Disclaimer: The author takes absolutely no stake or claim on any characters mentioned.
Warning: Shounen-ai, Inexplicit yaoi, mild swearing, detailed childbirth, drug usage.
A/N: It seems like in every story I read, Kousei is the bad guy. It's practically become fanon for him to be a jerk, a bastard, a drunk, an abusive father...
Anyone else find this a little unfair? Maybe he wasn't such a bad guy at all. Maybe, like any dad, he made a few mistakes, and like any dad, he had to learn to deal with them.
I say his character needs a nice, healthy, reformation.
Childbirth=Prologue. Meaning this chapter. If this is not your idea of a good opening to a story, just go ahead and skip to the body of the story, where it actually begins.
Update: Got a commission done for Confusion:
h t tp : / / ash flura . deviant art . com /gallery / #/ d4vm z72
As usual, remove the spaces. More lovely Ashflura art |3
I really didn't hate my son, and I never wished that I'd had another, or that I'd taken his brother instead. It's not like he was just some bad kid, life was just a little unfair to him; to both of us, really. I could never really control him; he was too wild, too rebellious. From the very start of his life I guess I should've known that this little guy was going to cause me a mess of trouble, but as a father, there wasn't a single reason to be had that would make me turn my back on him. I loved my son, and I still do, even now...
I guess, like all stories, we have to start at the beginning. Or at least, we have to start at Kouji's beginning.
Marriages always start like the perfect dream. It always seems like everything in the world is so perfect and so wonderful and it's obvious that you were destined for each other, and never mind how different you two are as people. I don't think there could ever be two people more different than me and Tomoko, not ever.
At first, we were the ideal couple in love. At least we were for two, maybe three years. Then it just...stopped. The dream disappeared. We just stopped being in love, can you imagine that?
I guess it's pretty common now, so maybe you can. Maybe I was naïve enough to think that love was just supposed to last for a great deal longer than two or three years, even if the two hated each other. After all, my parents are still married, and I don't think they've ever even liked each other.
It was unexpected. We weren't really KIDS when we got married and it hadn't been a snap decision. We were in our late twenties, and we'd been seeing each other for three years. We had careers, we had plans. We were pretty settled and we didn't really have money problems, aside from the usual tuition debts. After a few years of having a steady relationship, Tomoko found herself cutting things a bit close, so we moved in together. At first, that was like a dream. We were still very much in love and we loved being together. Then we started thinking, hey, we're intelligent adults who love each other, and we're living together anyway, so why not get married? It would surely be perfect, and besides, it was around time for us to think about settling down anyway. We never even thought we might divorce a few short years later; never even dreamed it. That kind of thing just didn't happen to mature adults in love, right? Stupid kids, maybe, but it wouldn't happen to us. WE were in love.
Well, it did happen, unfortunately. It turns out we weren't as truly in love as we thought, and after three years we were very close to hating each other. We couldn't bear being around one another; we found out, in the end, that we were just so much more different than we realized. We just argued over the stupidest things, we found ways to avoid each other as often as we could. It was the end, and deep down, we both knew that. Our friends and family even knew it. So why we waited so damn long to do something about it, I'll never know.
We had already fallen very out of love when we realized that Tomoko was carrying our child, and there wasn't anything we could do about it. An abortion was unacceptable; I know it's a common thing these days to just terminate unwanted pregnancies, but neither of us thought we could go through with it. We both grew up in the kind of household where that kind of thing was looked down upon, and besides, it was our child. Even if we hated each other, we couldn't hate the child.
But at the same time we couldn't have this child together; not with us snapping at each other all the time. We wanted this child to be the perfect solution to our crumbling marriage, and we tried to pretend we could stay together if for nothing else but the baby, but even our unborn child couldn't persuade us to start loving each other again. There seemed to be no solution, none, except for one, miserable thing.
The divorce wasn't my idea; Tomoko brought it up. To this day, I don't know what on earth she was thinking. She already knew she was pregnant; hell, she was already almost four months along. Why on earth she'd want to cut out the father in her child's life is beyond me. I don't think I was such a bad husband, and I don't think I'd have made such a bad father...
But truthfully, and even I'd admit it, Tomoko and I could not take marriage anymore. We barely liked each other. Each of us had somehow evolved into a person with qualities that neither of us could stand. We didn't even want to live together, even talk to each other. Days would go by with us just walking around each other, pretending we weren't there. I could pretend that a baby would solve all of our problems, but in reality an infant would make them ten times worse. Tomoko knew that, and she wasn't selfish enough to put a child through all that pain.
The decision was short and sweet; it was better for us and for the child that we do it while we could still be civil to each other. Neither of us wanted to become the married couple who argued nonstop in front of an impressionable child, as though it were normal. My own parents were always fighting with each other; I knew how much it could hurt. We would rather the child grew up in a calm environment with only one parent rather than a war-zone with two.
I still wanted partial custody of the child. I was not going to let it escape out of my life, and I was not going to just disappear, and cut off all ties with Tomoko. I made it clear I was going to help support the baby, even if we weren't married. I knew with our country's stupid custody system it'd be a little hard, but Tomoko was going to work with me. She'd let me be there watching our child grow up.
And then, there were two.
Suddenly, there were two babies. Tomoko and I saw them for the first time together on the ultrasound. We were both fluttering with anticipation to see our baby looking actually like a baby for the first time, and we couldn't wait to see that little head. Imagine our shock and surprise when we looked up on the screen, and there were two little heads. Twins; identical twins, it turned out. Boys, both of them, and healthy boys too. MY boys. My SONS.
And as I realized that Tomoko was already very pregnant, I realized that I WANTED my boys, because it was something totally profound to me. They were MY children. I couldn't let them go like that.
The divorce was already underway; it was just about to be finalized. I asked her, could it be terminated? Maybe we could work our marriage out. It wasn't that bad to begin with; we just weren't as in love as we used to be. Maybe that wasn't such a big deal; maybe we didn't have to be in love. As long as we could just tolerate each other, why not stay married? It wouldn't hurt anything…
Tomoko said that it would be fine; there was no reason we couldn't just go through with the plan, and share custody of the babies. If I could support one, I could support two. Nothing has changed, she said. We still don't love each other, and we never will reconcile our petty differences. We weren't young love-birds anymore, and we never would be again, no matter what our hopes or dreams were. It was in all of our best interests, the twins included, to finalize the divorce. We had to be adults and make the adult decision in the best interests of the boys. Staying together and hating each other was not the answer.
She was right, of course, and she was thinking more clearly than I was. It was one reason I'd fallen in love with her in the first place; she was always so steadfast with her decisions, and even though I'd stop and go back and think over all the other possibilities and second guess myself, she'd always know the right answer in the end. I was still thinking of myself; she was still thinking of the boys.
Ah, my boys. Sometimes it's just still so profound to me to realize you've created life.
I reasoned that I couldn't let my sudden obsession with children get in the way of logic, and the logical thing was to go through with the divorce. We weren't fighting over money or equity or anything stupid like that, so it was all going smoothly and quickly. I didn't need to be the bump in the road to stop all of that; we just needed to get on with it.
We did. Then came the nightmare.
Twins are notorious for coming too early, and having the mother descend into labor long before they're ready to come out. My pair was no different. They were just barely seven months along when they decided to come toppling into the world, in a most unpleasant way.
Tomoko wanted to give birth naturally; it was important to her. We were already apart and living in separate houses, but the minute the real labor started, (the real thing for sure, not fake labor) I was the one she called to drive her to the hospital. The contractions before labor usually last hours and sometimes all day. We figured: no problem. Plenty of time to get to the hospital.
Just like our rotten luck, her water broke some time during the car ride. Then she started crying, and just wailing about the pain she was in, and she begged God to let it stop. I've never given birth, obviously, but I was positive that something was very wrong.
And I was very right.
Her cervix wouldn't dilate properly. There was apparently an issue with one of the twins, who was facing in the wrong direction. Babies should be born headfirst, they say, not feet first, because complications could occur. Worst of all, Tomoko was bleeding, and the birth hadn't even happened yet. This was apparently a very, very bad sign.
The doctor had something to give her to force her to dilate, but they were afraid it wouldn't be enough. They wanted to do a caesarean section; she insisted on natural birth. They could give her an epidural, but there was no time for it to take effect. She was already IN labor, and the babies were coming NOW.
So my wife, my ex-wife, the stubborn old broad that she was, ended up in labor, delivering twins way too early, bleeding, and giving natural vaginal birth, with one of them facing the wrong way, without an epidural.
I've heard horror stories about painful births, but this one deserved some kind of award.
Fathers weren't typically allowed in the delivery room at the time, but I was allowed in, just to calm her down. She was freaking out. We had waited until our thirties to have children, which they say is the ideal child-bearing time, but Tomoko, simply could not bear the pain, and suddenly her best interests were at the top, not the boys'. She begged for anything to stop the pain; doctors told her anything but an epidural would probably hurt the babies, and she screamed that she didn't care. She yelled that she wanted these "things" out of her, as if they were just terrible burdens, not two innocent babies.
They told her to push. She did. Blood pooled out. She breathed. She pushed. There was more blood. They cleaned it up. She pushed.
Then one of them crowned, the one who was facing the right way. All of a sudden, a split second later, it was out. HE was out. My first son was born! There was stuff and blood all over him, but there he was: my first child! And I heard him cry for the first time...! Oh, I wanted to cry with him, really I did.
And then he disappeared. I only really got a glimpse of him before someone scurried him out of the way and temporarily out of mind. Now to worry about the second one.
Babies aren't usually born breech, that is, with their legs coming out first. Gynecologists are supposed to notice this type of thing and perform procedures to turn the baby the RIGHT way around. For some reason, this wasn't done, which made life much harder for us and the doctors.
In the event that the position is not corrected, breech babies are usually delivered by C-section because it's extremely difficult to deliver one safely, and it's particularly stressful for the mother. Tomoko did not have time for a C-section, and so all we could do was pray for the best. The first one was okay; with a little luck, maybe the second one would be too.
She was given oxygen and she was being treated for shock. They were trying to coerce the baby out, and slowly, he came, feet first, with Tomoko sobbing and wailing all the while. It felt like it took forever for him to emerge, and I was panicking; what if he suffocated before they got him out? What if he choked on all the blood? Almost all of him was out except for the head, the most IMPORTANT part...
His head suddenly popped out, and for the second time in five minutes, I became a father. He didn't do anything for a few long seconds; they felt like forever to me. He didn't move and he didn't make any noise. His mouth and nose were cleaned out and I couldn't even watch as they tried to get him to make some indication that he was alive. He couldn't be dead, couldn't be stillborn..
Then I heard him make a little gurgling noise. He breathed. He cried.
He was alive.
At this point I finally cried. Not very loudly or obnoxiously or anything, but there were tears.
We didn't get to see them again for a long time because they were undergoing a lot of additional treatment to ensure they would survive. The twins were exceptionally small, due to being so premature, and their lungs weren't fully developed. They were extremely susceptible to bacteria, and we weren't allowed to hold them at first. They looked a little sickly when I got a glimpse of them the next time.
But they were alive.
Tomoko continued bleeding after the placenta came through. She nearly hemorrhaged to death, but thank God; they got the bleeding under control. She was stabilized. She successfully delivered the twins and did not die in childbirth. However, it was very, very unlikely that she would take another pregnancy very well. Consequences could be disastrous. Although we were no longer married, and no longer having sex, she decided to get her tubes tied so that there would be no threat of pregnancy ever again. Why would she ever need to be pregnant again, now that we already had two beautiful babies? And maybe would get back together...?
She was conscious and moving around on their second day. We held them together, first one, and then the other. We forgot our stupid differences and we smiled at each other, cooing over our children, as if we were just happy parents in love.
She agreed to give them my name, Kou, the one that used the character for "happiness," and sometimes "luck." Call it egotistical; I just wanted my boys to at least start off well in life after their near-tragic birth. An encouraging name helped. She concured.
I might have chosen creative endings had I given more thought to it, but instead just stuck with "ichi" and "ji," for the first and second born, respectively.
Kouichi and Kouji: my first and only sons.
It was a little over a week before Tomoko was allowed to go home, and a little more than two weeks before the twins were considered healthy enough to be brought home. They'd gotten ill in their first week, which is what caused the delay, but the infection cleared up without much fuss and we received them in good health, and in good spirits. Or at least, spirited. They moved around and cried just about the whole ride home.
I practically moved back in with Tomoko to help take care of the babies, who were a handful, as babies usually are. Already, they seemed to have their own personalities. Kouichi liked feeding time, and Kouji couldn't stand it. Kouji could usually sleep through the night, and Kouichi woke up every half hour. Kouichi slept on his back, and Kouji slept on his stomach. It was delightful to watch them move around and exist in completely different ways, even though they were twins.
It was amusing even to try and tell them apart for the first few days; we'd had to keep their bracelets from the hospital on to be sure we wouldn't mix them up. Tomoko figured out who was who faster than I did, and soon didn't even hesitate when it came to finding one or the other. Call it a mother's instinct, I guess.
I'm still not sure how, but I was eventually able to figure out which one was Kouji specifically, so when I needed to tell them apart, I found Kouji first.
For the first two or three weeks, everything was great. Tomoko was an amazing mother and no lack of sleep seemed to deter her from caring and loving for her children. She was even remarkably pleasant to me, and I was extremely grateful that even if I had married a woman I couldn't stand, at least she was a competent mother.
The twins were not so grateful to their exhausted mother. They were very demanding and very finicky. They cried an awful lot. I could tell the constant crying was extremely stressful to Tomoko, and in return, it was stressing me. I cringed every time the twins cried, knowing that in another room somewhere, Tomoko was cursing them.
As per usual, Tomoko decided to be stubborn and wanted to strictly breast feed the twins, but she was having trouble producing enough milk to feed both of them as often as was necessary, especially with their low birth weight to account for. Tomoko breast fed them in the morning and afternoon, and at night, I formula fed them. After a few more weeks, I was usually the one to change their diapers, and often the one to bathe them. Frankly, I became their primary caretaker.
I eventually realized that Tomoko suffered from post-partum depression, and she got hit with it hard. I knew that she was a great mother; really. I just didn't think she could BE a mother with her depression stifling her like this. There were times she didn't even want to look at the twins, and she let me tend to them all day. Then there were times where she could hardly stand to let them go, and she couldn't let them out of her sight for a minute. Then she started getting worse. She either slept too much or not at all. She either went days without eating or binged all in one sitting. She cried a lot. It worried me.
Tomoko suddenly realized that she didn't want me around anymore. She abruptly reminded me that we had divorced, and out I went. There was shit I could do about it; back then and even now, custody in all divorce cases usually went to the mother, and the father had no right to demand to see his children if the mother did not want him to.
She grew very jealous of the twins, never allowing me see them, just to keep them to herself. Sometimes she favored one over the other, and while she fawned happily over one twin, the other would be left alone in his crib, forgotten. She changed her favorite every time. She jumped back and forth; these were HER babies, and don't you forget it, and she smothered them with love. And then she would leave them in their cribs for hours, ignoring them completely, no matter how loud they cried.
It scared me.
When they were only six months old, I hired the best damn lawyer I could find and I filed for legal custody of both Kouichi and Kouji, who at the time, in exchange for being named by me, were both given the surname "Kimura," Tomoko's previous family name. I wanted to take both twins, change their names to Minamoto, and take care of them myself. I wanted to get them the hell out of there before Tomoko unintentionally became abusive. I couldn't let the whole "babies belong with their mothers" issue ruin my boys' lives.
My defense was that Tomoko was not a fit mother because of her depression and that she could not care for the babies like a sound mother should. She also had a lower rate job than I did, and it was ludicrous to imagine her actually raising two children on her own. She would simply never pull it off; she would neglect them at some point, and possibly fail to feed them. I showed evidence that she was already possibly neglecting them and that her current treatment of the two bordered on abuse. Her own mother testified on my behalf; even she saw how wrong it all was, namely because she, the grandmother in the whole bother, had to baby-sit them more often than not.
My argument was clean-cut, precise, and to the point, and it was perhaps a little too perfect. Here's this guy trying to take two little babies away from their mother forever, and this poor woman, crying her eyes out, barely able to sob that she WAS a good mother and she wanted her babies to be her babies. It's a sexist world out there; people want children to be with their mothers, no matter how unfit, and from the start, I knew I was fighting a losing battle.
Our "joint custody" agreement was very far gone. I don't think we had a civil word to say to each other for months.
The end was bittersweet. The judge saw it this way. There were two children, and two parents. Both parents want to keep both children, and this was a unique case where the mother might not exactly be the best choice. His solution was to split the children up, and to have one parent take one twin, and the second parent take the other. There was enough evidence to support that Tomoko could raise one child, but he agreed: two was out of her reach. He declared her a fit mother who did not deserve to have her babies taken away from her for no apparent reason. Ironically, though she was branded "mentally sound," she was ordered to seek out counseling.
I was appalled that he came to this decision. How could we split the twins up? They were...well...TWINS. They were brothers. Even if we worked something out and they saw each other every single day, it just wasn't right. Twin brothers belonged together. They were special.
But that was the deal; take it or leave it. I can have one son, or neither. It was the hardest decision of my life, and I wasn't even given a choice.
Truthfully, I was grateful to even have the option of one. I'd been partly expecting to never see my sons again. At least I could protect one son.
Kouichi was a relatively healthy baby, and he was much quieter than Kouji. He didn't cry as much and he didn't fuss, and he'd switched his nightly routine with Kouji's. Now he slept nicely through the night, and Kouji was up every half hour. I figured that if Tomoko had to have one of the twins, it should be the one that would be easiest for her to care for, so she wouldn't blame it for her problems. However, and it's kind of embarrassing to admit, but I was kind of sad that I wasn't going to be raising my firstborn son... in the end though, none of that really mattered.
Kouji was a lively child, even if he was born second and smallest. He made a lot of noise and created a lot of problems, and even now, he still had a bad habit of refusing milk. Personally, I guess I was a little more attached to him; he was the first son I'd gotten to hold, and I'd always known him over his brother…
I expected to have to get into some big argument about which child went where, but Tomoko was incredibly accepting when I suggested that I took Kouji. Evidently she had her own reasons for wanting custody of Kouichi; to this day I'm not sure if her reason was because he was easier to care for, or if there was some other hidden reason. Maybe he was just her favorite at that particular time, for whatever reason.
Tomoko and I agreed on the split. As long as she was guaranteed full custody of Kouichi, I was guaranteed full custody of Kouji. When the decision was made, she was unfazed, but when it actually came to taking Kouji away, she wept and sobbed and hugged him like he was being sentenced to death. She could barely let go of him; I think she was ready to fight so that she wouldn't have to.
Don't get me wrong; the woman was a fiercely protective and loving mother…when she wasn't feeling so depressed. Thankfully, I got Kouji out of there without an incident.
Kouichi and Kouji were one year old when they were separated, and they were only just beginning to acknowledge that they existed together. Their goodbye consisted of Kouji poking Kouichi in the eye as he was picked up, and for Kouichi to begin bawling.
I wonder to this day if from that day on, they'd ever realized there was someone missing.
I had taken a job in Sapporo to get away from Tokyo. Although neither of us really said it, we decided on our own unofficial agreement. We would not keep in touch. We would not let the twins know they were twins. If we could help it, for as long as we could, we would live separate lives, and avoid telling each child that their other parent was easily reached.
I almost legally had Kouji's second character changed to another variation of "ji" so that he wouldn't question why he was the "second son," but I didn't. I couldn't justify it. It didn't seem right somehow, like if I'd done that, I wouldn't be acknowledging that I had a first son out there.
I didn't even know if I would ever see Kouichi again, but he was still my first born son, and I would always remember that. I'd asked Tomoko to send me pictures of him as he grew up; I didn't know if she would do it or not, since when I asked she joked (I think she was joking, anyway...her sense of humor is a little more skewed than mine) she told me if I wanted to see Kouichi I just had to look at Kouji.
I was pretty sure her mother would though. Her mother liked me still for some reason.
Anyway, I did legally have Kouji family name listed as Minamoto before I left the city. Afterwards, I left my ex-wife, along with Kouichi, my first son, behind, possibly to never see them again. For a long time, they simply dropped off the face of the earth, ceasing to exist altogether except every three or four years, where I'd receive a picture of my first born son. And that was all I ever knew of him.
And thus, Minamoto Kouji became my only son; he became my entire world. He was all I had. I became a single father to a developing infant, never to truly know what would lie ahead in the future until it all continued to go downhill.
Perhaps I should have modified Kouji's name, and instead chosen to rename him entirely, instead calling him "bad luck."