X

H

X

We fell to the mattress; her hands at my neck, grasped, yanked pulled open the shirt I had chosen so carefully. We met at the mouth, hips, thighs. I tugged the zip down the length of her spine, pushed straps from her shoulders, trailed my hands, felt for every curve and corner, mapped out lost journeys across her flesh. I inhaled remembrance; I exhaled with a shudder. She held me tightly to her. Nails along my back, fingers through my hair.

Together we moved in serpentine lines. Together we breathed in artless syncopation. Together we ached and shivered and gasped and found ourselves… found, in the quiet that followed, a wonder and a safety, ancient and familiar.

She kept me in an unyielding embrace into the early morning. When exhaustion threatened, slackening her arms, I watched her look up sleepily. And she smiled.

"I love you too," she said.

"Don't forget it."

"I can't. However much I've tried…"

She replaced her head on my chest.

"Will you be my housewife?" she said.

"You still have a husband."

"Details, details…" she murmured to the air, "Haruka…?"

"Mm?"

"On our way to my apartment… let's pick up some of your things."

"Hmm.. I thought I was fast…"

"Just a few things…" she yawned disarmingly. "Whatever isn't tied down…"

X X X X X

A few things became the contents of my home. Her apartment became ours, and in time we packed that up again for a house a little larger, somewhere with space for Kuri and Kaede to play when they were over… which was most of the time. My odd timetable meant I was more flexible with school pick-ups. Swimming lessons. Art classes. Volleyball practice…

A truce of varying stability was reached with Michiru's mother; Shun turned out to be an okay guy… at least he lived up to not tying us up in court cases. Guess he loved those kids too much to put 'em through it. Guess we all did. Kaede grew to look more and more like her mother, while cultivating an unusual interest in motor vehicles. Unusual. Who was I to judge?

And so it was, on a summery Saturday, that I sat by the edge of the lawn on a property paid for with race money and watched the kids. Kuriko had taken up gymnastics and was attempting to guide Kaede in the art of handstands. It was a hopeless exercise, but the passing years had seen Kuri grow more patient with her sister. Still had that wicked sense of humor though. Michiru came out from the house and sat beside me, resting her head on my shoulder.

"Seems like only yesterday they were small enough to carry around…"

"Ah," I smiled, "You just need to work on your upper body strength."

"Oh? You would complain about my body?"

"Never." I turned to kiss her, then saw the magazine in her hands. The suspicious magazine in her hands. "What's an IVF… it doesn't sound like an engine…?"

"Fertility treatment."

"Eh?"

"It's quite common, you know? A little pricey but… Oh, Haruka, it would mean I could have your baby…!"

"What?"

"Well, we'd get a donor, I suppose… my male counterpart-"

"I think we'd struggle to find a man who looked anything like you."

"Ara, you know what I mean."

"…It sounds like you mean to have three children with three different mothers… I don't know, Ms. Kaioh, people may start to talk…"

"They started talking long ago." She grabbed my arm. "Haruka, just think about it. A little girl, a little version of you!"

"… that's what I'm afraid of."

"Oh, just think how cute she'd be!"

"It would be a boy."

"Why must you argue?"

"The premonition fairy." I said. "The premonition fairy knows all."

Fin.

Oh, but the Prince? Right, so the silver-suited Prince, who was charming and gallant and… monogamous, sought out the beautiful musician. With the bravery of ten thousand men he confessed his love. With the talent of ten million women, she returned it. Together they enjoyed hours and hours in the royal chamber… after that he really had no choice but to marry her.

When the musician arrived at the finest shrine in the kingdom, dressed in a most stunning and ornately decorated wedding gown, (one you might describe at length to a small child) the Prince knew he had become King. He could feel it in his swelling, rather handsome chest; he could see it in her lovely, tear-stained face. Together they ruled their people justly and fearlessly. Together they were able to traverse the globe, though oddly, never feel they had left home at all.

This story of the King and his Queen was told many times over. And though in retelling it grew more complex, a Chinese whisper carried by the tongues of strangers, the core of the story remained true.

It is a story of the ties that are broken, those with safety, with reason and the many myths of normality. It is a story of the ties that must re-grow and replace. It is a story, far stretching, ever evolving and long laced through time.

This is the same story known by all great lovers of the world.