For disclaimers, please see part I.
I do believe that the plotbunnies and some of you guys are conspiring against me. But since you asked and the bunnies kept nibbling at me, here's another part. Enjoy.
Thank you for reading.
Show and Tell
"Natsuki..." Shizuru only barely managed to keep from rolling her eyes as she found herself in an almost ridiculously plush corner of the couch. "I promise you, I'm perfectly fine. I doubt that any terrible fate is going to befall me in Mai-han's living room."
"The majority of all accidents happen at home," Natsuki muttered stubbornly as she found another pillow and brought it over. "Want this?"
"Oh, will you leave the poor woman alone?" Mai used to her free hand to yank the pillow out of the blunette's hands and bopped her on the head with it. "She already has half a dozen of these things propping her up – are you trying to make it impossible for her to get on her feet?"
"Of course not!" Natsuki crossed her arms with a huff. "I just..." She paused and gave her lover a beseeching glance. "I..."
Shizuru beckoned the younger woman closer, and her lips curved in an understanding smile as Natsuki knelt down next to her and captured her hand between her own. A quick glance up was met with a smile from Mai, and Shizuru returned it before the redhead silently excused herself and left the room with her infant son in her arms.
"Natsuki." She consciously gentled her voice and waited for the green eyes to meet her own. When they did, her heart gave a little startle at the almost lost look in them, and she threaded her fingers with her lover's. "I realize that you want to look after me, darling, and I love you dearly for it."
"Mm." Natsuki exhaled slowly through her nose and closed her eyes for a few seconds while visibly calming herself. "But I'm being an overly solicitous ninny and a pain in the butt, aren't I?"
"Overly solicitous, perhaps." Shizuru cupped one pale cheek and smiled. "Never a pain. But our daughter is playing in the yard with her uncle, and I'm sure they would both be very glad to have you join them. I know that you will enjoy their roughhousing far more than you would sitting still in here with Mai-han and I."
"I know." Natsuki gave her hand a squeeze. "And I'm sorry for being such a worrywart," she added with wry humor. "I can't help it, though. It's like the closer you get to full term, the closer I get to the border of insanity."
"Fine." She got a dry look. "Further beyond. Whatever."
"I'm merely making sure that we are on the same page, darling." Shizuru traced her thumb over a smooth cheekbone. "Now give me a kiss and go play with the children."
A smirk. "Reito won't like that nickname."
"I think he would prefer being called a child over me convincing Yori-kun to repay the camera-favor in a few years time."
"True." Natsuki chuckled and leaned in, and they spent a few seconds in leisurely exploration before the younger woman pulled back and sighed. "Okay. I'll get out of your hair. Yell if you need me, alright?"
"I will." She watched her go, and only turned her head when she heard footsteps approaching from the kitchen.
"She really is all up in arms these days, isn't she?" Mai wondered as she took a seat on the couch as well and settled Yori in her lap. "Want to get rid of some of those pillows?"
"Yes, please." Shizuru shook her head in wry amusement and helped the redhead extract a few of the fluffy items until she no longer felt as if she was drowning in them. "And yes, she is almost fanatically overprotective, but it's too adorable for me to really mind it."
Mai chuckled while Yori chewed on the floppy ear of a stuffed dragon and peered calmly at her. "I bet you're being spoiled, aren't you?"
"Absolutely rotten." She tickled one of the baby's feet and smiled as he kicked at the air. "Last week I tried to convince her that I wasn't made of glass, and she told me in no uncertain terms that I most assuredly was. Imported, hand-blown glass, at that."
"Aaaa!" Yori warbled in apparent agreement.
The two women laughed, and the little boy gave his mother a toothless grin and offered her the ear of his dragon.
"No thanks, sweetie. You can keep that," Mai told him with a tender smile, and shook her head as her son laughed and proceeded to gum the toy cheerfully. "I swear he understands everything I say."
Shizuru chortled softly, and nodded when Mai gave her a questioning look. Soon, Yori was nestled comfortably in the crook of her elbow; large, violet eyes staring at her from under a thick, smooth layer of pitch-black hair.
"Ara, Yori-kun." She stroked the boy's cheek with one finger and smiled when his tiny hand closed around it with surprising strength. "You're going to break just as many hearts as your Papa did in his day, aren't you?"
"Bck." Yori smacked his lips together and blinked at her.
"Not intentionally, if I have anything to say about it," was his mother's wry comment.
Shizuru giggled and glanced up. "I doubt that any heartbreak Reito-han was the cause of was intentional," she offered. "He doesn't seem the type to play with people in that regard."
"No, he doesn't," Mai agreed with a smile, and then turned slightly in her seat to better face her. "Shizuru-san... before I forget."
"Do you have anything planned for Natsuki's birthday?"
"Well, I've bought her presents, certainly," she replied. "Although getting her to actually leave the house on her own long enough for that was a mission that required about as much planning as the invasion of Normandy."
The redhead smirked and ran a few gentle fingers through her son's dark hair. "Somehow, that doesn't surprise me."
"I doubt it surprises anyone, at this stage," Shizuru noted dryly, and the two of them shared a smile. "But to answer your question, Mai-han – no, I haven't planned anything concrete aside from the presents and a few... ah, extra surprises. I do still have a couple of weeks, though."
"Surprises, eh?" Now Mai looked intrigued. "Care to elaborate on that?"
"Certainly." Shizuru inclined her head in agreement. "But I'll have to ask you to have a seat on the table first."
The other woman gave her a curious look, but obligingly rose and perched on the edge of the low table in front of her instead. "Here?"
"Quite." Shizuru smiled and straightened in her own seat as much as she could, and adjusted her hold on Yori until the boy was settled more along her side and less over her stomach. "Now, place one hand over Katsuo and one over Manami, if you will."
"Alright." Mai did as asked, and took the time to smile at her son as as he clapped his hand against the back of hers and burbled. "Now what?"
"Say her name."
"Pardon?" The redhead blinked. "Say whose name?"
Mai was silent for a few seconds, and then frowned. "You mean Natsuki?"
Shizuru held back a laugh as the other woman visibly startled.
"That did not just happen," Mai accused.
"It most certainly did," the brunette assured her. "Try again."
"Aaa!" Yori cheered and thumped his own hand against the side of Shizuru's belly.
Mai, meanwhile, stared first at her own hands, and then up at her. "They know her name?" she half-whispered.
"Better than that," Shizuru corrected with a soft smile. "They know who she is."
"You move! I'm already cramped!"
"Nuh-uh! You have more room than I do and I wanna stretch!"
"You're being mean! I'm telling Mama!"
"The last time you told Mama something, you kicked her squishy thing and made her sad."
"I didn't mean to." I frown and sigh, then move over a little. "Fine. But I can't get any further away now."
"That's okay." Manami stretches as much as she can. It isn't a whole lot. "We're gonna run out of room in here soon."
"Yeah." I look around and curl up a little to find a comfortable spot. "You think Mama can make this place grow bigger?"
"No." She shakes her head. "I don't think she wants to, anyway. She doesn't like how big it is now."
"'Kaa-san says Mama is pretty, though," I remember. "A lot of times, too. Last time she said that Mama was glowing."
"Yeah!" Manami nods. "And that her eyes looked like really pretty rubies."
"What's a ruby?"
"I dunno. What's a glowing?"
"I dunno. But I bet they're both really pretty."
"'Cause 'Kaa-san said so."
"Oh." Can't argue with that. "Yeah, I guess you're right."
"Mm." Manami yawns. "I'm tired."
I am too. Maybe it's because Mama is sleeping. She gets tired pretty easily right now, so she sleeps a lot. Sometimes it's alone, but I like it better when 'Kaa-san sleeps next to her. She always holds Mama real close and makes her a lot more relaxed, and she strokes her hand over both mine and Manami's head too. It feels really nice. Sometimes Nee-chan sleeps next to them and rests her heads right above ours, and 'Kaa-san calls it a 'pile of family'.
"What's a family?"
"I think..." She rubs her hands over her eyes and curls up a little. "That family is like... you and me, and Mama and 'Kaa-san and Nee-chan. A bunch of people who love each other."
"Oh." That makes sense, I guess. "Manami?" I just barely manage to get her name out around a yawn.
"I like family." I close my eyes. "It feels all nice and warm."
"I am as big as a house."
Even though the voice was soft in deference to the late hour and the dark room, Natsuki easily picked it up.
"Huh?" She raised herself up on one elbow and cupped the shadowy outline of Shizuru's face. "Where did that come from?"
The chestnut head turned towards her, and she watched the small, wry smile come forth. "From my sense of realism," the other woman replied. "Honestly, Natsuki... you might as well be married to a beached whale."
"Hm." She thought back to her own pregnancy with Aimi – a collection of experiences she'd often drawn from over the past seven months, and nuzzled her nose against her lover's cheek. "Well, I'm not." Her lips brushed the corner of Shizuru's mouth. "I'm married to a beautiful, responsible mother-to-be who's carrying two healthy babies, remember?" A pause, and the soft sound of another kiss. "Sweetheart, it's good for them that you're the size you are – it means you're doing a fantastic job taking care of them, and they aren't even born yet."
"Mm." Shizuru turned onto her left side and nestled closer, and she felt a slow exhale warm her neck. "It might be good for them, but it certainly isn't good for my sense of vanity."
Natsuki laughed softly as she picked up on the dry humor in her lover's voice, and kneaded Shizuru's back gently with one hand in return for a low, appreciative moan. "That's probably par for the course," she noted. "I remember feeling a little body-shy myself about six and a half years ago."
"During which time I tried my best to reassure you much as you're reassuring me now, didn't I?" The older woman chuckled quietly, and Natsuki felt the soft press of lips against the base of her throat. "Ookini."
"Just doing my part." She rubbed her cheek against Shizuru's temple. "You take care of the babies, and I take care of you, right?"
A healthy kick impacted her belly and made her oof lightly in surprise, and they both laughed quietly.
"Another country heard from," Shizuru commented as she closed her fingers around Natsuki's wrist and settled her hand over the side of her own abdomen. "It really is far too late for us to be awake; let alone either of these two."
"Mm." Natsuki gave the skin beneath her fingers a slow tickle, and smiled both at the low giggle from her lover and the feeling of the small hands which were now giving her own palm a series of enthusiastic jabs. "Bit of a nightowl, isn't she? That's the third time this week."
"She simply wants to keep track of what's going on around her." Shizuru kissed her lightly. "Which reminds me very much of someone else I know."
"Har har." She gave the soft lips beneath her own a light nip, and felt them curve into a smile. "Want me to try calming her down again?"
"Please." The sheets rustled as the older woman shifted onto her back, and Natsuki scooted down far enough that her face was at the same level as her lover's belly.
"Evening, Manami," she whispered against the warm skin, and got a bump to the nose for her troubles. In the dim illumination from the street lights outside, she could just barely see the outline of a small fist reaching for her. She gave it a poke with one finger, then shifted her hand and prodded a spot a little lower, and grinned when it was immediately met with another punch.
She could – and had – played tag in this manner with the twins several times over the past weeks. Which was just way too cool.
"Hm?" She poked a third spot, and her finger was impacted by a tiny foot this time.
"You're supposed to make her settle down." Shizuru's voice was a cross between indulgence and exasperation. "Not work her up further. You'll wake up Katsuo as well if you keep this up."
"Oh." Natsuki coughed and felt her face heat up at the gentle remonstrance. "Right."
A lock of her hair was settled carefully behind her ear before a tender hand palmed her cheek.
"You'll get your hands on them soon enough, my darling," her lover assured her quietly. "Only six more weeks, at most."
"Ssssuh..." Natsuki felt her eyes widen abruptly at the very second that her voice cracked. "Six weeks?" She shot onto her hands and knees. "That's... Oh, God. I haven't even... the cribs need assembling and I have to paint their room... what about bassinets for them and oh, man we need a nanny and cl-- do we have enough clothes for them? Diapers and powder and, and, and another high chair and--"
"Formula!" The younger woman's arms waved frantically for a full point-seven seconds before Natsuki slapped her hands against either side of her own head. "Do we have formula for when you aren't here?" She continued her one-sided conversation as she crawled rapidly over to the side of the bed. "Oh my God, what about... about... Jesus P. Fish I haven't even packed the car for the hospital yet and they might come early and if they do and the car isn't packed then--
"Natsuki!" Shizuru was having a devil of a time breaking through the sudden burst of rambling, and the fact that she was hard pressed to keep from laughing probably wasn't helping matters any.
"... bad timing and different routes to the hospital and detours and bad drivers with too much time on their hands and-- hyaah!" A sturdy grab on her arm was followed by a sharp tug, and what had started as a rapidly rising motion quickly became a rapidly falling one.
The mattress bounced as she landed next to her lover.
"Natsuki?" Shizuru was looking at her intently.
"Calm - down."
"... right." A heavy, slow exhale. "Sorry."
Their laughter did, in fact, end up waking Katsuo as well.