'. Shounen ai. Made up name for Yuugi's mother: "Yusuke". Some Yuugi angst. Characters are around 28 of age.
The alarm clock was merciless. Yuugi groaned as he slammed the button, killing the shrill beeping noise. Yawning and stretching, he kicked the covers away and rolled out of bed. Time for a morning shower! He grabbed a towel from the stack on the dresser and dumped his pajama top on the floor.
As usual, Atemu had gotten up much earlier, keeping a tight schedule with the kids' morning routine. Yuugi wasn't a morning person and he was glad he didn't have to deal with spilled orange juice, boogers and lost shoes, books and bentos in the early morning.
Careful as to avoid tripping, Yuugi made his way over to the door and the stairs. There was a lot of construction material on the floor. With a little bit of luck, the work would be ready the next month. He couldn't wait until their own bathroom was finished! It had been a major point of discussion, but the pros definitely outweighed the cons. Yuugi's attic room had to be remodeled to make space for the new bathroom, but he was happy to do so, as it meant he didn't have to trot down the stairs every morning and waiting until either Atemu, his mother or one of the kids had finally finished.
Atemu had suggested that while the attic was being reconstructed, they might as well imply some other changes? Yuugi hadn't gotten the hint, until he realised Atemu meant to adjust the layout of the house to create a room for a third child. The former Pharaoh had brushed the topic quite a few times, but he didn't push. Yuugi had voiced his doubts. Their family felt complete to him, with a beautiful smart daughter and a headstrong, stubborn son - sometimes too stubborn for his own good - and the desire for a third child hadn't crossed Yuugi's mind. He had asked for time to think about it when Atemu had brought up the subject, and the former Pharaoh respected his wishes.
Yuugi passed Kazuo's bedroom. It used to be his grandfather's, and often Yuugi would still be overwhelmed with sadness when he walked past it. Today wasn't an exception. It had been more than eight years, but Mutou Sugoroku had meant the world to Yuugi, especially without his father around to support him. Yuugi could see the great mess inside the room, the bedlinens in a crumpled heap as if an animal had ravaged it, the wallpaper covered with huge globs of paint and torn at the corners, the clothes and toys strewn all over the floor and the inevitable damaged objects: this time it was a picture book, completely torn out of its hoped it wasn't Tzukiko's or Atemu's, otherwise his son was in major trouble.
Kazuo's behavior was pretty erratic, probably stemming from his mother being addicted to heroin when he was wasn't really sure. Atemu had great patience with the boy, unfortunately he was the least appreciated person by Kazuo. The child only seemed to calm down when Yusuke, Yuugi's mother, was around. Yuugi hoped that Kazuo would grow out of his extreme moodswings and learn to accept both his fathers; in the meantime, they had to deal with his behavior and give him as much love and attention as they could.
Tzuziko's bedroom, the former guestroom, was right next to it and, not surprisingly, a total contrast to Kazuo's. Whereas Kazuo enjoyed chaos, Tzukiko's room was the epitome of meticuluous neatness. Every object had its place and she could get extremely upset when someone moved something, intentionally or not. The Hello Kitty dollhouse was gathering dust; Yuugi had to admit defeat to that particular birthday present. Atemu's gift of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica was on Tzuziko's desk, the books already showing wear and tear from its intensive use. Tzuziko had been nagging about a laptop since she was five and still blamed Yuugi for not allowing her to skip a class. Yuugi heaved a soft sigh, yet a fond smile curled around his lips. He wouldn't want to miss the kids for a thing. They were two individuals, strong individuals with their own place in this world; and he was proud to call himself their father.
He hurried downstairs to shower and get dressed, it was a regular workday and he had to rush, otherwise he wouldn't be at the office in time. After all his grooming, Yuugi emerged in the kitchen, hungry for breakfast.
"Good morning, Yuugi-kun," Yusuke said. His mother was quite cheerful in the morning.
"Dun wanna go to work," Yuugi greeted her. She chuckled and poured him some orange juice.
"I really wish you could take some time off, dear."
"If only,"Yuugi groaned. Over the years, Pegasus had been withdrawing gradually from the gaming business and so Yuugi found himself working more and more projects for KaibaCorp. than his original job at Industrial Illusions. The two companies often joined forces, rather becoming collaborators than competitioners: Kaiba delivering the technology, Pegasus the artistry. Yuugi would never say out loud that he sort of missed having the flamboyant American around. When Pegasus was at his office, he would throw Funny Bunny plushies at his employees and tell them to have a good time, in Yuugi's case with 'Pharaoh-boi', even though he never mentioned that to Atemu's face. Pegasus was growing more interested in selling his artwork than the actual management of his business, leaving I2 in the hands of the boring board of directors.
The projects for KaibaCorp. were interesting, challenging and huge. Kaiba had planned a gaming convention and the teams were working months in advance to get every presentation, design and new technology in perfect condition. Yuugi had to work hard, but he enjoyed every minute of it. However, Kaiba had all but revoked everyone's holiday to work on the important convention. Taking time off now was nearly impossible. Yuugi made a face. He would love to goon holiday, to actually visit another country. Atemu would love to see Egypt without getting involved in Ceremonial Duels. Ever since Yuugi had caught up with Bakura on Anzu's wedding, their friendship had rekindled. Bakura had send e-mails and pictures from the archaeological site he was working at and Yuugi had caught Atemu looking longingly at the pictures; it was his homeland, deeply rooted in his soul. Someday they would be able to visit the pyramids and the temples, Yuugi was sure about that.
He sipped his orange juice and grumbled some more.
"Go see Atemu-san before he's busy with the kids," Yusuke suggested as she put a plate with food in front of him.
"Food first," Yuugi said even though he had to hurry. Mornings were far too short for kissing his lover, paying attention to his kids, eating breakfast and hugging his mother before he had to leave for work. He shoveled the food inside, ignoring his mother's stern look and downed the rest of his orange juice. Another reason why he was looking so much forward to his holiday: he'd finally be able to take his sweet time at breakfast!
Atemu was upstairs in their bedroom, having dressed himself, just finishing with his earrings.
"Good morning, mou hitori no boku," Yuugi said.
"Good morning, aibou," Atemu replied. "Are you ready for another day of work?"
"I want some time off but Kaiba-kun won't let me," Yuugi whined.
"I know, aibou," Atemu ruffled his hair. "Hold on for a little while more. As soon as that convention is over, you can take some time off and I promise we will do something fun, all right?"
"We never do fun stuff anymore," Yuugi pouted. "When was the last time we ever played a boardgame of Duel Monsters?"
"As soon as the kids are grown up I will play with you, aibou," Atemu said and smacked Yuugi's ass. "Now if you will excuse me, I have two kids to get ready."
"They're my kids too," Yuugi protested, rubbing his lower backside.
"Of course they are," Atemu said. "But you have to be at your office within fifteen minutes or else your boss will have your head."
"Kaiba-kun should have kids of his own," Yuugi muttered. "Then he would empathize more with us parents."
"I would pity his kids," Atemu deadpanned.
Yuugi yawned as he climbed into bed and pulled the covers around him. What a day; it was really a miracle that he hadn't gone completely deaf from Kaiba's yelling. No matter how many games the teams designed, no matter what brilliant ideas they came up with - it was never, ever enough for Kaiba. Yuugi wanted nothing but a good night of sleep, preferably erasing Kaiba's loud words from his mind. It was already past eleven, and he yawned some more.
He closed his eyes, hoarding the blankets and the pillows, knowing that there was still plenty left for Atemu. The former Pharaoh often was cold during the night so they made sure blankets were abundant on the bed. A smile tugged at Yuugi's lips when he felt the familiar weight on the mattress. The weight shifted and with an audible click, the light on the nightstand was turned off.
"Night, mou hitori no boku…" Yuugi mumbled, waiting for the other to put his arms around him. It was the first thing they had done when spending the night together; wrapping arms around each other in a loving embrace, and Yuugi could barely fall asleep without it. His smile widened went he felt Atemu leaning into him, arms shifting around him and… a warm hand trailing over his chest, as if ironing out the folds in his pajama top.
"Mou hitori no boku.."
His fingers went over the buttons, thumb flicking open the top one. Lips touched his neck, pressing a kiss to his skin. For some reason they long had forgotten, they only wore one pair of pajamas together - Yuugi the top and Atemu the bottom, and mostly a few sizes too big.
Yuugi kept his eyes closed, focusing on the touches and caresses, very familiar sensations starting to rise.
"Mmmm… mou hitori no boku…"
Atemu shifted over him, kissing him passionately. Yuugi arched his back, faintly noticing that the rest of the buttons were opened, fingers on his bare chest now, and he gasped.
Gods, these sensations… so good, so pleasant… he barely noticed the soft gasp in his throat, asking for more…and the pajama top was gone. Cool air brushed over his chest, and he shivered. Not for long, as Atemu's warm hands, his long slender fingers, caressed his skin, traipsing over sensitive spots, and not long after his lips nibbled on his neck again, exactly that spot that made him weak.
"Aibou," Atemu said and Yuugi heard something behind the other's words, some kind of… longing that was different than usual.
"Mou hitori no boku, something wrong?"
"No, nothing is wrong. I just want…"
Yuugi tilted his head, leaning back lazily. He loved being the center of attention like this, to feel the warmth and the intimacy, and his own hand reached for Atemu, to return the love he was recieving.
"I want another baby," Atemu suddenly said and before Yuugi could answer, his lips were covered by Atemu's for a searing kiss. Yuugi could barely breathe, forgetting that he could breathe through his nose, and was forced back into the pillows due to the ferocity of the kiss.
"Mou.. mou hitori…" he started.
"I'm not really sure…"
Atemu leaned into him, pressing kisses all over his chest. He hadn't bothered to put on the pajama pants, and the moonlight shone into the room through the ceiling window, ethereally illuminating him.
Yuugi arched his back a little, trying to resist. This was a serious discussion, after all.
"Mou hitori no boku, this is…unnn… low…"
"And I am going much, much lower," Atemu smirked against his skin, flicking out his tongue and drawing circles around his navel. His hand slowly darted lower, reaching for him, gently stroking him. Even after all the times they had been together, his touch made Yuugi shiver and sear with pleasure. All thoughts of their previous discussion went out the window as he reveled in the touches, the caresses, the strokes, the licks. He couldn't resist - why should he? All he could do was to turn into a puddle of blissful goo, and his breathing turned erratic as Atemu continued to stroke him.
Afterwards, as Atemu was lying down, having Yuugi pulled on top of him, he gently caressed his lover's hair, brushing a few damp bangs out of his face. Yuugi smiled, lazily. His body was glowing, and he should get out of bed to grab a towel and clean the both of them up - but not right now, he was too much in a state of bliss to think rational thoughts. The former Pharaoh moved his arms into a protective embrace, kissing the tip of his nose. He hadn't forgotten about the discussion.
"I am not asking this for myself, aibou. It is for our whole family," he said.
"What do you mean?" Yuugi looked at Atemu in the soft moonlight. All those years they never bothered to put a screen in front of the ceiling window; Yuugi didn't know any better than to leave it uncovered all the time. Once, Insector Haga and Dinosaur Ryuzaki had crashed the window to steal the God Cards, which Yuugi had left in their box in a bag on his desk. He doubted a simple screen would keep burglars out, and besides, any burglar would probably be scared away when seeing the two of them naked.
"I think that with three children, our family is complete," Atemu said. "I cannot give you a solid reason, aibou. I just feel this way."
"You never ask anything for yourself," Yuugi said, pensively. "Are you sure you can handle it?"
"Things have settled down at the antiquary. Tzuziko is fairly independent. Kazuo…is still a handful, but things get better."
Yuugi bit his lip. He was still thinking as he nuzzled Atemu's neck. He smelled of desert sand, of the sun, of exotic spices and burning heat. It was a scent Yuugi could never get enough of.
"Just give me some time to think about it, all right?"
He had asked for time before, and Yuugi could almost feel Atemu's disappointment. He could see none of it on the other's face, but Yuugi knew better. They were two halves of the same soul; even if something remained unspoken, they just simply knew. He brought up his hand to cup Atemu's face.
"I'm not saying 'no', mou hitori no boku," he said. "Just…give me some more time."
"I know," Atemu whispered in return. He leaned into Yuugi again to kiss him, and there was nothing different about his kiss, it was just as passionate and fierce as ever. Yuugi gladly surrendered to it and returned the kiss just as passionate.
"Mutou-san, you look like a ghost," Fukata Sasuke said when she saw Yuugi at the office. His secretary was never indiscrete, and her comment on his appearance meant exactly that; he was really looking like a ghost. "Did the kids keep you up at night?"
"No, mou hitori no boku did…" he said in return.
She gave him a quizzical look. "Mutou-san?"
"Oh, I mean, someone else did…!" Yuugi blushed. He talked a lot about his family at the office, and people knew that he lived with another man. Some colleagues expressed being uncomfortable with that thought, and Yuugi made sure to not mention his home situation when dealing with them. He was fairly discreet, not flaunting, and wanted to keep things professional and friendly. Those who were interested and not bothered by it, shared the stories of his home and family life. At the office, he referred to Atemu as 'Atemu-san' like everyone else did, but every now and then he slipped up.
Yuugi made a non-committal sound which she interpreted as him wanting his agenda. She immediately gave him a print of his scheduled appointments and added: "Mutou-san, don't forget your lunch with Jounouchi-san and Hiroto-san."
"Thank you Fukata-san," Yuugi said and smiled before entering his office. "I certainly won't forget it."
How could he? Having lunch with Honda and Jounouchi was a great way to see his friends and keep up with them. Everyone was so busy and even though the traditional weekly lunches had been sacrificed due to complex work schedules, they made sure to meet up in person at least once a month; in the meantime, e-mail and text messages and other social networks were used to keep in touch. Of course, whenever she could make it, Anzu was also part of the lunch tradition.
She had called recently to tell the good news that she was expecting her first child. Anzu had been dancing at top level, and balked at the thought that at 28, she was already getting too old for professional dancing. "I didn't want to give up dancing, not for a long time," she said. "But it's physically very demanding, and I've been at the top for over six years. I was hoping to make it at least ten, but my knees are acting up, and now with a baby on the way…"
She wasn't going to stay at home, but opted to decide what to do after the baby was born. Her husband Warimi supported her in everything she wanted to do and Anzu knew she had multiple career choices. He was the head of a large, national chain of supermarkets and together with Anzu, quite the society couple. The Hitsumonos were well-loved guests at society venues, endorsing several charity purposes and they often made headlines, if only for the glamour and glitter surrounding them. Anzu assured her friends that she was still the same Anzu, and they knew she hadn't changed; but it was still bad that she couldn't make it to this particular lunch. Yuugi made a mental note to ask the other guys what kind of gifts would be appropriate, maybe they could buy something nice for the baby.
Fujikawa's was extremely busy as it had featured as a 'hot spot' in a restaurant guide not long ago. However, the staff had known Yuugi and his friends for so long, that they always prioritized their booking for a table. Yuugi was happy to meet Jounouchi and Honda again, always glad to meet up with his friends. Jounouchi had set up his own shop, building up and maintaining a good reputation restoring classic cars. He was talking about joint-ventures with Honda, who had a stable income with his motorcycle shop, but not enough to sponsor his Hiroto race team. He wanted to participate in a Grand Prix himself whenever possible.
They talked about work and stuff, and the topic inevitably came to Anzu's baby. Jounouchi had his mouth stuffed, but he declared between two large bites that he adored babies, as long as they weren't his own or his sister's. He looked at Honda menacingly, who choked on his food. Honda quickly denied wanting to have babies, especially with his store and racing career going so well. Shizuka was still in school for crying out loud, studying to become a beautician. She wanted to take the study for veterinarian first, but discovered it was too difficult for her. Jounouchi didn't like the thought of becoming an uncle, even though in secret, should a baby ever arrive, he rather liked it to be Honda's than anyone else's. He trusted Honda, and if Shizuka loved him, there had to be some quality trait about him, right?
"Mou hitori no boku wants another baby," Yuugi blurted out as soon as both his friends had their mouths full.
Jounouchi choked on his oden. "Sheesh, Yuugi! Couldn't you have waited for another second?"
Honda's eyes widened. "He wants another baby? What's he trying to do, set up his own army?"
"Honda-kun, Jounouchi-kun, that's not his plan," Yuugi said, though he had to laugh. "Mou hitori no boku thinks that with three children our family is complete. He's a good father and he takes great care of them."
Jounouchi looked impatient. "Nobody doubts that, Yuugi. But three is even more of a handful."
Yuugi poked at his food. "Mou hitori no boku never asks something for himself," he said softly. "Sometimes I think he focuses on me and the children too much, and forgets about himself. But like I said, he never asks… he doesn't even buy things for himself, be it for some clothing or jewelry, and he never complains."
"Might be, but it'll be your third kid. Can you deal with that, also financially? I mean… your daughter doesn't give you too much trouble, but when I hear you talk about your son, sometimes…"
"He might not ask for anything for himself, but he's asking a lot of you right now," Honda added. He sipped his drink. "Don't forget, Yuugi, a third child is a drain on your wallet and your freedom."
"I chose to have a family," Yuugi protested. "I don't care if it costs money or freedom. We wanted children, a family! We're ready to make any sacrifice for it."
"I dunno," Jounouchi said. "It seems just so much for one guy to handle, three children."
"Hey, I'm there too! I'm not like you, who'd leave his girlfriend of the week to do all the work!"
"Hey! That's not true!"
"I'd say, let the subject rest for a while. Maybe he forgets about it," Honda said. He waved with his chopsticks.
"No, he won't," Yuugi said. "And I don't want him to. This is too much of an issue to just be forgotten."
"Are you opposed to it?"
"No, absolutely not! When we talked about children… well, it was pretty obvious from the beginning that we wanted to adopt, and we never assumed we would stop at one."
"It might be because Anzu's going to have a kid," Jounouchi piped up. "You know, when women are together and one is pregnant, the other one gets urges too?"
"Jounouchi-kun, I sincerely hope you're not comparing my boyfriend to a woman…"
"Well, he is a stay-at-home-Pharaoh, so why not?"
Honda was now the one to choke on his food. "Don't let him hear it! Do you want to get challenged to a batsu game?"
"Mou hitori no boku?"
"Yes, I am right over here," Atemu said, as usual carrying around some paperwork. He was wearing his reading glasses and Yuugi had to suppress a leering grin. He never told Atemu how sexy he looked with glasses, secretely enjoying Atemu's slightly confused look whenever he leered at him.
"I think we should continue with the adoption," Yuugi said.
"Really?" The former Pharaoh smiled. "That is wonderful news, aibou." He pursed his lips, however. "Are you really sure?"
"Yes I am," Yuugi said. "If you feel our family is complete with a third child, then…"
"And what do you feel?" Atemu interrupted him. "I do not wish to go through with this if one of us has doubts. That would not be fair- not to ourselves, and not to the child."
"I know." Yuugi closed the distance between them and opened his arms for a hug. As usual, Atemu was quick to answer to the gesture. "I'm always honest, mou hitori no boku, and my doubts are gone. I really want us to be complete."
"I would never accuse you of lying, my love," Atemu said, his hand petting Yuugi's hair, his fingers gently curling the strands. "I wish you to be honest to yourself."
"I know." Yuugi could hold this position for hours, just to feel Atemu so close to him, in an embrace, gently cuddling. "I'm sorry it took me so long, mou hitori no boku."
"You asked for time," Atemu said. "I rather give you enough time to think about it, than force you to make a rash decision."
"Hm-m," Yuugi said, closing his eyes as he reveled in the attention. Atemu continued petting him, his fingers tracing Yuugi's earlobe.
"Then, with your permission, I will fill out the paperwork," he said.
"Ugh, the paperwork," Yuugi said, frowning his face. "I really hate that. It's so… inhuman."
"But we are going to offer another child a good chance at life, aibou. I will be glad to go through it once more to make our family complete."
"I know." Yuugi heaved a sigh. It was Atemu who went through the entire procedure, not him. Yuugi knew about the stress and the strain that came with an adoption. It was such a great sacrifice, and his lover was prepared to go through all of that again. To make our family complete… yes, a family, that was what he had always dreamed of.
"You are tired," Atemu said.
"So are you, mou hitori no boku. Busy at the store? Kids being difficult?"
"Nothing more than usual, aibou." Atemu pressed a kiss to Yuugi's forehead. "I can handle it."
"You're so strong," Yuugi said, in awe.
"Not as much as you are. Now, go to bed young man, before I send your mother after you."
Yuugi was lying in Atemu's arms, his body almost overheated. They certainly had celebrated their recent decision wonderfully and exubarently, these last few days. He had to grin. During the week, sex often was as a low priority, but this week had been very, very satisfying. He loved the soft snuggling after they finished, the tender carresses of Atemu through his hair and his shoulder, touching his skin. This was such a wonderful moment, and he was still all tingly from their wonderful love making. Yuugi wasn't really feeling as wonderful as he used to, though.
"What are you thinking, aibou?"
"I'm just worying all of the sudden," Yuugi said.
"It is very busy at work and we have so many deadlines to meet. Kaiba-kun is yelling his head off every day and my secretary is about to either quit or kill herself."
"That is unsettling, aibou. I know that you have many deadlines... maybe another position would be less stressful?"
Atemu was hesitant to suggest it, as he knew how much Yuugi loved his work. Ever since KaibaCorp. was dominating the games market as well as the virtual reality and 3D holographic technology market, the stress had only increased.
"You're so sweet," Yuugi said. He turned his head towards him, searching out his lover's fascinating, hypnotic red eyes. Even in the dark they seemed to be glittering with a hint of red. "But no, this is exactly the job I've always wanted. I love my work. I just don't love the pressure that comes with it."
"Do you think we should cancel the procedure?" Atemu didn't sound disappointed or anxious. Yuugi bit his lip. He had no doubt as to what Atemu was talking about. "If you feel all this stress is too much, than maybe it is for the better if we hold it off." He leaned a little into Yuugi and nuzzled his neck.
"What did I do to deserve you?"
"What do you mean?" Atemu sounded confused.
"You're so wonderful. I don't know what I'd do without you."
"You would marry a woman."
"That's not funny, mou hitori no boku."
"I am sorry, aibou." Another kiss.
"I don't want you to hold off the adoption. It's not fair."
"It is not about being 'fair', aibou. If one of us is not feeling comfortable with it, then the procedure is off. A child is something different than a box of cereal. You can return a cereal to a supermarket, you cannot give a child back and say "It did not work out"."
"I know, mou hitori no boku, but you want it so bad…"
"That is true, but this decision demands both partners to completely agree," Atemu said sternly. "If one of us has the smallest doubt, it is off, remember?"
"On the other hand, we don't want the age gap to be too large. Tzuziko-chan is already eight, and Kazuo-kun five," Yuugi thought out loud.
"Age is not a factor. It happens to many families that there is a baby long after the first children have grown up."
"You know what I mean."
"I want you to go through with it, mou hitori no boku."
"Are you sure, aibou?" Now he could detect some anxiety in Atemu's voice. He couldn't deny his Pharaoh anything, could he? Atemu was convinced that with three kids their family was complete. Yuugi might not be so thoroughly convinced, but still… they could both handle it, couldn't they?
"Yes I am sure," Yuugi said, surpised at his own strong and convinced voice. He didn't imagine that the hug he received was tighter and intense than usual. He just wasn't sure if he was doing the right thing.
As work and daily life continued, Yuugi's slight unease evened out. He was getting more and more excited, agreeing that yes, a third child would make their family complete. His mother reacted with the same enthusiasm as with the other children; she hugged both Yuugi and Atemu and started on her interior decoration plans; she had chosen the furniture for the bedrooms before and Yuugi trusted his mother's good taste. As for the two children already in the house, Tzuziko and Kazuo, well, they both reacted differently.
Before Tzuziko was adopted, Atemu had said that he wanted to be forward and honest about the whole procedure. No lying, sugarcoating or hiding the truth from their children. The kids had a right to know, no matter how difficult it was. "We give them all the love and care we can give," Atemu ahd said, "and to us, we are their parents… and I hope we are their parents in their eyes, too." When telling Tzuziko, the smart girl had already understood that men weren't able to reproduce and even though she had been very silent after the explanation, she had accepted it as a fact. Kazuo, still too young to fully understand, had shrugged and then rolled over the carpet as if he was a dog.
With the news of a brother or sister along the way, Tzuziko was joyous, but not overly excited. Yuugi figured that she was going to 're-evaluate' her position in the family, as she was a worriwart about those kind of things, instead of playing with dolls or fawning over a J-rock star. She was far too intelligent for her own good… and Kazuo had started screaming 'Nonononono!' and had only quieted down after Yuugi's mother had taken him in his arms and gently shushed him.
Yuugi thought that there would be plenty of time left to all get used to the upcoming… ah… expansion, so it was quite a shock when a letter from the adoption agency, Oshimuru, arrived with information about their daughter, already stating a date when she could be transferred into the Mutou's care - Yuugi really hated how the agency expressed itself, but well, he wasn't going to throw a fit over it - and it was much, much sooner than they had expected. And to Yuugi's discomfort, it coincided exactly with the Very Important Gaming Convention. He wanted to be with Atemu to see the first moments of their daughter, he wanted to be with Atemu together to take her home with them.
That left him with the daunting task to ask for some time off, and that was why he was in Kaiba's office, having worked his way past an impressive line-up of stern secretaries.
"Another one? You can't get paternity leave now!" Kaiba hissed as he looked over his laptop at Yuugi.
"Kaiba-kun," Yuugi said, exasperated. "This is for the benefit of your employee, who will be much happier at work when his situation at home is taken care of."
"I'm not responsible for your situation at home," Kaiba snapped. "It's not my problem that you want to adopt every baby in the country. No, Mutou. We need you at the convention, you just can't sign off for a few weeks just to settle your youngest sprog in."
"Don't refer to a child like that," Yuugi replied heatedly. "You have no right to deny my request. It's a standard clause in the KaibaCorp. employment contract that an employee has a right to paternity leave, even in case of adoption…"
"I don't care if you want to adopt a hundred babies," Kaiba said. "You just can't do it now! We've been working towards that convention for ages, and it's simply not done if my head designer and developer, that's you, won't be attending the press conferences and convention in itself just because he's got the baby rabies!"
Yuugi's mouth went slack. "You can't deny me my paternity leave!"
"You're not deaf, are you?" Kaiba didn't even look at Yuugi anymore, but at the screen of his laptop. "You can leave the entire hullabaluba at home for a few days of convention, or is all the work too much for your precious Pharaoh?"
"I pity you, Kaiba-kun," Yuugi said, steaming with rage. "For all the loneliness and sadness that you must feel by attacking other people who do have a family life." It didn't get much of a reaction out of Kaiba, only a raised eyebrow. "This is important to me. I haven't taken one day of sick leave, I've always been there for presentations and shows, and I've always worked extra hard to meet your impossible, unreal, inhuman deadlines!"
"Hey, what's the problem?" A third voice suddenly rang out in the office. Even Kaiba was startled, not having noticed that someone had entered the room. Aside from Kaiba himself, there was only one other person who had instant and unlimited access to his office, namely…
"Mokuba-kun," Yuugi said and felt his cheeks redden in embarrassment. "I apologize," he added, "it wasn't my intention to yell."
"Oh, don't mind me," Mokuba laughed, "I'm used to hear people yell in nii-sama's office. Mostly they beg and cry how much they like to keep their job, so it's kind of refreshing that you're yelling about something else."
"I'm sorry," Yuugi muttered and stared at the floor. Mokuba had grown up, towering over Yuugi and quickly rising to the same height as his older brother. Surprisingly, he wasn't interested that much in the corporate world. He was involved with KaibaCorp.'s marketing and PR strategies, but he didn't hold a full-time position. His official business card still listed him as Vice President, though.
"What are you doing here?" Kaiba's voice was softer when his brother was involved. "You had school today…"
"One of the senseis was sick, so we were sent home earlier." Mokuba grinned and hopped on the desk. Kaiba muttered something under his breath about 'private schools' and the 'wasted tuition money'. "So, what's the big deal here?"
"I'll go to my office," Yuugi said, assuming that the two brothers wanted to talk in private. By retreating, he hoped to calm himself down before he blurted out something that he would regret even more. "If you'll excuse me…"
"Oh no, Yuugi, stay! I haven't seen you in so long. Everything okay with Jounouchi and the others?"
"Yes, certainly," Yuugi beamed in return. He loved talking about his friends and he ignored a groaning Kaiba who buried his head into his hands. Quickly, he brought Mokuba up to speed about his friends and his own life, talking about the upcoming addition to the family.
"Wow, the third one already," Mokuba said. He looked over his shoulder at his brother, who was pointedly tapping on his watch. "Quit it, nii-sama, you don't have any more meetings for the day. Don't be so rude."
Only Mokuba got away with his life saying that, and Yuugi couldn't help but chuckle at the look on Kaiba's face.
"So, you were yelling about your third kid, Yuugi?"
"The adoption procedure went much quicker than we expected," Yuugi said. "Mou hi.. I mean, Atemu-san didn't think either that it would go so fast! We have to be at the agency next week, so I was requesting your brot.. Kaiba-kun to start my paternity leave…"
"Oh I get it, it coincides with the convention," Mokuba was quick to figure the problem out. He frowned. "Well, it would be in KaibaCorp.'s best interests to have the head designer and developer present. I see your point, nii-sama."
"Well, it's about time someone did," Kaiba snorted.
"I said that I saw your point, not that I agreed with it." Mokuba jumped off the desk and walked towards Yuugi, whose shoulders had slumped. "It would also be in Yuugi's best interests to be present at the moment he and Atemu will welcome their third child."
"You're way too mushy, Mokuba." Kaiba's voice didn't have any malice in it, and even the irritation seemed a bit fake. Who knew that his younger brother was such a weakness? Yuugi regretted the harsh words he had spoken earlier.
"Let's make a deal here," Mokuba winked at Yuugi. "What if we cram all your presentations and press conferences into two days, instead of four days of convention? That way you can be home with your kid, and fulfill your duties for Kaiba Corp.. How about that?"
"Deal," Yuugi said and reached out his hand. Mokuba was quick to grab it.
"I didn't agree to such a deal!" Kaiba bellowed from behind his desk. "One day to pick up the kid, three days at the convention! Three!"
"Too late, nii-sama," Mokuba stuck out his tongue, "as KaibaCorp.'s Vice President I have the official power to make deals like this. Unless you want to overrule my decision?"
"I didn't know you were going to law school, Mokuba-kun," Yuugi said.
"I'm not." Mokuba shrugged and made a quick face at Kaiba. "I haven't decided yet on what I'm going to do. Nii-sama thinks that law school is a good choice, but I don't know."
Yuugi knew a little about the Kaiba brothers' backstory, in which their adoptive father had been very cruel in his tutelage. Mokuba had been spared the harsh lessons his brother had to learn, and Yuugi was glad that Kaiba left Mokuba the freedom to make his own choices and follow his own dreams, instead of being forced into a certain direction. Kaiba pretended not to listen in on their conversation, but Yuugi could see how his fingers hovered over the keyboard, instead of typing away.
"Please accept my apologies, Kaiba-kun," Yuugi said again. "About what I said earlier."
It was typical of Kaiba to make a dismissive gesture with his hand. Mokuba clasped Yuugi at the shoulder.
"Thank you, Mokuba-kun."
"Don't worry about it," Mokuba said. "Give my regards to the gang when you see them again, okay?"
"Yes, I will," Yuugi said and thanked him once more, before taking his leave. It was a bummer that he still had to spend two days at the convention, but his paternity leave was granted, and that evened out the balance. He owed Mokuba big time.
Oshimuru was common ground. The adoption agency had proved to be very trustworthy, offering excellent advice and guidance before, during and after the adoption. After Tzuziko and Kazuo, Atemu's and Yuugi's excellent records spoke for themselves. Yuugi was glad that Oshimuru had so much faith in them. Despite all the praise for the agency, their interior decorator had taken a permanent leave of absence; the offices were still as depressing as ever with walls and floors painted dark grey, no plants, no piece of art on the walls, harsh, bright tube lights and the majority of the employees walking around with stern, overly calm and composed faces.
The letter that the agency had sent them only revealed the gender of the child and that her name was Akina. Mutou Akina, it sounded perfect to him. Ever since the later had arrived, Yuugi had grown nervous and excited, as The Day grew nearer. As always, Atemu was calm. The only thing giving his tension away was his overly rigid posture and his fingers smoothing out every non-existant wrinkle in his pants. Yuugi badly wanted to take Atemu's hand, to hug him, to comfort him as he needed comfort himself, but they had agreed on no public displays of affection. To the agency, Atemu was a single parent and Yuugi was his brother. It felt bad to lie, but to Yuugi, the end justified the means.
Atemu quickly rose to his feet, Yuugi following suit. They had arrived alone, leaving Tzuziko and Kazuo in the care of Yuugi's mother; ironically, Oshimuru wasn't a really kid-friendly environment. The case worker looked over the rim of her big glasses, an impatient scowl on her lips. A little hesitant, Atemu went into the office, almost afraid of hearing bad news. Yuugi followed him close.
In the woman's office, Atemu had to answer a few more questions and sign another stack of papers to make the adoption official. Yuugi kept himself calm by staring at a slightly darker dot on the wall, otherwise he would've bounced out of his chair by sheer anxiety. Finally, the door to the office went open again and another case worker came in with…
"She's a baby," Yuugi said and immediately he could slap himself silly.
"What else did you expect, Mutou-san?" This case worker was amused, a rare sight.
"Our previous children were already over twelve months old," he quickly explained, "we weren't counting on this young of a baby…but she's more than welcome, of course!"
She couldn't be over two months, Yuugi was sure of it. Atemu had never indicated any age preference. How could such a young baby be rewarded to them?
"Akina-chan was found on the doorstep," the case worker said as she laid the baby in Atemu's arms. Yuugi wondered how she could keep her voice so calm and emotionless like this, when confronted with such cruelty. "Mutou-san, you have excellent records, and when you indicated you wanted to start up another procedure, we knew that she was the one for you."
Atemu was already and completely sold. With the awe and love on his face, he looked wonderful.
"Thank you, thank you," he repeated. Yuugi felt bad that he had wanted to deny Atemu this at first. The former Pharaoh was so enamored with the baby that he didn't want to give her out of his hands. Slightly amused, Yuugi had to think back to the day when they had picked up Tzuziko and he hadn't been willing to part with the child, and Atemu had to drive home. Now the situation was reversed, but Yuugi was all too happy to whip out his car keys and leave the agency. It was time to go home.
The GameShop-turned-antiquity store building was still the home of the Mutou family. Yusuke was waiting outside, together with Tzuziko and Kazuo for the new addition to the family arrive.
"Yuugi-kun!" Yusuke hadn't expected her son to return home with a baby either, but smiled, immediately smitten. "I'm so glad to see everything went all right," she said, "there's tea and cake whenever you feel ready."
Yuugi nodded and followed Atemu upstairs to the bedroom they had prepared. Atemu had to make slight adjustments to the bed to suit the baby better. Tzuziko and Kazuo followed into the room, Kazuo complaining that he wanted cake now. Atemu put Akina in the bed, carefully lying her down.
Tzuziko inspected the baby, counted the fingers and toes, and marveled at how tiny she was. Kazuo spared Akina one look, snorted and kicked the bed. Yuugi quickly pulled him away but Atemu totally missed it.
"What do you think of your sister, Tzuziko-chan?" Yuugi asked.
"She's so tiny," Tzuziko said, looking over the thick frame of her glasses. "Was I that small too, Yami Papa?"
"You were once that small too," Atemu confirmed. She looked as if in horror, as she was taking pride in her height. She was slightly taller than the average girls in her classes.
"And you, Kazuo-kun?" Yuugi asked.
"Stupid girl,' Kazuo said. "Girls are stupid! I want cake!" He looked about ready to kick the bed again, but Yusuke was faster. Yuugi's mother had silently entered the room, not wanting to disturb the peaceful scenery.
"Why don't we go ahead, Kazuo-kun," she said and coaxed the boy out of the room. "You can help me with serving!"
Atemu was taking the baby in, his slender fingers trailing Akina's soft cheek. Yuugi let him be. He didn't know why he was so…aloof all of the sudden. Akina had stolen his heart, no doubt about it, but for some reason he couldn't muster up the energy and the enthusiasm. Yuugi felt ashamed. How could this be? He loved his children, all of his children, so much…but he couldn't bring himself to touch the baby. So he left the touching and cuddling to Atemu, who seemed to be very satisfied. Tzuziko was watching, also taking in every movement and every reaction of the baby in a scientific-interest-kind-of-way.
By all means, it should've been a tranquil and peaceful picture, but Yuugi felt suddenly like the third wheel, superfluous. He sneaked out of the room and went down the stairs, where he saw his mother and Kazuo busy with the cake and tea. He wasn't feeling any for it, but his mother just looked at him, locking her eyes with his. There was no judgment or condemnation in her eyes, just a soft, knowing smile on her face. She didn't press him to sit down and have tea, figuring he wanted to be left alone for now. Yuugi was grateful. He just needed a few minutes to himself.
If Atemu had already noticed Yuugi's sudden sullenness, he didn't let it show. That evening, he promptly fell asleep sooner than Yuugi; a rare occasion. It was strange to hear Atemu snore softly while he, Yuugi, was awake. He stared in front of him, the moonlight seeping in through the window, and he didn't know what or how he was feeling. It was some kind of embarrassment, and it weighed heavy on him. He wanted to feel happiness, not this heavy weight on his shoulders.
"You look great, Anzu," Yuugi said as he embraced her. The hug went a little awkward, as she was in the latest term of her pregnancy and her belly was huge.
"I know what you're thinking, and no, I'm not expecting twins," she said. She winked at Yuugi with that flirty tone that was so common between them. Anzu pointed at the delicious cake on the plate in front of her, with an enormous topping of whipped cream. "I'm expecting extra pounds," she joked, "because I've been really letting myself go. I had to watch everything I ate so strictly while at dance school, that I don't care right now."
"And what if you've gotten the baby?" Yuugi asked.
"I must get myself back into shape, of course," Anzu said and helped herself to even more whipped cream. "I do want to get back to dancing."
"I'm sure your comeback will be glorious," Yuugi said.
"Can you believe it? Only 28 and talking about a comeback," Anzu said demurely. She smiled though, indicating that she wasn't very serious at the moment. Yuugi snickered and picked up his cup of tea. "But I'm sure that my dancing wasn't the point of you visiting me," she said, in all seriousness. Yuugi didn't bother to hide it. They were best friends after all. Anzu had noticed that special tone in Yuugi's voice when he had called, and she had made sure that he could see her as soon as possible, and that they wouldn't be interrupted.
"I feel very ashamed," Yuugi said as he looked at his tea cup, "because I don't feel much joy when it comes to the baby. I'm afraid… I'm afraid that I'm going to end up like my father, not caring, and not being there for the kids."
"Do you wish you hadn't gone through with the adoption after all?" Anzu asked.
"No!" Yuugi shot up straight in his chair.
"That's enough answer for you," Anzu smiled. "If you were really regretting the adoption, you wouldn't have said 'no'. I don't think your problem is as much as with Akina arriving, but probably with your own position in the family," she said. "You feel the responsibility, and you want to take care of them all. Or are you feeling left out, because of Atemu taking care of the kids and you spending time at the office?"
"A little, yes," Yuugi admitted. It was of no use to lie about that. The two days at the convention had been hell, he had longed to be at home so much. "I love him with all my heart and soul. I love my children with heart and soul. I'm afraid of missing out. Maybe I'm jealous. Maybe I do want to say "screw you and your job, Kaiba-kun" and quit."
Anzu reached over the table to pat his hand. "You know that quitting isn't an option, Yuugi," she said. "Atemu-san's antiquity store isn't profitable enough, and well, you do have a large family to feed." She patted her own belly. "I understand, of course. I have talked about this to Warimi, and he says the same thing as you. Constantly being at work, afraid of missing out, wondering if he'll ever be a good father…"
"My father doesn't even bother to call," Yuugi said. "With all these modern means of communication, he still doesn't stay in touch!"
Anzu shook her head. "You're not your father. You don't look like him in the least! You fulfill your responsibility as head of the family, you take responsibility. I don't know what happened to your father either, Yuugi. It must be so hard for your mother."
"She barely mentions him anymore." Yuugi kept staring at his tea. "I enjoy my work so much, I love what I do for a living, despite the stress, despite the tension, despite the deadlines… but when I come home, I see a tired boyfriend and the kids are already in bed. I get only to hear the stories about destruction, mayhem…"
"And love and sharing and fun," Anzu said. Yuugi nodded. He felt like he was going to cry. Anzu hadn't let go of his hand. "You're there for them when it counts, Yuugi. When it really matters, and that's the most important thing. You're there for them in your free time and the weekends, but you're also there - you were there when Tzuziko won that science fair for children under the age of 10. You were there for Kazuo's first swimming lesson. You were there at their first day of school. Don't sell yourself short, Yuugi. You're doing the best you can, with all the responsibilities and obligations you have."
"Then why am I having so much trouble..? I mean, Akina is such a lovely, good baby, she's perfect, and I just can't muster up the energy to hold her."
"I'm not a professional psychologist," Anzu said. "I think you still need to settle in now that the family dynamics have changed again. I also think there's nothing wrong with consulting a professional if you keep feeling this way. Please Yuugi, promise me that you'll keep talking about it, instead of closing yourself off. No one should have to deal with such feelings all on his own. You've talked to Atemu-san about it?"
"I don't dare," Yuugi whispered. "He's so happy, Anzu. He's so in love, with Akina, with me, with the family. I don't want to bother him with this. I don't want him to be disappointed with me."
"I do believe he's going to be rather disappointed if the man he loves, doesn't confide in him," Anzu said briskly. Yuugi had to agree. He had never kept something from Atemu, and it was never a good time to start. "I appreciate that you want to share with me," she continued, "but he needs to know, Yuugi. It wouldn't be fair."
"Maybe I just need a little rest."
"Don't try to change the topic, Mutou Yuugi. You're not crafty enough."
"Thank you," Yuugi said. "For listening to me."
"Anytime." She let go of his hand, after another pat. "You can talk to me anytime about anything, you know that. I want you to keep talking, no wallowing in silence, got it?"
"Got it!" He beamed at her and drank the last of his tea, that had gotten cold during the conversation. Anzu returned the smile, putting her hand on her belly.
"No one said that life was easy," she said, voice soft. "But we can make it easier for ourselves, sharing with our friends and family."
"Sharing with our friends and family," Yuugi repeated. His confidence was boosted. When it was time to go home, he would come home open to his family, trusting and putting his faith in the future.