Title: Bun in the Bakery, Chapter One - Week Three
Warnings: het (IchiHime), pregnancy
Disclaimer: These characters belong to a lot of Japanese people, namely people like Tite Kubo and Shonen Jump. You'll notice how none of those are me. This will probably (never) be updated weekly, until I eventually drop it like every other project ever (this is short, so this is a joke. Probably). Not responsible for epileptic seizures or allergic reactions. May contain eye-and-brain-bleeding levels of radioactive ANGST and/or peanut products. Please sit a reasonable distance from your computer screen.
Author's Note: So this was mostly done on a dare from a friend who linked me to some really bad pregnancy fic, and the idea was so cute that I couldn't help but write it. You know how it is. Hopefully this won't take away from my other fics. Anyway, hope you enjoy this!
Orihime stared expectantly at the little plastic stick between her fingers.
The box had said to wait a minimum of two minutes and one had already gone by. As she watched the window with the blue line closely, her hand shook almost imperceptibly. Her heart was in her throat and she could swear a bead of sweat had just trickled down her temple.
She swallowed, focusing intently on the little window and turned the problem that had been on her mind for the past four days over in her mind again. Her period was rarely late, and if it was, it was only by a day or two. And ever since she and Ichigo had gotten married four years ago, she had been very careful to keep track of her ovulation, what days were safe and what weren't. She even had a little day planner to keep track of it and everything! And they were always very careful to work around her schedule. But she was now five days late and counting, and it simply didn't make any sense.
Finally, as the last seconds ticked away, Orihime squeaked in surprise and dismay. A second blue line had appeared. She was in fact pregnant.
A million thoughts exploded inside her head at once. The first were naturally about Ichigo; while she was sure he'd be thrilled, this wasn't what they'd planned at all. He was only twenty-six, and she was still three weeks from her birthday. When they'd gotten married, they'd agreed to wait for children until they were financially stable; Orihime had figured that would be sometime around thirty. Then they could wait five years and have a second baby! Even knowing that, though, this all seemed so sudden and soon to her.
And while both of them made good money so far, wouldn't this stretch their budget more than was comfortable? Ichigo's job at a local magazine had been steady, even if it hadn't always brought in that much; he'd kept them both afloat while Orihime had worked her way up at a local bakery, before finally scraping up the experience and the funds to open her own. Even then, she'd needed a sizable loan to get started. That had only been six months ago. And sure she had a great staff with Yuzu as her assistant manager and a few reliable cooks underneath them, but a fledgling business needed full-time attention to make sure it succeeded.
Just like a baby, actually.
The big difference was, though, that if she made mistakes in raising a baby, she could just keep trying. If her bakery floundered, it would be substantially more expensive than hiring a tutor or giving more love where it was needed. Children, after all, were receptive human beings that were capable of forgiving most minor parental mistakes; businesses were much more unforgiving in that regard.
Orihime took a deep breath to calm herself. This was nothing to panic over, right? Both she and Ichigo wanted a child (or more accurately, two or three), they were somewhat financially stable, and they were both mature enough to handle a baby, right? The idea of a baby between the two of them almost melted her heart right then and there. And then she remembered how much care and attention babies require and it almost sent her right back into another panic.
She went back and forth like this for a good twenty minutes, all while staring at the little plastic stick in her hand and sitting on the tile floor of their apartment's bathroom. Finally, after she'd nearly had her seventeenth freak out, her husband's voice broke her from her stupor.
"Honey, are you done yet? I really have to pee!"
Well, Ichigo was never known to be delicate with things like that.
"J-Just a second, dear!" she called, trying to mask her nervousness. She just couldn't tell him yet. What if the test was wrong? She knew little about these things, but did realize she needed to have it confirmed with a doctor before they could be sure. And it would make sense, wouldn't it? If they were carefully avoiding her fertile days, she shouldn't be pregnant, right?
Days -- the day planner! Yes, she should check just one more time to be sure! Now she just had to get to the dresser in the bedroom to check it...
She rose from the floor, clutching the little plastic stick in her hand and steeling herself, and peeked out the bathroom door. She glanced both ways and upon seeing the coast was clear started out of the bathroom. Before she took two steps, though, her husband appeared, causing her to freeze. She stared at him with wide-eyed fright as he passed right by her on his way into the bathroom.
"I-It's all yours, Ichigo-kun!" she squeaked, hoping he didn't notice. As luck would have it, he seemed pretty preoccupied with getting into the bathroom and didn't really look up. Instead, he planted a small kiss on his wife's cheek and kept moving.
"Thanks, Hime." And with that he was gone, the door snapping behind him as the sound of water hitting the toilet reached Orihime. She heaved a sigh of relief, her shoulders slumping from the release of tension as she made her way to their bedroom. He hadn't noticed, which was good; she didn't know why, but the prospect of telling her husband that she was now pregnant made Orihime's heart lurch.
As the sound of the shower came though the bathroom door, Orihime made her way to the dresser in their bedroom. She opened the top drawer and riffled through it until she found her dayplanner. Flipping through it, she came to the month of August. Just as she'd remembered, the days that she was most fertile were left unmarked. With a sense of satisfaction, she almost closed it until she realized there were markings on the September pages. Of course, she'd plotted her cycle out several months in advance, but these were extra markings beyond that. With a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, she flipped to the September page, only to find out that it had already been filled out in several places.
"The... The pages stuck together?"
Her voice was shrill, tinged with panic and disbelief. Taking the pen she kept in the same drawer, she transferred the marks from September back to August where they belonged. Sure enough, they'd managed to do it on every single one of her fertile days (and even twice on one!). It was no wonder she'd gotten pregnant!
Her stomach clinched and she was sure it would sink so far that it would fall to the floor at any second now. Her hand reflexively went to cover it, but upon remembering exactly what had taken up residence inside she flinched, jerking her hand away. If she touched it, that would make it real, right?
Trying to put her thoughts in order, Orihime heard the shower shut off and realized that Ichigo would be stepping out any second now. Above all else, he couldn't see her like this just yet - she had to figure out a way to tell him and she couldn't do that if he came out and saw how shaken she was.
As calmly as she could, she closed the dayplanner and put it back inside its drawer, along with the pen and the little plastic test strip. She knew that she had to get out of the apartment and do it before Ichigo saw her, but after that where was she going to go? She didn't want to see a doctor right yet; not just that, but she'd have to wait for an appointment, wouldn't she? And she was too nervous to go into work; if Yuzu saw her like this, she would worry for sure. No, there was only one place that she could possibly go right now.
"Hime? Are there any towels left?" Ichigo called down the hallway, water running off his body in little streams as he stood with his head poking out of the bathroom door. his only response was the sound of his wife's little footsteps followed by the click of the front door.
Arisawa Tatsuki had just filled her water bottle and tossed her towel around her neck when she went to grab her keys and her exercise bag. This was part of her morning routine: up at six, breakfast at six-thirty, dressed by seven-fifteen, and out the door to the gym where she taught karate and kick-boxing by seven-thirty. Her first classes begun at nine, and the bus trip usually took long enough that she had just enough time to put her things away before heading to her first class.
This morning, however, her regular schedule was about to be derailed. As the frantic pounding on her door reached her ears, Tatsuki didn't even need to open it to know who it was. She could sense Orihime's presence across worlds; feeling her through the thin door of her apartment was no sweat. As she moved to open it, though, worried lines creased her brow; that knocking sounded panicked. And when she opened the door, she found a very distressed, very out-of-breath Orihime on her front stoop.
"Orihime?" she asked, her voice concerned as she reached out to touch her friend's shoulder, "What's wrong? Come in, dammit!" She pulled her busty friend across the threshold, finally seeing clearly that she had been crying.
"Is it Ichigo?" Tatsuki asked, putting an arm around Orihime's shoulder, "I already told him if he did anything to make you cry, I'd castrate him." This seemed to make Orihime even more upset; Tatsuki guessed being married to a eunuch was kind of an upsetting proposition.
"I-It's not Ichigo-kun's f-f-fault!" Orihime blubbered, "I had a stick and it's late so I thought there m-might be a mistake so I ch-checked but the pages were stuck together a-and..."
Tatsuki stared openly at her best friend's gibberish, trying to make heads or tails of it, to no avail. Orihime usually said odd things, but not quite this odd. Normally, it was like she had conversations with herself and only gave Tatsuki the notes at the end; this was more like something that you'd take medication for. In short, this wasn't Orihime's normal kind of crazy.
"Just... Hold on a second here, Orihime," she said, guiding her friend to a cushion beside her kotatsu, "Have a seat. I'll get you a glass of juice and you can tell me all about it, okay?" Orihime nodded, her bottom lip trembling as Tatsuki turned her oscillating desk fan on her to try and help cool her off.
Tatsuki rushed to grab a glass from her kitchen, fill it with juice, and bring it back to Orihime before anything else weird could happen. To her pleasant surprise, Orihime had calmed considerably by the time Tatsuki returned; she was now only occasionally sniffling and dabbing at her eyes, the hysterics having faded considerably.
"Th-Thanks, Tatsuki-chan," she said, taking the juice from her best friend, "I-I'm sorry I made you worry." Tatsuki raised an eyebrow as she plopped down beside Orihime.
"Geez, you act like you haven't left me for different worlds before," Tatsuki chided, "It'll take more than a couple tears to freak me out." Although Tatsuki did have to admit - her friend did bear even the worst of times with a big, broad smile on her face. To see her in such a state was worrisome, to say the least.
Even more worrisome was that Orihime wasn't at work right now. She loved her bakery; in fact, Tatsuki had overheard Ichigo's half-joking comments that she loved it more than him on more than one occasion. For something to keep her out of work, it had to be pretty bad, right?
Orihime looked into her juice cup guiltily, thinking about Tatsuki's comment. Sure, she'd told Tatsuki everything about her adventures years ago, but she'd always felt bad about leaving her out in the first place. But that wasn't the point right now! She had to tell her--!
"T-Tatsuki-chan," she said, swallowing thickly, "I-I think I'm pregnant."
Several emotions flooded through Tatsuki at once. Her first urge was to find Ichigo and throttle him; ever since those two had started dating, she'd had trouble reigning in her protective instincts when it came to him. Then she reminded herself that they weren't sixteen anymore and that it was perfectly fine for a married couple of four years to have a baby. Then she was momentarily side-tracked by realizing she was going to be an aunt to a very cute redheaded little boy or girl. And then she came back around to remember that Orihime had always wanted children, which made this whole situation even more bizarre.
"T-Tatsuki-chan?" she asked, forgetting her tears long enough to peer curiously at her distracted best friend.
"That's a good thing, though, isn't it?" Tatsuki finally asked, shaking off her stunned stupor, "I thought you and Ichigo wanted kids?" Orihime fretted at this observation.
"We do, but..." she began, fidgeting with her juice cup, "I-I'm not sure if we're ready. They're so much responsibility a-and what if I mess everything up? What if I can't have a baby and run my bakery at the same time? I-I'm s-so selfish, Tatsuki-chan!" Tatsuki put her hand on Orihime's back and began rubbing as her friend burst into tears again.
"Come on, Orihime," she said softly, "You're not being selfish, you're being practical. It's a big step - I don't think you'd be normal if you didn't worry at least a little." Orihime seemed to stop crying with a flurry of sniffles at this encouragement, but didn't seem entirely convinced.
"B-But... How can I be a mother a-and still run m-my bakery?" she asked, genuinely worried. Tatsuki sighed as she rubbed her back.
"Orihime," she began, purposely keeping her voice calm and soothing, "Plenty of people have children and run businesses every day. There's no reason someone as smart and amazing as you can't do it, too." Orihime seemed a little more encouraged by that.
"D-Do you really think so?" she sniffled, looking to her best friend with fresh hope. Tatsuki nodded knowingly.
"Of course I do," she said confidently, "Now come on. We're going to both call in to work and I'm going to take you out for the day to celebrate."
"E-Eh?" Orihime stuttered as Tatsuki pulled her off the floor, "B-But Yuzu-chan will worry a-and..." Tatsuki was already dialing her cell phone by the time she finished talking, though.
"Hey, Yuzu-chan, it's Tatsuki," she said into the phone, "Yeah, I'm great. Listen, Orihime's over at my place. Yeah, she's pretty sick. You can cover things by yourself today, right? Great! I'll make sure she gets plenty of rest. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Thanks, Yuzu-chan. Talk to you later." As she hung up, she turned to see Orihime flailing at her, waving her hands wildly and stammering in her general direction.
Ichigo was feeling several emotions at once right now.
First, and most consuming, was worry. His wife had left home early this morning without so much as a word to him. He'd pushed the uneasy feeling he'd had this morning out of his mind on the way to work; surely he was just being paranoid. She had probably just wanted to get to work early.
He knew Orihime loved her job. In fact, he sometimes had to show up there on his own and drag her away just to get her all to himself every once in a while. Which was why he was surprised and kind of distraught to find her missing when he stopped in to see her on his lunch break.
It wasn't like her to up and disappear like that; after the whole Hueco Mundo incident years ago, she'd been very careful to let Ichigo know where she was going most of the time. She'd even agreed to carry a cell phone, even though she had lost several of them and regularly forgot to charge it.
Even stranger, she'd called in sick to work. She hadn't seemed sick that morning, either, although Ichigo thought that might have explained why she'd taken so long in the bathroom. Besides that, though, Orihime was almost never sick, nor would she want to miss work even if she was. Ichigo had even had to remind her on a few occasions that she worked in food service and didn't want to get others sick by showing up with a bug.
So Ichigo had called out for the rest of the day from his office, opting to head straight home to see if she was there instead. Upon finding an empty apartment, he'd attempted to call the woman herself, only to find her phone had been left on the nightstand beside their bed. He even called his father's clinic to see if she hadn't went there to be seen by his father.
Which led to the next emotion coursing through Ichigo's mind: extreme annoyance.
Once he'd asked his father if he'd seen Orihime, the old man had been so worried for his precious daughter-in-law that he'd driven right over to their apartment to wait for her. Which, of course, had led him to wail in Ichigo's ear for the past hour about how worried he was and how bereft he would be if anything had happened to his beloved Orihime-chan.
Ichigo was on the verge of simply knocking his father out and hunting Orihime down by her reiatsu. He knew this wasn't the best idea ever. He still wasn't particularly good at sensing reiatsu, and Orihime's was soft and gentle anyway. And unlike his quirky wife, he couldn't find her by smell. Still, over the years he'd become accustomed to he reiatsu and could usually find the general direction she'd gone. Besides, if he had to sit and listen to his dad's dramatics much longer, he was going to damage their apartment beyond repair.
Ichigo had just stood up and was about to move toward the door when he heard soft voices and felt Orihime's soft reiatsu coming from outside. And was that Tatsuki with her? As his wife fumbled with her keys, Ichigo nearly pulled the door off its hinges before lunging across the threshold to scoop her up in a bear hug.
"Where the hell have you been, Orihime?" he said, his voice sounding less angry than panicked, "We were worried sick!" Ichigo immediately grasped her head with both hands, threading his fingers through her hair, and kissed her forehead. As he peppered kisses on his wife's confused face, Tatsuki watched the two of them, completely nonplussed.
"Hey, lover boy," she said, her voice dripping sarcasm, "Can I come in before you ravish your wife on the doorstep?" Ichigo looked up at his childhood friend blinking for a second before releasing Orihime and letting them both into the apartment.
"S-Sorry," he said with a blush, "It's just... Do you have any idea how worried we were? We had no idea she was with you this whole time. She... was with you this whole time, right?" Orihime nodded, giving him a small smile.
"U-Uhn," she said, her voice still small and shaky, "Tatsuki-chan took me out for ice cream. I had curry and peanuts on mine." Ichigo gave her a relieved smile.
His attention was broken as his father scooped Orihime up into his arms, causing the smaller woman to squeak with surprise. The much larger Kurosaki man spun his daughter-in-law around on the spot, causing her to flail weakly.
"ORIHIME-CHAAAAN!" Isshin boomed, causing Orihime to wince, "I'm so glad you're okay! My poor son was so worried he was about to--"
"Put her down, old man!" Ichigo bellowed, his foot meeting the right side of Isshin's face. Before he could go off spinning into a wall, however, Tatsuki's foot connected with the left side.
"Stop jostling her, dammit!" she yelled. Isshin dropped like a stone, releasing his grip on his daughter-in-law. "If you're too rough with her, I'll murder you!"
Orihime was too busy fretting over Isshin to notice the confused look on her husband's face. "I-Isshin-papa!"
"D-Don't worry about me, Orihime-chan," he croaked at her, "I've lived a good life..." Tired of hearing his father, Ichigo gave him a swift kick in the ribs.
"Stop faking, old man," he grunted, "That's nowhere near enough to hurt you and you know it." Then he turned back to Tatsuki: "And what's up with you? It's not like she's made of glass or anything." Even as protective as he could be, Ichigo had learned a long time ago that his wife was generally more sturdy than she let on. She hadn't let him forget it, either.
Tatsuki simply raised an eyebrow in his direction.
"Oh yeah?" she asked incredulously, "I'm pretty sure you're about to change your mind about that." Ichigo simply huffed at her before turning back to his wife.
"Honey, what is this crazy woman talking about?" The look on Orihime's face got progressively more fretful until Ichigo was worried she might burst into tears at any second.
"A-Ano, I-Ichigo-k-kun," she stammered, "I-I-I... We're g-going to..."
"She's pregnant," Tatsuki finally said with a sigh, unable to wait through Orihime's stuttering any longer.
Ichigo's expression was one of blank surprise for several seconds as he blinked dumbly at Tatsuki. He then turned to see his wife shyly chewing one of her fingernails, nervously waiting for his reaction. Finally, he opened his mouth to speak.
"Pre-Pregnant?" he repeated, getting used to the way the word felt. After a few seconds, a huge grin began to split his face. "Orihime... Why didn't you te--" Before he could finish his sentence, however, his father recovered and slammed into his chin with a fierce uppercut.
"You little punk!" Isshin bellowed, putting a protective arm around Orihime's shoulders, "You had better take responsibility and make an honest woman out of my daughter!" Ichigo glowered at his father and held his chin for a moment before getting up to return fire.
"She's your daughter-in-law, you old goat," Ichigo ground out, aiming a high kick right into his nose, "And I married her four years ago!" Isshin released his grip on Orihime as he went flying backwards into the (thankfully sturdy) front door. Orihime flinched, giving her husband a pleading look.
"Honey, please don't break the front door again," she said in a worried tone. At this rate, they were never going to get their security deposit back on this apartment. Ichigo grinned at her sheepishly before moving back over to stand in front of his wife.
"A baby," he said, a sense of wonder running beneath his words, "I can't believe it. Why didn't you tell me?" He took her hands and the stress seemed to melt away from her face. They stood like that for several seconds, staring at each other as though they had been separated for days, before Orihime went to answer him.
"I was afraid," she said sheepishly, "It was scary, s-so I went to tell Tatsuki-chan." Ichigo tried to disguise the look of hurt that crossed his face, opting to gather Orihime into a hug instead.
"Hime, you know you can come to me with anything," he murmured into her hair. Orihime sniffled a little, burying her face in his shoulder.
"I know," she said quietly, "I'm sorry I made you worry..."
Tatsuki, meanwhile, was watching from the sidelines, arms folded with a smug smile on her face. Isshin had finally regained his footing, opting to be silent for once instead of interrupting his son's touching moment with his wife. Tatsuki noticed, with some chagrin, that there were broad tear tracks streaming down the older man's face. He was even sniffling and mopping at them with his sleeve.
"Oi, be happy, old man," she said, her expression showing her boredom with his antics, "You're gonna be a grandpa." At this, he started crying even louder.
"I'm too young and handsome to be a grandpa!" he cried, attracting Ichigo's attention.
"Shut up, old man!" Ichigo barked, nearly at his breaking point, "You're going to make her feel bad! And you're at least two hundred years old, so don't give me that crap!" Isshin perked up at this admonition, as though he had genuinely forgotten his own age for a second.
"Oh," he said, a grin finally spreading across his face as well, "So I am!" Then, as though it was really only dawning on him for the first time, he rushed over to gather his son and daughter-in-law into a bear hug.
"I'm going to be a grandpa!" he exclaimed happily, bouncing an irritated Ichigo and a confused Orihime with him, "I always knew you had it in you, son!"
"You're not going to be anything but dead if you don't stop bouncing her," Ichigo growled, freeing an arm just enough to sock his dad back into the front door. As for Orihime, she had learned long ago to just wait patiently for the Kurosaki men to iron out their differences. With their fists.
"Told you he'd get like that," Tatsuki remarked, looking down at Isshin's crumpled form. Having finally decided he'd had enough for one evening, Ichigo pointed in their direction, his face far from happy.
"Alright, that's enough from the peanut gallery," he barked, "If you can't act like a civilized human being, you can get out!" Secretly, this was one of Ichigo's favorite things about being an adult: the authority to kick his dad out of his apartment whenever he wanted. It always brought him a little bit of sadistic glee.
"Ehh, I have to get back home anyway," Tatsuki remarked, "And I don't think my blood sugar can handle watching you two anymore, either. C'mon, old man." Tatsuki reached down to grab the soon-to-be grandfather by his collar, pulling him along behind her towards the door.
"Tatsuki-chan, can you believe how he treats me?" he sobbed, nearly senseless that he was being dragged along behind the person to whom he was speaking, "Where did this ungrateful son come from?"
"I'd treat you the same way," she grumbled, pulling him through the door before slamming it behind them. Ichigo breathed a sigh of relief at their departure; he hated feeling like he was being watched while he was being affectionate with his wife.
"Finally," he muttered, allowing his face to relax into a smile as he finally returned his gaze to Orihime. She was still giggling behind her hand at his father's antics. He couldn't understand exactly why Orihime never lost her patience with the old buzzard, but it was times like these that he was glad she didn't.
"He's going to be a good grandfather, isn't he?" she asked, eyes sparkling for the first time since she'd gotten home. Ichigo pretended to be offended.
"What about me?" he asked, feigning hurt. Orihime cocked her head at him quizzically.
"But you're too young to be a grandfather, Ichigo-kun," she said innocently, causing her husband to snort his laughter through his nose.