Title: Sure Things
Author: Me, yo.
Disclaimer: Per usual, I don't own them, I don't want them, and I have no real need for them. Nonetheless, they're fun to play with, so I thank Murakami for that.
Blood Type: Formula. I wouldn't want it running through my own veins, but hey. Whatever floats the boat.
Warnings: Manga!canon might sneak out of a corner and beat you with a blunt object, and heterosexual procreation, I suppose, deserves as much warning as any other sort.
Notes: I can put credit for this on only two things: alcohol and Aja. Both played a hand in teasing this story out of my brain and turning it into something I was actually somewhat willing to share. So if you like it, you can thank both the alcohol and Aja. If you hate it, just blame the alcohol; Aja was only being helpful.
It was an achingly beautiful, frighteningly fragile thing, although later, in hindsight, Eiri would dismiss those thoughts as trite or twee or any other term that downplayed the true poetry of the moment. At that particular point in time, however, his line of thinking (grudgingly) turned down those very paths even as he frowned and, without glancing up, said, "I thought it was supposed to be more grotesque than this."
In response, Tohma smiled.
"You're happy for us, then?" he asked. Sunlight streamed through the window, spilling over the whitewashed walls and dark-green carpet and glaring into Eiri's eyes as the blond turned his head to glance -- squint, rather -- at his brother-in-law. He felt younger for a moment, like the child he had been when he had first met Tohma. Back then, everything Tohma did seemed to be framed in sunlight and sureties, as though the man could do no wrong, and Eiri had beamed and nodded and smiled with no qualms; as a little boy, he would have done anything to make and keep Tohma happy.
But because Eiri was twenty-four and no longer a little boy, the self-same blond snorted and averted his eyes. "I wouldn't go that far," he said, and shifted the lump of blanket he held in his arms. In the middle of the blankets, a baby -- Tohma's son, and Eiri's three-day-old nephew -- mewled in protest as the sun filtered through the blankets and into the child's unopened eyes. The mewl was enough to catch Eiri off-guard and he jerked, then quickly handed the baby back to Tohma as if that was what he had meant to do all along.
Tohma didn't have a considerable amount of experience with infants, but he took and held the baby boy with what looked like expert ease. Eiri wasn't at all surprised by that; Tohma had always taken to everything he did in just that same manner: elegantly and with minimal difficulty. After a while, it became only natural that a person expected nothing less than smooth perfection from Seguchi Tohma, and Eiri had long since grown used to the man's way of morphing the world to suit his needs. Then again, he had also known Tohma long enough to know how to break those defenses, and, solely because he could, he offered the new father a nod.
Tohma, just for a moment, looked surprised -- just as Eiri had known he would --, but he recovered quickly, smiled, and settled back into his usual, practiced calm. "Thank you."
Eiri nodded, running his fingers lightly over the crib, which was white and trimmed in green, just like the rest of the nursery. It was strange to think of this man as a father, and stranger still to think of his sister as a mother, but Eiri only dwelled on that long enough to say, "And tell Mika congrats, too, I guess." He took his hand from the crib and rubbed at the back of his neck. "When she wakes up."
The two of them (and the baby) shared the briefest of silences. A car squealed around a turn outside, but the sound was faint in the second story room and only the echoes filtered through to inside the nursery. A terpsichorean mobile turned over the crib and the pieces, when they fell together, jingled like soft bells, or chimes. The noise seemed to draw Tohma back into the world, and he offered Eiri a smile.
"Are you sure you won't stay?" he asked. "The dinner is tonight."
Eiri had received at least four invitations to the dinner in just the three days his nephew had been officially out of the womb, and countless more even before that; the event, meant to celebrate the proud new parents (and, by default, the still-nameless baby) had been in the planning stages since Mika had, at the end of the first trimester, announced her pregnancy. The dinner was sure to be the social event of the season, even if only family, close friends, and important business associates were invited, and Eiri had declined all of his many invitations, giving the same reason each time.
Tohma sighed. "You're sure you won't come?"
"Yes." Eiri passed his hand lightly over the crib again before he let it fall. He started to turn toward the door. "All because of that."
The mobile jingled again and the baby murmured or sighed or exhaled (not even Tohma could be sure which) and the elder man started to say something, then stopped. Even that slight action was enough to catch Eiri's attention, however, and he paused at the door. In that brief, muted moment of hesitation, Tohma changed his mind and spoke.
"We would like it if you came," Tohma said. "You know very well that it will not be the same without the entire family there. Without you there, rather." He was, for a second, quiet. "Please come."
"Invite Shuichi," Eiri said softly, "and perhaps I will."
The writer didn't bother to wait for Tohma to respond. He didn't need to: the sudden, quiet hiss of breath was answer enough. Eiri hadn't expected anything different, of course; as much as Tohma swore he had accepted Shindou Shuichi as 'part of the family', his contradictory, unapologetic actions spoke just as clearly as Tohma's own words, and they were considerably more boisterous. Still, instead of bringing up that old, often-addressed argument here, in the clean, white room of the Seguchi couple's first child, Eiri smiled a small, cynical half-smile and shook his head.
"Enjoy your party," he said in parting, and left. The door whispered shut behind him.