Chapter 8: Surprise!

(28 weeks, 2nd Trimester)

"Nope, you're good, all the tests came back clear." Szayel said, sitting at the edge of the bed, flipping through papers attached to a clipboard.

"That's great," Gin smiled, "uuu…how far along am I exactly?" He had lost track.

"Twenty-nine weeks on Tuesday," Szayel said, pushing up his glasses, "hm, the two are doing very well, indeed. Only about two more months left, too."

"What? I thought I had three months of this left," Gin said, looking to Aizen, who was staring off into space. Sometimes Gin got the impression that Aizen didn't even care, "twelve weeks if I'm twenty-eight now."

"That would be if you carried to full term," Szayel said, walking over and pulling a book out of a desk drawer, handing it to Gin, "according to this book, most twins are born around thirty-eight weeks. Anymore, and it might cause harm to the mother." he smile up mockingly at Gin, who wasn't looking at him, but rather flipping through the book.

"Can I borrow this?" Gin asked, frowning in disgust at a cross-section of a seven-month-pregnant woman.

"Yes, you can," Szayel said, waving his hand, "I think I've got a few copies, somewhere. You're lucky, Aizen-sama," Aizen looked up at Szayel at the mention of his name, "at least he's interested. Nnoitra didn't give a hoot what was going on inside him."

"Yes, I suppose," Aizen said patting Gin on the head as if he were a child, still, "I'm just anxious for the little boys to be born."

"Yeah, and you think I'm not?" Gin frowned, "I can't even walk right anymore." This was true, and though Gin hated to admit it, his stride now rather resembled a waddle.

"Yes, we're all very anxious," Aizen said, rubbing Gin's shoulder, "shall we go, Gin?"

"Go where?" Gin asked tiredly, and, with some effort, slid off the bed. He was tired of all these appointments and things. When he used to see pregnant women back in Soul Society, they used to always look so happy all the time. Gin just felt tired and wobbly and hungry. He wanted to fight, or train, or something, but Aizen had taken his sword away months ago, and stealing the wooden sword from Verena was a bad idea now that she was starting to learn how to use it. Nnoitra was intensely training her, as if there was an impending battle; Aizen approved of this.

"Do you want to go back to my room?" Aizen asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Nah, you probably have some important stuff to do," Gin said, pulling his shirt down in vain; it kept sliding back because, like most things, it was too small, "I'm just going to go to the kitchen an' make a sandwich an' read this book." He held up the book again, "it's like a horror movie in text form."

"Are you sure?" Aizen smiled, grabbing Gin's hand, "I think you'll want to come with me." He led Gin out of the lab, saying thank you to Szayel, who nodded knowingly.

"Er, Aizen-sama? What's going on?" Gin asked, following his leader down the hallway; they weren't going towards Aizen's room or the kitchen, which worried Gin.

"We're going somewhere special." Aizen said. Gin moaned.

"But!" He cried, "I'm not wearing anythin' good!" He wasn't wearing shoes, since they were such a hassle to put on, and a pair of shorts that were too big, since they weren't originally meant for someone in his situation, and fell down a lot. He wore a shirt that had been Nnoitra's that said 'I HEART NY', "I look ugly."

"Nonsense!" Aizen said, smiling, "you're glowing."

"Fuck. I hate that; it's so misleading. I could be dying in battle but no one would know because they'd look at me and say 'oh, he's glowing!'"

"It seems like you still have your sense of humor," Aizen said as they came to a doorway; it was one Gin had never seen before, "Let us go inside." He said the last two words loudly, opening the door slowly, and Gin was staring at him suspiciously when figures in black-and-white jumped out of nowhere and nearly sent Gin into preterm labor.

"Surprise!" The figures cried.

"Uwah!" Gin cried, jumping back into Aizen's arms, "ah! Holy shit, guys, you nearly scared me to death!"

"Uh, sorry," Nnoitra said, rising back up to his feet after jumping out at Gin, a pink party hat on his head, "it's a surprise party."

"Are you surprised?" Grimmjow asked, already sucking on a beer bottle. The room was filled with Espada; infact, all of them ,except Szayel, were there, wearing party hats that had blue soothers on them. Ulquiorra's hat looked lopsided as he fished for punch near the back, and Aaroniero, who was trying to hold a conversation with Halibel, but seemed to be talking more to himself, wore two hats on his head, which would periodically slip down since he had no chin to keep them in position. Starrk was asleep, already, sitting in one of the folding chairs pushed against the wall, a kazoo still clutched in his hands. Lilynette was passed out underneath him, as if she had had too much to drink. Barragan was poking around the mound of shoddily-wrapped gifts in the corner with Yammi. Tousen was glaring at them from the other side, his arms crossed, his part hat on backwards, though Gin guessed he wouldn't know.

"A surprise party? What the hell for?" Gin asked, subconsciously pulling at the ends of his shirt, while the 'evil twin', as he had nicknamed him, kicked him in the ribs.

"It's a baby shower!" Nnoitra cried excitedly, jumping up and down, "I picked out the cake!"

"Uh," Gin looked to Aizen.

"They wanted to have one," the ex-Shinigami said, "especially Nnoitra, since they 'didn't get to have one for Verena'."

"Yeah!" Nnoitra said, "look, there's a ton of gifts for you, too. I'm the host, yo, so I hope you're satisfied!"

"Thanks," Gin said, smiling his wide grin, "yeah, but, y'know, it's not fun without the booze."

"No! I took care of that too!" Nnoitra said, standing proudly as if he were a super hero, "Grimmjow?"

"Oh, uh, yeah," Grimmjow disappeared behind a chair for a moment, popping back up seconds later and handing Gin a white bottle with writing on the side, "we had to go all the way to the human world for this."

"What…?" Gin brought the bottle close to his face, reading the fine print on the side, "non-alcoholic sake…oh, nice!"

"Yeah, so now you won't feel left out." Nnoitra sat down on his chair with a whump; the flimsy thing wobbled under his weight. Gin uncapped the bottle and took a swig. His face went white and he spit the liquid out all over the place.

"Bleck! It tastes like shit!"

"Maybe you just forgot what it tastes like?" Nnoitra grabbed the glass, taking a swig, with just about the same reaction, "nah, it tastes like shit."

"I just said that!"

"Well, I dunno, maybe you were lying!"

"That's gross." Grimmjow said, staring at the little spit-and-fake-sake puddle on the floor. Gin and Nnoitra followed his gaze.

"Eww…"

"Ahem," Aizen stepped forward, "can someone tell me how this 'shower' thing works?"

"Why don't we wait for Szayel?" Nnoitra started.

"I'm already here, you git," Szayel said from behind Nnoitra's shoulder, causing the tall Espada to jump, "I've been here for the past two minutes." He held up his glass of punch and adjusted the glasses on his nose.

"Oh," Nnoitra trailed off, before turning to Aizen and saying, "well, see, we all got a gift for Gin and the new baby-"

"Babies." Gin corrected.

"Babies, sorry," Nnoitra rolled his eye, "yeah, so he gets to open them and pretend to be excited about it, then we get to play some games."

"What? Where did you learn about this?" Grimmjow asked, his mouth open in a frown.

"On the internet, of course!"

"You have the internet?" Gin raised an eyebrow, "I thought only Aizen-sama had a computer."

"Dude, how else would I get that awesome porn I showed you last night?" he said, sticking out his tongue out and smiling, "that stuff was better than playboy, I'm telling you. That's what the internet is for!"

"Nnoitra…" Szayel groaned.

"Aizen-sama," Ulquiorra creeped up behind the group, causing nearly everyone to jump, "can we start this 'party'? I don't mean to sound….unenthusiastic, but I have other things to do than drink fruit-flavoured water."

"Hey! I made the punch, you little emo!" Grimmjow growled, raising a fist to the Quarta. Aizen caught it instantly, without so much as flinching.

"Now, now, my darling Espada. No need to get angry, Ulquiorra doesn't know how to appreciate something made with such heart. Now, Ulquiorra, don't you want to stay and celebrate the birth of my sons?"

"If you wish, Aizen-sama." Ulquiorra said. He slunk back to his spot, looking like he needed a hug. He always looks like that, Gin thought, shrugging, that kid needs to get laid.

"Okay, okay!" Nnoitra was then saying, flailing his long arms, "you sit here, Gin," he pulled forward a chair that had been decorated with toilet paper and cardboard soothers.

"What? Why? Why is there toilet paper?"

"We couldn't find any diapers," Nnoitra shrugged, "'cause, y'know, Verena's been pottytrained for a while now…."

"Whatever," Gin sat down, "'cause this isn't embarrassing at all."

"Yo, dude, you're pregnant. I think the point of embarrassment has past," Nnoitra muttered. He picked up a present wrapped in shiny, pink foil and handed it to Gin, "this is from Szayel and I!"

"I wrapped it," Szayel said, "…that's why it looks like it was wrapped by someone older than five."

"Hey, shut up!"

"Thanks," Gin said, tearing into the pink foil. He opened the unveiled cardboard box and peered inside, "what…the…fuck?" He pulled out a pair of leather pants, some cigarettes, and a giant bottle of sake, "how the hell are they supposed to use this?"

"You bastard!" Grimmjow cried, pointing a finger at Nnoitra, "I saw that episode of Friends, too! You stole my idea!"

"Well, technically we stole it from Monica and Rachel, but—" Szayel started. Grimmjow hissed like an angry cat.

"It's fine, whatever," Gin laughed, "now I just have two pair of leather pants," he turned to look at Aizen who stood behind him, "you can use them, 'cause I know you have a collection going…."

"Ahem," Aizen cleared his throat, his face going a little red, "Starrk! Wake up and give Gin your gift."

"Hu?" Starrk awoke with a start, nearly falling off his chair, "oh, uh…Lilynette, go give it to him." He prodded the little girl with his foot.

"Hey!" she cried, getting to her feet, yawning, "you lazy ass."

"I resent that." Starrk said, though he looked like he was falling asleep again.

"Yeah, whatever," Lilynetter shuffled over to the pile of presents and picked out a very long, loosely-rectangular gift wrapped up in paper with sleeping puppies on it. Gin was surprised to find it was squishy when he took it from the girl, "Happy pregnancy thing!" Lilynette said with a smile, "we didn't know what to getcha to we got you this thing at the 'Babies-R-Us' store. Not too sure how it works…."

"Er," Gin unwrapped it curiously. It was a pillow; a very squishy and about as long as Gin was tall, "a body pillow?"

"Oh! That's good!" Nnoitra said, jumping up from his chair excitedly, "like, when you can't get comfy and you have to sleep on your side…you put that underneath you and it's all good…" he trailed off, sitting back down, "I have one like that…."

"Uh, thank you, Starrk and Liliynette," Gin said. He leaned back in his chair, "this is boring, do I have to do this?"

"Yes," Aizen said with a smile, "but I'll give you my present later."


The party had been fun, even with the absurd games Nnoitra had made them play, including 'name-that-baby', in which the Espada were forced to give names to the babies, and the one, or rather, two that the couple liked the best would win an extra piece of cake.

"They're boys, right?" Grimmjow had asked. Gin nodded, smiling.

"Yeah, it's takes a real man to make little boys, eh?"

"Will you be quiet about that?" Nnoitra frowned, "what names do you nominate, Grimmy?"

"Hm," he stared down at Gin, which made the pregnant man a little uncomfortable, "how about Takeshi," he smiled viciously, "I don't know why, but the name has been floating around in my mind for a while."

"Sure…what about the other one?"

"Er…Takeshi the Second…?"

"You're no fun. You're disqualified." Grimmjow said dully, "Takeshi the Second isn't even a name."

"Hey! I could be!" Grimmjow sneered, but Nnoitra had moved on to Zommari, who had been sitting next to Grimmjow, sipping the fruit punch as if it were good whiskey.

"Joaquin," he said in his deep voice, "and Ezequiel. I believe it means 'God with strengthen'."

"Oh, I like that one!" Aizen said, smiling, elbowing Gin in the side enthusiastically.

"Ah, stop it," Gin frowned, "it tickles…."

Gin hadn't liked any of the suggestions, though Aizen really did like Joaquin because it meant God has made, which he thought of as an 'Aizen was here' stamp on the boys.

"But I want something Japanese," Gin had told Aizen later, "not any of these new-fangled American names. They make them sound like movie stars or something."

The rest of the night had gone well, and after everyone who could get drunk had gotten drunk, and wobbled away, and the lights had been turned off, and everyone had gone to bed, Gin was still awake. He couldn't get any sleep anymore, and was turning into an insomniac, even with that pillow that Starrk and Lilynette had given him. Hell, he should have been exhausted from what Aizen gave him; really, he was just thankful the leader had changed his mind about the whole abstinence thing.

Yawning, he decided to get out of bed and walk around for a bit. Maybe then the babies would decided to calm down and let him sleep; they seemed to still be in party-mode.

He shuffled around for a bit; he didn't want to wander too far from his room incase his feet started to swell up (which was bound to happen), and he would be too tired to go back. But something pulled him onwards, back towards the room where the party had been. It was as if his feet lead him there on their own because, before he had realized where he was wandering off to, he was standing in front of the dark room. Piles of wrapping paper and empty red cups still littered the floor. He entered the room, pushing past the mess Nnoitra was supposed to have cleaned up.

"Stupid Espada…can't get them to do anything." Gin grummbled, kicking the small pile of ripped apart paper lightly with his barefoot. The paper drifted on the breeze he had made and floated away across the room, "great, more mess…ah well, it's not like I'm gonna clean it up." He chuckled, watching the paper scatter. He sighed, turning back to the rest of the pile, "hey… what's that?" His eyebrows knit together as he saw something he hadn't seen before. A small, white envelope that had been hidden under all the mess, and if Gin was seeing correctly, the thing was slightly glowing, "yeah, 'cause that's not weird at all," he stared at it a little while longer. He was absolutely certain he hadn't seen a glowing envelope earlier; or just a white envelope for that matter, the glowing effect might have been from the weird sake. Something told him it wasn't from any of the Espada; the Espada were to white as the Shinigamis were to black: they saw it so often they tended to bedazzle their thing in other colours. Also, when Gin had picked up the envelope (which had taken the greater portion of five minutes), it smelt like roses, and no one in Hueco Mundo, except Charlotte Culhorne, though he tended to go for lilacs, smelt like roses. "What the fuck…?" He flipped over the envelope so the front was facing him; it read, it curly, pink sparkly writing: Ichimaru Gin and Company.

Eyeing the envelope skeptically, he wasn't sure if he should open it. It probably was from Charlotte Culhorne, and the lord knows Gin didn't want anything from that guy. The last thing Mr. Culhorne had given him was pink, glitter mascara. Gin was almost afraid of what he'd find appropriate for children.

"Yeah…what the hell," Gin shrugged, ripping open the envelope from the top and pulled out the little card that was inside. It too was pink and glittery, just like the writing on the front, with a few hearts and a lethargic-looking puppy on the front. Gin's nose crinkled as if he smelt something disgusting, but opened the card anyways. He was then showered in blue sparkles; they flew out at him from the inside of the card.

"Ack!" He wiped his face, the sparkles still floating to the ground. Groaning, he in vain tried to get the sparkles off his face, but he knew they'd probably be there for the next half-year. Sparkles were a devious form of combat; not only did they last forever and were quite embarrassing when pointed out mid-battle, but if they got in your eyes, they were deadly. Or at least felt like it.

Finally recovering from the glitter-attack, Gin actually got around to reading the card. Pink glittery gel pen was scribbled on the plain inside, annotating the simple text with hearts and stars. He squinted to read the cursive writing in the shadowy room.

Congrats, hon, I'm sorry I couldn't make it,

You know how Ol' Yama is.

But I hope you're not having too much fun without me, honey!

Now for my two names, may I suggest Tomitaro and Jojiro?

It means First Son and Second Son, and, as far as I know, these are your firsts ;)

I'll come over and see you sometime, kid.

It wasn't so much the note, but who it was signed by that made his knees weak.

Love,

Matsumoto Rangiku

He put the card back into its envelope and slipped it into his pants pocket. Then, he went back to bed, suddenly very tired.