Well, here I am again... I just can't seem to leave this fandom well enough. :D

This is written partly in response to Anonymousness' awesome fic, "Where Black Met Gold", although it can also be read as an alternate "What-if" canon. The story calls to light some really pertinent issues b/w Saya's relationships with both Haji and Solomon, which inspired me to do some of my own personal musings. Suppose Saya and Haji were an item after the war ended, but Saya bypassed Haji and married Solomon instead? Suppose she wound up carrying his children and traveling the world with him? What would their marriage be like? What sort of issues would they face?

Personally, I enjoy the idea of both SayaxSolomon and SayaxHaji, but I have a bias toward the latter; I don't think Solomon is really the right choice for Saya. In the series, it's clear the poor guy loves her, but love doesn't always guaruntee happiness. Or suitability.

Spoilers ahoy for a greater part of the series. Fans of both pairings are welcome to comment. But flames will just get ya reported. Fair's fair. :P

NOTE: Edited as of March 2010. Nothing major. Just spelling errors and sentence reformation. If you notice, good for you. If not, it makes no difference plot-wise either way.

I do not own Blood Plus and make no profit out of torturing its characters.


Present moment...


She sees herself shielded in a bubble.

Curled fetal and motionless, a baby in the womb. Heartbeat resonant, the only sound she can focus on, its dull tempo like a beacon in a tempest.

There is blackness all around her, murky malignant darkness of nightmare. Thoughts crashing against her with livid violence, splattering to shards, rocking but never touching her. The bubble holds her enclosed, protected behind a barrier that is neither comforting nor unbreakable.

Simply…sufficient.

It is a barrier built upon her nerves, her own endurance. The ocean is her past, jostling her every direction, with no way to escape.

Hold on, she tells herself.

Just hold on.

It's going to be all right.

A sudden bump rattles her awake. The floating bubble, the crashing black ocean, dribbles away. She hears the drumbeat of her heart, melting away amid the roar of engines. The sound is overlapped by hissing air-conditioners and droning voices. A dim orange glow on her closed eyelids suggests a light is shining on her.

Groggy, Saya opens her swollen eyes.

She sits in an airplane, speedily bound to Japan. Pressed against the window seat, a drowsing old couple at her left.

The aged lady snores softly, hands folded primly across her lap. At her side, her husband's head droops, mouth open. Saya watches from the corner of her eye, half-afraid his dentures will slide out from between his lips.

The seatbelt sign above lights up. A crackling voice intones that they will be landing at Naha airport soon.

She rubs her aching eyes. At her side, the window is a luminous circle, bright with dawn sunlight. Clouds float outside, bouffant puffs of cream. The plane is nearing its destination; she can sense it, like an eminent tug all through her bones. She is heading back to Okinawa—home, to Kai and the others.

A haven where she might just be able to rest, get a chance to reorient her own jagged thoughts.

Come to a decision.

I never imagined it would be like this, she thinks blearily. I never thought it would end up this way.

The tears dripping from her eyes are helpless, squeezed out as though with a dropper. Her head aches from all the crying—she's wept unceasingly the past few weeks, both inside and out—yet it seems that her body can still produce tears in infinite capacities.

It seems like the only emotion she's capable of anymore.

She feels the sudden pressure of a kick, like a sharp hiccough. Her hands move of their own accord, to the tight-stretched belly under her black sweater. Despite her tears, she manages a wavery smile.

One of her unborn twins is feeling frisky again.

Dimly, she wonders if they can sense her moods. A mother's body is nothing more than a siphon to her child's, after all.

But in this case, she desperately hopes not. What a terrible thing it would be, to be born unhappy into this life. If anything, babies are entitled their joy, because they really are the only pure things alive in this world.

Everything else is so steeped in dissolution.

Her own life constantly seems the best example.

Saya winces, shifting in her seat. Her back aches, the pain mounting with each passing hour. Her distended belly feels like a ball-and-chain, weighing both on her tiny frame, and on the wilting foundation of her nerves. She's in the final term of pregnancy—and the imminent childbirth is taking its toll on her, mentally and physically.

She should be in a hospital right now. Or at the most, at home, resting.

This was the mantra the airline staff trilled when they first saw her, pale and puffy-eyed, with just a carry-on at her shoulder, boarding the plane. The same chorus recited by the travel agency—shocked when Saya burst into their office, a red-eyed young woman cradling a nine-month belly, demanding a one-way plane ticket to Okinawa.

"Miss, we really advise you not to travel in your condition," the female clerk interposed. "In case of an emergency—"

"Oh, way to reassure the customer!" Saya was too tangled in wild desperation to be polite anymore. Her one thought, gnawing at her whole body like acid, was to escape. Get away, get away fast—before the babies were born.

Because if they were born here…if she stayed here a minute longer…with him

No.

No no no.

I have to get out of here. I can't go on like this.

Reaching out across the counter, she seized the clerk's arm in a vise-like grip. Her voice was not a plea, but a command. "I need tickets to Okinawa. The soonest flight. First-class or economy, I don't care. But I need them right now!"

"Miss, please! I'm afraid I can't—"

Saya fixed the indignant woman with the same will-bending glare she'd worn during the ghastly years of the war—living on the edge of the blade, guided by instinct.

"I can pay my way for this trip, and I'm not going to give birth during take-off. So give. Me. The. Tickets."

With every word, her hand tightened on her victim's arm.

The woman, ashen, nodded.

Four hours later, Saya was zooming back to Japan, teeth gritted, tears boiling behind her eyes, arms wrapped tight across her belly like a pair of crossed swords on a coat of arms.

Realistically, she knows the staff's fears are justified—she might well go into labor right aboard the plane. Hadn't the doctors predicted that the birth was within this week? And even then, it is impossible to ignore the babies rolling around inside her, jostling her ribs, battering at her intestines as they signal their impending arrival into the world.

Her whole body is rife with congestion, a voluminous stoppered container of water; every sharp movement marches red spots before her eyes. Nausea rises, coating the back of her throat like slime.

Pre-eclampsia… pre-eclampsia… chants a warning singsong voice. Better watch out. With all the stress you're putting yourself in, I'm amazed you haven't miscarried yet…

Shut up, Saya tells the voice savagely. Just shut up.

The babies jolt at her spine, the movement sharp as a spasm. She squeezes her eyes shut.

I am not going to lose it. I'm going to make it back to Okinawa in one piece.

It's going to be all right.

She knows full-well the risks of traveling in this state—but she has never been one for meticulous planning. Patience is not in her matrix—action is.

And right now, she is swamped in the need to escape, get away as fast as possible.

She prays that she will be able to hold on until she has reached Omoro. No one there knows she's coming; she'll have to find a cab and get there on her own. She knows her family must be worried about her; she hasn't been in contact with them for several weeks now. She's half-terrified that the babies might come tumbling out before she can get there—her own body, always so reliable, has been betraying her since the pregnancy.

And she's equally terrified that her husband will find her before her family does.

Solomon…

Ohgod.

Already, his memory makes her flinch, induces her with the shrinking guilt of a child who has run away from home and will be severely berated when caught. The recollection of his voice, his face, makes her feel ambivalent and puerile, unsure of her plans, even her own sanity.

But then, he's always had the overwhelming ability to muddle her judgement.

His presence awakens in her the same instincts of oblivion as her yearnings for death, back in the war.

During those nights, she had hoped, with the ruthless immovability of a martyr, to end her life once she'd killed Diva. It had been like her safety net—the one thing she had to fall back upon. She'd yearned for it without joy or expectation; just this thoughtless yearning without meaning.

She'd wanted to die after her mission was over, and the knowledge was a morbid solace.

But she's still alive right now. Still a part of this world. And to stay with a man whose very presence blots out her sense of self—whose mere voice manages to strip her of all logic, lulling her with into that same daze she was lulled toward death…

No.

That isn't living at all.

She isn't sure what it is; her feelings for him, barbed and outsized and transfixing, still overwhelm her—but they have nothing to do with the prerequisites, the essentialities of living.

Deliria and fantasy never can coexist with waking life.

She's learnt this the hard way.

On instinct, Saya's hand closes about the amulet that hangs from a fine silver chain at her throat. A bloodstone, vibrant green speckled with red. A symbol of protection, a fighter's talisman. The stone is cool and hard, reassuring in her grasp. She battens, not so much on its symbolism, as on the memory it calls to mind.

This is the necklace Haji gave to her, before she married Solomon.

A wedding present for the woman he loved, who had bypassed him in favor of another man.

Tears sting Saya's closed eyes, in tandem with the hot ache in her throat.

Haji…

Even now—especially now—thinking about him makes her ache. A palpable, overwhelming ache, a slash to her heart. But the pain is activating; it makes her want to move forward, to shake off this desolation and see her journey to its end.

Even absent, his memory draws her into battle, urging her to fight.

To live.

To live in this life means to endure, Saya thinks. It means to struggle and fight.

All this time, I thought I was free of it. But I'm not. I've just been running from it all this time. I've been letting illusions and fantasy rule my life for me, because I'm afraid to live it on my own. I'm too scared to face the truth for what it really is.

Because when I do, I'll have to face up to my past too.

Her fingers tighten on the bloodstone. Her own pulse hammers hard against her temples.

All these months, I've been subsisting on limbo, trying to escape reality.

But I can't escape it.

I can't hold it off anymore.

Harsh awareness crashes all around her, everything she has been circumventing, delaying the past few months, exploding to drown her.

She is assaulted by total recall, so analogous to Life.

So this is why children cry when they come out of the womb. They've been spending all those months protected from the rest of the world. But the protection can't last forever. Sooner or later, you'll have to breathe and fight, all on your own.

That's what you're here for.

That's what living is all about.

She understands this at last, and feels a bitter upsurge at how long it took her. Because if she'd acknowledged it sooner, this entire debacle could've been prevented. There's so much she wouldn't have to go through—not just her, but Solomon, the rest of her family.

And most of all, Haji, whom she would never have let down.

Tears burn behind her closed eyes.

I'm so sorry, Haji. I'm so sorry I abandoned you.

I didn't understand why I needed you before—but I do now, I do…

She can only pray that Haji will understand this too, and find it in his heart to forgive her.

Abruptly, she feels a sharp spasm against her belly. She grits her teeth until the tremor dissipates. But it only gives way to another, then another. Harder, fiercer than the usual discomfort she's accustomed to. An uncomfortable warmth begins to pool her dark slacks. Saya winces; the color of her clothing makes it hard to tell whether it is blood or worse.

She wants to go to the bathroom to check—but she cannot make herself move. Her whole body, heavy and torpid and gripped by an unshakeable agony, refuses to budge

It is only when the second spasm hits her that she feels a cold chill.

Ohgod no.

Please don't let anything happen in here. I'm almost at Okinawa. I'm nearly there.

I just have to hold on a little longer.

I can still make it.

Gripping the bloodstone between numb fingertips, Saya has no choice but to gnash her teeth and wait.


Y'know, if your kids are born on a plane, they get to travel via that airline for free? :D

Anyway, one thing I should note is that soap-opera-ish drama isn't a preference of mine, but they say you should try everything at least once, so I'll be giving it a whack alot in this fic. Let me know what you think.

Reviews make me smile.