Minako felt her chest constrict further as she made her way through the busy hospital corridor. The flourescent ceiling lights were almost painfully bright, even through the dark lenses of her sunglasses. Nurses and doctors bustled past, giving her cursory nods as they hurried about. They obviously had no idea who she was. Minako was sorely tempted to grab one of them by the stethoscope and demand to know what was going on.
Taking a breath to try and calm herself, Minako's eyes sought the room number she was looking for. It was getting more and more difficult to see properly as her eyes brimmed with frightened tears.
This place held no good memories for her, even though many of them were no longer real. She wondered if she was about to experience her worst memory yet. At that, Minako shivered and tried to push her dark thoughts away.
The phone call she had received earlier was the stuff of her nightmares. It was rare for Shacho to halt a recording session for any reason, and the grim expression he wore made Minako's stomach feel as though it had been turned to ice.
"You'll want to take this," her manager murmured, after leading the singer to the quiet of his office and handing her the phone.
A quick check of the display told her the call was coming from Rei's cell.
"Rei? What's the matter?"
She had been shocked to hear the voice of one of Rei's elders respond instead.
"I'm terribly sorry to interrupt your work, Minako-chan, but I'm afraid there's been an emergency—"
The singer had very nearly broken the phone as her grip tightened. She barely recognized her own voice as she asked what had happened. Then, without a word, she had bolted from the studio and dashed headlong towards the hospital on foot. She knew from experience that the two locations were not far from one another.
Rei had collapsed. Fainted. For no apparent reason. She had been sick recently too, and seemed pale and tired a lot of the time, but kept insisting that she was fine...
"I've heard that before," the idol had grumbled in response, but was unable to continue the argument any further as Rei's lips had very effectively distracted her, and soon proved she wasn't the slightest bit tired that night...
Unbidden, thoughts of Rei's late mother crept into Minako's head.
Hino Risa had been young too—seemingly healthy, and then—
"Oh, god, no—" Minako choked out as she ran. "Not that—anything but that—" She had never run so fast before in her life.
Minako finally found the right room and took another deep breath, terrified of what she might see when she went inside. The idea of her Reiko being hooked up to the same faceless machines that still haunted the idol some nights was almost too much to bear...
Quietly, she pushed open the door and peered in to see Rei sound asleep—she felt a pang at the sight of an intravenous drip in Rei's arm—and tried to return the small smile that the Shinto elder sitting at the bedside gave her as he stood and bowed.
Minako hastened forward to grasp Rei's hand, her eyes falling on a large bandage that covered Rei's elbow.
"She landed on it when she fainted," the priest whispered, answering Minako's unspoken question. "That poor arm of hers has seen its share of injuries through the years—she still has a scar from when she fell out of a tree once."
Minako couldn't help the tiniest of smiles, remembering the night Rei had first shared that particular story with her.
"The doctor said she's going to be fine, Minako-chan. You don't need to worry—"
"But then why did she collapse, Toshihiro-sensei?" Minako struggled to keep her voice low. "Rei wouldn't just pass out for no reason!"
"I know, Minako-chan, I know. She was just playing a game with some kids who were visiting the shrine. She seemed fine one minute and the next—"
Minako removed her sunglasses and ran a hand over her face, trying not to lose her composure. She could see it all too clearly in her head, and knew she would be seeing it again that night when she slept. If she slept.
"It's not like her though, Sensei! Rei's always been so strong! She has a lot of—um, a lot of—"
"Stamina?" Toshihiro's eyes twinkled mischievously as Minako felt her cheeks burn.
She nearly jumped out of her skin as Toshihiro placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Minako-chan. I shouldn't make jokes when you're upset. But I promise you—she's all right."
Minako wiped quickly at her damp cheeks. "I keep—I keep thinking of her m-mother—"
"Oh, no, nono—it's nothing like that—"
The idol pulled away to stare at the priest, feeling her heart leap into her throat. "So there is something wrong! Toshihiro-sensei, you have to tell me—"
Minako spun towards the voice so quickly that she very nearly gave herself whiplash. Rei was beginnng to stir.
"I do believe that's my cue to give you two some privacy. I need to get back to Hikawa." Toshihiro winked and stepped into the corridor as Rei opened her eyes and met Minako's worried gaze with a sheepish smile.
"Reiko—" Minako felt her voice threatening to break, and bit her lip to halt her speech. So many words and emotions were vying for her attention that she didn't trust herself to speak.
Wordlessly, Rei shuffled over in the hospital bed and patted the thin mattress, indicating that the idol should join her. Minako sat down cautiously, wanting desperately to hold Rei as tightly as she could, but at the same time petrified she might cause more damage.
As if she had read her thoughts, Rei grasped Minako's arm and tugged her closer, pulling the idol down until her head was resting on Rei's chest. Minako could hear Rei's heart pounding beneath her ear, and couldn't stop the tears that began to fall at the wonderful, reassuring sound.
"Hey, hey—what's the matter, Mina? I'm okay, really—I just—"
"You scared me, Reiko!" Minako burst out, unable to keep the accusation out of her voice. "I told you that you needed to see a doctor—I know you haven't been well, and now—you—you—"
Rei's fingers slid into Minako's hair, instantly calming her down. She blushed, feeling faintly ashamed that she was the one who was being comforted, while Rei was the one lying in the hospital bed.
"I didn't mean to upset you, love," Rei said softly.
"I thought—I th-thought—" Minako buried her face in Rei's chest, trying desperately not to start sobbing. She felt Rei's arms tighten around her, and a kiss was pressed to the top of her head.
"I'm just fine, Mina. I'm not going anywhere. You're stuck with us."
Minako blinked at the last word and sat up to meet Rei's dark eyes. There was a barely controlled gleam of delight in them and the idol felt her heart begin to flutter with excitement.
"'Us?'" she breathed. "You mean—"
Rei nodded, wearing a smile that could have powered all of Japan, it was so bright. "Us," she repeated, cupping Minako's cheek and drawing her close.
Minako returned the smile, her tears returning afresh for a far better reason, and eagerly met Rei's mouth with her own.
"So, how long until we get to meet her?" Minako asked a short while later, once again nestled comfortably against Rei's chest.
"Just over seven months, I think. The doctor wants to run some more tests first. And how do you know it's not a boy, Mina?"
"I don't. But if I'm right, I'm never going to let you hear the end of it." She smirked at Rei who chuckled and rolled her eyes. Minako placed a gentle hand on her wife's abdomen, convinced she could feel a tiny heartbeat under her palm. "D'you—think I'll be a good parent, Reiko?" she asked quietly, unable to quell the nervousness she felt about raising a child. Her relationship with her own family had always been far from ideal, nor had her youth been exactly what one could call 'normal'. She had wondered more than once if the idea of her being someone's mother wasn't completely laughable.
"You'll be the favourite, I'm sure of that."
"Rei, I'm serious—"
"I know, Mina. So am I. We've talked about this before, remember?" Rei laced her fingers through Minako's so both of their hands were resting on her stomach. "You're already completely in love with her. I think that's a great place to start. You're going to be so amazing—you already are."
Minako smiled at their joined hands, her cheeks warming as her anxiety faded. "Thanks, love."
"I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it."
She peered up and met Rei's steady gaze. "Are—are you nervous at all, Reiko?"
"I'm terrified," Rei whispered. "But at the same time I'm so happy. Does that make any sense?" She blinked rapidly, her eyes growing bright with tears. "And I guess this is the hormone overload I've heard so much about," she grumbled, making Minako giggle.
"I bet you're going to have the most hilarious cravings. I can't wait to see that—" She trailed off suddenly, only just realizing that Rei had let something slip earlier. "Wait. You—you said 'her', Reiko." Minako grinned at the muttered curse that followed. "You know it's a girl, don't you?"
"Maybe." Rei smirked. "But I'm not telling."
Minako scoffed. "You already did!"
"It was a, uh, slip of the tongue."
"Yes, you're very good at that."
"Mina!" Rei burst out laughing. "I—don't know for sure. It's just a feeling—"
"Yes, well, your feelings are usually pretty accurate." Minako nuzzled Rei's cheek before kissing her lightly. "Especially when you're feeling me."
"Good god, our child hasn't even been born yet and you're already teaching her dirty jokes."
Minako couldn't help a huge grin at the words, 'our child'. She burrowed closer to Rei and breathed in her familiar scent. She let out a contented sigh. "We should name her after your mother."
Rei froze suddenly and Minako was petrified that she had said the wrong thing. Then, without warning, Rei buried her face against the idol's neck, her whole body shuddering with emotion.
"I'm sorry Reiko—" Minako said hastily. "If it's not right—I just thought—"
"No, Mina, no—it's—perfect." Rei's tears were hot against her skin. "Thank you."
Minako felt her own cheeks growing damp as she held Rei close. She whispered the name to herself.
It was perfect.
After a moment Rei sighed shakily and pulled away. "Stupid hormones." She smiled wryly and wiped her eyes. "It's funny. I never thought—"
"You never thought what, love?" Minako prompted.
"I just... I never thought I'd ever have a good memory of this place."
Minako's breath caught in her throat at Rei's words. She glanced down again, towards where their hands still rested on Rei's body, and felt her heart skip a beat as she thought of the daughter they were going to have.
A delighted smile spread across the idol's face as she looked back at Rei.
"Me neither, Reiko."
"Still," Rei quirked an eyebrow. "I think I'm quite ready to go home now. Think they'll let me out of here if I ask nicely?"
"They will if I have anything to say about it."
"God, I love you, Mina."
Minako giggled and tenderly found Rei's lips as she reached for the call button.
Author notes: I decided against boring people with the semantics and fine print and such of how two women can have a child together. This idea simply hit me and I ran with it because I liked it. I hope you did too. And if you did, please do drop me a line to let me know!