"What are you reading?"
Ai, now eight months pregnant, was lying in her bed to give her feet some rest. Arisu was sitting in the reading chair by the window. She had been sitting there all morning while Ai was working, but Ai's curiosity had now taken the best of her and she had put her papers down.
"I can see that. What kind of book smarty-pants?"
Arisu blushed but showed her the title.
"Introduction to psychology?"
"I want to help people and I think I could do this well."
Ai smiled warmly to the girl.
"I think you will be an excellent therapist."
The girl smiled back. You could easily see her pride.
Ai really did a good job with her.
Kyoya smiled from the door and glanced to the girl standing next to him. She too was looking at the couple and pressing her book, open, towards her chest.
With both of them.
"What's wrong Chieko?"
Chieko looked startled at him before calming down and looking away.
"Don't lie. What's wrong?"
The girl looked at the people in the room.
"They sure look close."
What is it with these girls and insecurity?
"Yes they are close, but no closer than you and Ai."
"That's not true."
She was crying.
"Dad never hit me. He hit Ai, and he hit Arisu when Ai was gone, but he never hit me. They made sure of that."
"You know, some would have said that was a good thing."
"I'm the youngest. I was always the one protected, and that cut me away from the ones protecting me."
If she only knew.
"Chieko you are as loved and as close to Ai as Arisu is. Not in the same way, but just as much. And there are things you and Ai share that Arisu do not."
"Arisu can't cook. You can."
A smile. A tiny laughing smile that softened her face.
"But who would she forget first, Arisu or me?"
"Me. Now go in there and show her what ever you wanted to show her."
The girl looked at him for a moment, before smiling wider and running into the room.
"Don't run inside Chieko, you're 15, not five."
Ai smiled to Chieko as she jumped into the bed and showed proudly her latest creation. Both Ai and Arisu gawked over her drawing, praising it, and Kyoya found himself too filled with pride. Ai looked over the twins head and caught his eyes. Her mouth formed the words.
Then she turned her attention to the twins as they placed all hands on her stomach, wanting to feel the babies kick. She was back, and Kyoya found a sensation of calmness come over him. A calmness he hadn't noticed she had given him until it had vanished and come back again.
"Merci Jules. Au revoir."
"Everything fine Ai-chan?"
Ai looked over to the two men sitting by the table and smiled to them.
"Wonderful. That was Mr Thownsend, in Paris."
"It's not as bad as I thought it would be. Some of the damage I have to do in person, so I have to wait until they"
She motioned to her stomach.
"come out, but I think it's going to be okay."
With the support I'm getting from everyone, of course it's going to be okay.
The two men smiled. Ai shifted in the chair and motioned to get up. She was moving less and less and was now only waiting for it all to be over and done with. Mori came over and helped her to her feet.
Suddenly the door opened and Mana came running in.
"Mana what is it?"
"The Hitachiin building, it collapsed. Chieko…"
"Is she okay?"
The woman looked pained.
"They don't know. They are helping the people out now."
"Get the car ready."
The woman nodded and ran out again. Ai couldn't breath, and leaned on Mori as a pain made her entire body shake.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine Takashi."
Please, not now. Please.
"Let us through."
"Madam I can't let anyone through. I'm sorry."
"My name is Mrs Ootori, let me through now."
The guard looked unsure of what he could do as Ai suddenly saw Kaoru wave at her. Ai just passed the guard without caring about him yelling, letting Mori and Honey take care of him.
Kaoru pointed to his twin who was carrying the girl in his arms towards them. All three of them were badly bruised and covered in dust. Ai ran over and carefully touched the girls face.
Slowly she opened her eyes, and Ai's tears started to run down her face and her lungs started to breath again.
"Yes darling, I'm here."
Hikaru placed her on the ground and Ai hugged her tight.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Hikaru saved me."
Ai looked up at the man and smiled.
He just smiled back and Ai let go of the girl.
"You still need to be checked out. Hikaru, Kaoru, when you are done here be sure to get yourselves checked out as well. I'll call Kyoya and have him prepare."
The boys just nodded. Suddenly the pain she had been feeling with shorter and shorter intervals almost forced her to her knees.
"Are you okay Ai?"
Kaoru was holding her, the only thing not making her fall to the ground. Quickly Honey and Mori were by her side as well.
"I think you're in labour Ai-chan."
"I can't be. It's too early."
Just to spite her, her water broke.
"How are they?"
Kyoya looked up as Haruhi entered the clean white room.
"Ai's sleeping. The boy too."
"And this is?"
Haruhi sat down next to him and the tiny girl he was holding. A white lily was decorating the blanket.
He smiled down to the child again as she squinted up at her father.
"When are you leaving?"
"We'll miss you."
Haruhi looked shocked at him.
"You should be careful doctor, you're getting soft."
He gave her his devil work and she started to laugh.
"Okay, fine. I was wrong. You're just yourself."
He turned back to his daughter and a gentile quietness came over the group.
"How are Kaoru and Hikaru?"
"They're fine. Chieko too. The building has been cleared and there were no fatalities. The twins are down there now overlooking the clean up."
Again the silence wrapped itself around them.
Haruhi laughed again.
"What's else to expect from the shadow king?"
Suddenly the door opened and Kyoya's father stepped in. Both Kyoya and Haruhi got to their feet.
"Kyoya. Ms Fuijoka."
He looked over to the bed where Ai was still sleeping.
"How is she?"
"And this is?"
He gestured to Yuri.
"The oldest. Yuri."
"And the youngest?"
"A boy, Isao."
"A fitting name for a boy. For the girl too."
Silence, but this time it was pressing and heavy.
"I'm naming you as my successor Kyoya."
"I'll talk to you later Kyoya."
Haruhi walked quickly out of the room.
"When you where young you had to hold yourself back and just barley let your brothers succeed you, and with her…"
He looked warmly at her.
"Both of you have grown, so much even your brothers finally saw what a threat you two were. I'm happy she managed."
His father gave a look of disapproving.
"Of course I knew Kyoya."
A new silence. The girl fell a sleep and he placed her next to her younger brother.
"She was without merit, without family, without honour."
He looked at her again.
"But I was wrong. She is a good business woman, a good person, and she will do you good in life."
He turned and started to go.
"I will talk to you on Monday Kyoya."
The door closed behind him.