A little background:
Here they live in a country where same-sex marriage is legal.
They used a surrogate mother.
This is my first attempt at something fluffy. So...
"You have your lucky item?"
"And your lunch? Where's your lunch—"
"That's my area, I've got it."
Kazunari zipped the lunch bag he had just finished packing and placed it on the dining room table before returning to the kitchen. Shintarou scowled at his nonchalant attitude.
It was Aika's first day of school—of course he was worried, how could he not be worried.
Choosing the proper clothes. Making sure her school registration was problem free. Packing her lunch. Her hair. Making friends—her hair.
Worry settled further into his expression. Shintarou reached out and felt at the straight, green hair. It was something he always worried about... he couldn't help but think that the lack of a mother in her life would show through her hair.
"How are your pigtails? Are they too tight?" He traced his fingers along the bands. "Should we redo them?"
Aika closed her green eyes and shook her head no. The small girl's perfectly symmetrical pigtails swung along with her.
"Hm." Shintarou was clearly dissatisfied and unsure of her answer.
Are they really alright?
Kazunari reentered the dining area, pulling him out of his thoughts for a second.
"You have work soon, please actually eat instead of fretting over every little thing." Kazunari said, sighing at what a useless bundle of nerves his husband was. He laid out breakfast—toast for the two adults and a bowl of cereal for the little one.
"I know." Shintarou admitted, stubbornly, letting go of Aika's hair and sitting upright. "I just can't—"
"Ah ah! Hands!" Kazunari called.
Aika froze, tiny fingers poised mere centimeters away from her bowl, then yanked her hands away and hid them in her lap. She tried, but failed, to hide a small, mischievous smile by sinking in her seat, hiding the lower half of her face. Without a word, and without acknowledging her Kazunari's stern look really, she grabbed her spoon and quietly began eating.
Kazunari looked back at Shintarou who looked like he'd been on the verge of a heart attack. He snickered.
"Calm down, she didn't get anything on her clothes."
"I... I know that," he replied, still sounding as if she had.
After a few seconds of silent eating, Kazunari looked at him and said, "But you know she'll probably come home covered in all sorts of gunk, right?
"That's not the point, Kazunari!" Shintarou said quite loudly, the annoyance in his voice outweighing the concern.
"So what? If she comes back dirty, it means she painted, she played—it'll mean today was a success!" Kazunari said, laughing.
"Papa, am I supposed to get dirty?" Aika asked, eyes focused on not spilling any milk from her spoon as she brought it to her mouth.
Kazunari nodded, a big smile on his face.
"Yeah—if you're dirty it means you got to meet a lot of new friends and played on everything."
"Urgh—Kazu—don't tell her stuff like that!" Shintarou was turning a little red for some reason.
"Come on, Shin-chan, that's the whole point of preschool is to play and be social. Isn't it?" He smiled, obviously enjoying the conversation.
He gritted his teeth and Kazunari only smiled more. He knew exactly what he was thinking but also knew he'd never say it:
I don't see why she should have to go at all.
His distress was unbelievably charming. And adorable to boot.
"Are you sure you want to drive her?" Takao joked. "I'm worried you might take her to work with you instead."
"I—I'll do it."
"I want to go to work with Daddy." Aika chirped, eyes focused solely on her food. "They don't teach how to be a doctor at pre-K."
Shintarou sighed, sipping on his coffee. His expression softened, going from annoyed to fatherly in an instant.
"No, Aika, school is important."
"Yes," Kazunari said, then locked eyes with his husband. "But it's not the end of the world."
Shintarou opened his mouth as if to say something but stopped himself and nodded instead. He stared into his coffee for a bit, pensive. Then he glanced over at Aika again.
"Is your collar buttoned too tight?"
He reached over the table to readjust it for her and the little girl tried to maneuver her spoon around his fidgeting fingers.
"Kotarou, stop running around! It's not play time!" Kazunari's voice rang out in another corner of the house accompanied by the sound of running feet. A little boy's giggles resounded throughout the house.
"So noisy," Aika commented, sipping at a mug.
Shintarou, sitting next to her, eyed her mug suspiciously. Catching him, Aika brought it closer to her lips so he couldn't see into it.
"Who gave you coffee?"
"The person who makes breakfast," she chimed, gingerly sipping again.
Shintarou sighed. A ten year old drinking coffee at the table for breakfast.
I really don't know what to do with this kid.
"You're not to have coffee yet, we've talked about this, Aika."
Eyes identical to his stared back at him and continued to sip.
The sound of giggling grew louder and Kazunari entered the dining room, hair a mess and carrying a squirming 4-year-old boy over his shoulder.
"Here—now eat." He said placing him in the seat to Shintarou's right.
They'd had a talk the night before. Kotarou was the kind of kid who totally fed off of other's moods. So Shintarou couldn't be too nervous or he'd go to school nervous.
But this is ridiculous.
What he was mentally referring to was his son's appearance. Because of all the running around this hyper-active kid did, his hair was usually a little out of place, but right now… his hair was a mess, his shirt hung on his right shoulder all wrong, and god only knew what kind of mess he'd make of himself once he started eating.
"Kazunari... I'm sorry."
"Hm? What for?" he asked. He looked over to see Shintarou holding a brush in his hand. "Wha—where did you even have that?"
"I wouldn't have to if he weren't such a mess."
Kazunari sighed, smiling in admiration (and giving in because he was right). "Do what you gotta do."
He continued gazing at his usually surly Shin-chan in the one environment he openly softened up.
"Ah." He noticed Aika's mug was empty. "So you finished your chocolate milk?"
"Papa!" she whined, blushing. "It... it's coffee..."
"Eh? As if I'd ever give you coffee!"
Shintarou didn't turn to face her but smiled to himself. The girl still went on about wanting to be a doctor like her father and often stared at his coffee asking why he drank it.
"Daddy?" Kotarou squeaked as Shintarou finally put the brush down.
"I don't wanna go to school."
"Hm..?" Kazunari interjected.
"What about all the new friends, Kotarou?" Shintarou asked. He'd been going on for weeks about meeting other kids.
"Mm..." he paused and pulled a puppy dog look.
"'Mm' isn't a reason this time, sweetie—answer Daddy's question."
"Nm... I was thinking and I already like my old friends," he said, voice shaking.
Aika sighed. "He's going to cry."
"No!" he said to her, voice clearly on the lilt of crying.
"Who are your old friends?" Kazunari asked, curiously.
"My toys and my teddy and you and Daddy and Aika-tan," he said, bottom lip trembling.
Shintarou smiled softly. "We'll always be here but it's important to meet new people. And all of your classmates are looking forward to meeting you. Right, Kazunari?"
"Hm?" Kazunari looked over to him, biting his bottom lip.
"Uh—yeah, yeah. Mhm."
Kotarou looked at him doubtfully and when he saw the concern on his papa's face, tears began to well up.
"Right?" Shintarou asked again, voice threatening.
"I..." Kazunari looked at Kotarou. "Well, if he—"
"Papa, I don't wanna go..."
"I—" don't think he has to go on the first day, is what he almost said, but the death glare he was getting from his partner made him swallow those words. "Your daddy's right. School is good for you. And fun!" He added on, smiling at him.
The tiny, dark-haired boy bit his bottom lip, too, and turned to stare at his food, considerably nervous but obviously conceding. Kazunari fiddled with the knife in his hands for a good few seconds before finally dropping it, reaching across the table, and grabbing the brush Shintarou had set down.
"I'm just… there's just one part still sticking up. Kinda." He mumbled to himself, not daring to look Shin-chan in his eyes.
Shintarou kept his laughter to himself and eyed his daughter.
"More choco—no. Coffee, right?"
"Ah—" Aika blushed then smiled to herself before indignantly replying, "Yes."