Title: The Sleeping Schedule
Genre: Romance / Drama / Slice of life
Pairing(s): Minato x Kagari, Minato x Harem
Warning: Contains profanity and open discussion of sexual matters, as well as elements of slash.
A/N: This story is a romantic drama that takes place four years after the Sekirei Plan, focusing on the development of Minato's relationship with Kagari. It will be written entirely from Minato's POV (first person). While Minato's other Sekirei have their feelings reciprocated to some degree (except Kusano due to her extreme youth), Kagari does not. (The manga, if you have yet to read it, provides sound canonical evidence for his romantic attraction towards Minato in the later chapters.)
I want to explore the possibility of romance between him and Minato, but in a realistic way that takes into account their man-to-man relationship as well as the complication of Kagari's changing gender identity. Though Kagari starts off in the series as a cis male, the ongoing feminisation of his body does eventually affect his personality and subsequent behaviour towards Minato. Based on Minato's interpretation of Kagari's gender, I will still refer to Kagari by the male pronoun, though the exact position where he falls on the gender spectrum can get a little murky. I should also mention that my interpretation of Kagari's biological sex is that of a true hermaphrodite, meaning he has both functional male and female reproductive organs.
Also, many thanks to Amputation, who volunteered to be my beta.
Disclaimer: I do not own Sekirei.
Introduction – Reflections of Six Feathers
The conclusion of the Sekirei Plan was four years in the past, now.
By some inexplicable stroke of luck – or the guidance of the gods, as my Sekirei put it – we had survived that ordeal intact, if rather worse for wear. Had I known the enormity of what was to befall us, I'd probably have acted like any sensible Ashikabi would have and made the decision to flee with my remaining Sekirei. Unlike other ill-fated pairings, we had the power and resources to brute-force our way out of the tournament. But what would running have accomplished (aside branding me as the most abominable of cowards in Tsukiumi's eyes)?
So we stayed and fought for our future: a future in which humans and Sekirei were free.
In the end, it had been our combined courage, love and belief in each other that saw us through. Kamikura Island had been torn asunder in the final clash, and we had emerged from its ruins broken and battered, but we still had one another. That was all that mattered. 'Ikuhisashiku' – forever and ever – was the vow we had sworn, and none of us had been willing to break it, whatever the cost.
The aftermath was a slow recovery process. As one, we'd returned to Maison Izumo – the place we'd called home for a year – and tried to put the pieces of our lives back together. Some of the pieces did not fit as well as they used to. After all, Sekirei were born to fight, not carry out dreary, mundane human existences. Now that the Sekirei Plan had ended, even the reason to fight had been stripped away, leaving my Sekirei at a loss of what to do with themselves.
Nevertheless, we were resilient and found ways to adapt. Day by day, step by step, we made our way forward into our future.
Our first step involved getting legal recognition for our marriages. Thanks to the MBI's shenanigans and the ominous visage of Kouten in the sky, the Sekirei Plan had become widespread knowledge across the capital. Any Ashikabi walking down the street with a posse of Sekirei automatically drew the eyes of bystanders, but the sight itself was not uncommon. The reality of this phenomenon had been further enforced by MBI's amendment to marriage laws, allowing for polygamous unions between Ashikabi and multiple Sekirei.
While we had no desire to be indebted to the mega-corporation, I was glad for this amendment. Social acceptance in Japan was hard to come by for any relationship outside the archetypal heterosexual model of a man and a woman. For a man married to several wives, the only outcome would be a blackened reputation and ousting from society. It was small recompense for the trauma we had suffered at their hands, but the MBI's intervention ensured that I was able to continue my life as the Ashikabi of my six beloved Sekirei.
So, some three weeks after things had settled down, we paid a visit to the registry office (to finally register Tsukiumi's status as legal wife, among others). The authentication process was simple: Sekirei would have their crests examined by an expert, and the Ashikabi would provide further evidence of the union by kissing their Sekirei and exposing their wings. One by one, my Sekirei had stepped up to reveal their crests, sealing the deal – as it were – with a kiss from me. (While the others were only too eager to receive their kiss, Kagari had blushed throughout the whole incident and refused to look at me afterwards.)
With the legalities of my rather… eccentric relationships sorted out, I signed up for college exams again, passing this time thanks to my newfound confidence. It seemed like an eternity ago that I sought to gain entrance to the prestigious Shintou Teito University. Having experienced life-and-death situations during that thrice-forsaken Sekirei Plan, reaching this pinnacle now felt so… insignificant, like an arbitrary goal every student in Japan set out to achieve. What did getting good scores have to do with protecting the ones you love?
But I had a family to provide for, which meant I needed a reliable source of income. Since the engineering field not only contained good career prospects but also catered to my love of maths and physics, I decided to enrol for a mechanical engineering degree. The next three years passed by in a haze of eating, studying, working part-time, mingling with my Sekirei, and if busyness allowed for it, sleeping. Finally, I graduated with top scores, and went on to become a civil engineer.
During the time I'd plugged away at my studies, Musubi had embraced her love of running and took up a job as a door-to-door mailperson. It'd baffled her employers that she could prove more efficient than people with transport; more than once they had remarked about how she could be a professional athlete with 'speed like that'. The brighter ones among us had promptly dissuaded her from this course of action. Spirited as she was, Musubi never had understood the art of restraint, and a series of indisputable wins would only draw unwanted attention to her and to our family. Fortunately, she was happy to proceed as before, carrying out her everyday tasks with a contentment known only to those simple of heart and mind.
Kusano – or Kuu-chan, as we called her – was the youngest amongst my Sekirei, and had reached the age to start attending the local kindergarten. I remember her first day well – it was a particularly heart-wrenching occasion. Being so accustomed to having familiar faces around her, Kuu-chan couldn't bear to part with me. Her huge, watery eyes and plaintive cries of "Onii-chan!" tore at my heart even as I stepped further and further away, assuring her that I would return by the day's end. When I'd finally returned, she flew into my arms, her tears drenching the front of my sweater. In response, I'd cradled her tight against my chest, murmuring promises that I would always be there for her.
Things gradually eased after that, with Kuu-chan slowly becoming less anxious with each separation. However, she showed little interest in her studies save for botany classes or outdoor education, where she could walk amongst her beloved plants. Other complications arose when her Sekirei heritage asserted itself, manifesting in accelerated intellectual, psychological and physical development. She was miles ahead of the other children by the time the semester ended, and we were forced to change facilities (and eventually schools) as not to draw attention to her.
Truth be told, I still don't know what Matsu did with herself in these intervening years. Insofar as I could tell, she remained her reclusive genius self, locking herself away in her room and hacking her way into the information systems of her choice. (Any further explanation on her part just went over my head.) She would emerge from her foxhole to join the rest of us for dinner and gossip, as well as the occasional molestation attempt. (The last never made it past Miya's vigil, much to the relief of myself and my five other jealous Sekirei.)
Considering how little I saw of her, it hadn't sat right with me to leave her to her own devices. So one day I approached her with a peace offering – a game of chess in exchange for her best behaviour. (Chess is one of my hobbies; I was a regional tournament winner back in my prime.) She'd pouted at the terms, but was otherwise delighted. Her ability to calculate the permutations of every move was nothing short of breathtaking, assuring her victory even within the move itself. I did manage to win a handful of our games, but I suspected that she'd allowed those 'victories' if only to keep from discouraging me entirely.
Tsukiumi? She'd placed herself under Miya's tutelage with the intention of preparing herself as the official housewife. She was devoted to her role, immersing herself in every practical task pertinent to managing a household. She would sketch out weekly budgets, conduct shopping trips for groceries and household items, clean the place, research options for breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, hone her cooking skills ("I will make the best food that Minato has ever tasted, mark my words"), and plan activities and outings around our work schedules. She'd even gone as far to make plans for our future children (to my bafflement and growing dread, though I found myself hard-pressed to curb her enthusiasm). It perplexed me how a woman so proud and regal could be so domestic, but that was Tsukiumi for you.
Perhaps it had something to do with her affinity for wind and its ever-changing nature, but Kazehana had adapted the most easily of all of us. She gave up (some of) her drunkard ways and took up the pen. The bulk of her writing comprised of erotic fiction, often featuring a superhuman buxom seductress, a meek, kind-hearted college dropout and a tale of destined love. Much to my dismay, the resemblance between her fictional characters and certain real-life ones had often hit a little too close to home. Even so, Kazehana had a gift for the literary arts, and little by little, her popularity grew and her titles filled the bookshelves.
Indeed, her popularity had reached the point where Kazehana started to accumulate some stock at home. While Matsu had taken to reading the material with glee, my other Sekirei were less amused. Kagari had given a book the cursory glance-through before setting it alight, an expression of disgust on his face. True to her oblivious nature, Musubi had kept asking for definitions of the more… questionable vocabulary, eliciting grimaces and flushes of embarrassment all around. Worst of all, Kuu-chan had demanded that I read the books to her as bedtime stories. I had been saved from replying when Tsukiumi stormed into the room with a drenched volume in hand, declaring all-out war on Kazehana. The Wind Sekirei had simply brushed her off with lascivious laughter and a wink in my direction. (I was sick for a week, having caught a cold in the dousing match that ensued.)
Then Miya had decided to step in and confiscate the books, stating that "all media containing descriptions of lewd or illicit sexual acts are not allowed at Maison Izumo". Said books met their end in a funeral pyre (courtesy of a very satisfied-looking Kagari). While Matsu had looked on with a kicked-puppy expression, Kazehana's serene smile did not waver even as her precious literature had disintegrated into ashes. She'd later assured me that she had 'more books concealed in secret places', and that I was welcome to 'tap into those secret places' if I so desired. (Much nose-bleeding followed.)
This brought me to my sixth and final Sekirei, Kagari. Although he was arguably the most adjusted of my Sekirei to human life, he had to overcome serious obstacles to reintegrate into society.
I confess I didn't – and still don't – know the whole of it. (Kagari's reticence about the subject hadn't helped, that's for certain.) Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that his body was feminised, but couldn't be changed back. Or that Japanese society required people to conform to either binary gender – man or woman – and forced him to pick one of the two. Or that he simply hadn't wanted to go through the inconvenience of concealing his female characteristics. Whatever his reasons, Kagari had chosen to relinquish his entire past life – including his career as a host – and re-establish himself as a woman in public.
It was a testament to the mettle of his character that he bore the transition with any humour at all ("I don't understand how you women can walk on these death-traps known as heels all day"). Even so, his struggle was plain; he hadn't the fortune to undergo anything so simple as a straightforward change. In the search for his true identity, he had vacillated from being over-the-top feminine, to resuming his previous masculine persona, to shutting himself in his room for days on end. Those days had me fraught with worry; while Kagari had been always aloof, he must have been positively miserable to resort to that degree of self-isolation. But even as my heart ached to help him, I understood that this was something that he alone had to go through.
Therefore, everyone had breathed a metaphorical sigh of relief when he'd finally found a happy medium and settled on it.
While some things had changed about him, others remained the same. He'd grown his hair to his shoulders, but forwent make-up (with that pretty a face, why would he even need it?). He'd experimented with female apparel (including the aforementioned death-trap heels), but shied away from the more ostensibly feminine garments. (The few occasions the others had offered to put him in a dress were promptly met with threats of incineration.) His speech and mannerisms were largely unchanged – he was still even-tempered, polite and reserved – though his voice took on a softer inflection and he'd developed a habit of tugging on his hair when flustered. He'd even maintained his flirtatious ways, though he took care to direct those at the female population only.
I suspect that this compromise was Kagari's way of reconciling his feminine side with choice remnants from his past male identity. For that, I was grateful. Despite his feminine appearance, I still viewed Kagari as a man, and one I greatly respected at that. I could not have borne it if he had changed into an entirely different person. Although I had no control over the matter, I still felt responsible for his ordeal, as it was my presence that had triggered his feminisation. That he was still 'Kagari' reassured me, set me at ease.
Such formed the basis of the next four years living together with my Sekirei. Although we were by no means normal, we had set up and settled into our own pattern of normalcy. We would share mealtimes, united by our love of Miya's cooking (which was often replaced by Tsukiumi's cooking due to her growing presence in the kitchen, though Musubi's curry remained a big hit). In the evenings, we would lounge about the porch, engaging in animated discussion about the latest events or one of the many and bizarre competitions for my affections. Bedtimes proved more problematic, with my Sekirei squabbling over who would get to sleep beside me (until Miya intervened, insisting that we all take separate rooms and make some restitutions for the time that we'd been freeloading). Finally, on every weekend, I would go out on an individual, timed date with one of my Sekirei, based on who won the latest competition (Kagari made a point to exclude himself from those).
Of course, this idyllic scene remained idyllic for only so long. When the issue of my 'unfulfilled husbandly duties' was called into prominence, things became much more complicated.
From the beginning, I was aware that the bond between Sekirei and Ashikabi carried certain less-than-innocent implications. Though Sekirei were almost indistinguishable from humans in appearance, they were much more primal in their biological design. The drive to find, protect and mate ('mate' being the operative word) with their Ashikabi was all-consuming in Sekirei – it was their effective purpose for living.
It had taken some clarification from Matsu, but I'd discovered that my Sekirei would become… aroused just by being close to me (though the effects were reproduced on my end, as I was far from immune to their womanly charms). In short, if I did not consummate the union with them (and continue to do so), my Sekirei would tear themselves (and me) apart with the sheer force of their discontentment and frustration.
Now, any red-blooded male would have killed for the opportunity to be surrounded by beautiful women who were constantly lusting after him. But this was beyond any adolescent sexual fantasy. I had six Sekirei whom I loved, whose needs were my responsibility to satisfy. With the exception of Kuu-chan, who had yet to reach physical maturity, and Kagari, who didn't seem to be interested in me that way, I had several wives who wanted me, who needed me to take them to bed and make love to them. It wasn't a matter of having sex with them at my leisure and entertainment; it was a matter of helping them fulfill the purpose of their existence and attain happiness.
The problem? Miya strictly forbade sexual relations at the Inn.
I understood her reasons: she was protecting Kuu-chan's innocence and preventing the chaos that would erupt if my Sekirei were to throw down their inhibitions and launch themselves at me. But even as she expressed her sympathy for our plight, Miya remained immovable on her decision. In retrospect, she was silently nudging us – my Sekirei and I – towards finding a solution together, though that hadn't seemed the case at the time.
Her plan succeeded: my Sekirei took matters into their own hands.
Kazehana had instigated the entire affair. She did, after all, promise that we'd 'do what comes after a kiss once the Sekirei Plan was over'. Taking advantage of Miya's absence on her late husband's monthly anniversary, the Wind Sekirei had lured me into her room under the guise of 'needing a favour' and advanced on me. However, the others caught wind of what she was up to and rushed to stop us, each demanding their turn. In the end, nothing had come out of it but more bickering. That's when I decided we had to address the matter as a team, not just individuals looking after their own agenda.
Frustration and a united goal – sex with me – forged teamwork out of unlikely characters. Putting aside their differences, my Sekirei hatched a plan: to have me bundled off to a hotel for 'conjugal purposes'. I had expected the most resistance from Tsukiumi – of all my Sekirei, she was the most possessive of me. Ironically, it was through her rigorous planning that the plan (and subsequent plans) took place at all.
However, this particular plan turned out to be only a partial success. It was lacking on two important points: my physical limitations and sustainability.
I'd rather not go into detail about the first occasion – I was completely inexperienced, nervous as a frightened lamb, and aroused beyond my wildest imagination. As much as I'd wished I had the capability, I could not handle four ravenous wives within the same day. My mind was still raring to go, but my body just fell flat on me. But my wives were willing to forgive me my mishaps, so long as they got to repeat the experience again.
After some renegotiation, the number of attending wives was reduced to one; the opportunity to bed me fell upon the girl who happened to be going out on her weekend date with me. Even so, these 'dates' had only taken place once or twice a week, and there were four wives to go through. Even under ideal circumstances, each wife still had to wait a minimum of three weeks to have their turn again. If she managed to secure consecutive wins in the 'date competitions', she would deprive the others of their turns. Conversely, if she hadn't managed to win, she would have to wait weeks, possibly months between turns. It made for a horrible system, and my Sekirei's rivalry grew fiercer even as they took pity on each other, giving up their turns so that another could have a fair chance at being with me.
Things grew still more complicated when Kusano learned about the true nature of the plan – and that she had been excluded from it. Given our day-to-day shenanigans and Kusano's accelerated development, it did not take her very long to grasp the full implications of what 'mating with one's Ashikabi' meant. My other Sekirei did make an effort to be discreet; even the ever-exuberant Musubi had managed to keep mum about the subject. Regardless, Kusano picked up that I had been up to something with everyone else, and putting two and two together, arrived at the conclusion that I was 'making love' with her fellow love rivals.
And she wanted in on it.
Even though she had reached full sexual maturation within three years, I could not bring myself to contemplate the idea, let alone go through with it. It wasn't all that long ago that she was handing me her crayon drawings. While she had indeed blossomed into a beautiful young woman, I saw her as no more than my younger sister. A younger sister whom I loved, would lavish my attentions upon and give my life to protect.
But to sleep with her? It was a crime of the most abhorrent kind.
So I begged her to give me time. I told her that sex was something that should only occur when the parties involved were ready. But I was not ready: I had yet to outgrow the view that she was a child under my protection, and in doing so, remove the mental blocks that prevented me from recognising her as a woman worthy of desire.
To my relief, Kusano had accepted my explanation, adding that she wasn't ready either and that her demand was fuelled by jealousy. She had an uncanny wisdom like that, my Kuu-chan.
Nevertheless, this brought into light the difficulty of our situation. The tension between my Sekirei was fast reaching crisis point, held in check only by Miya's ironclad prohibition of violence and misdemeanour. What we needed was a long-term solution. Said solution required that I bed my wives on a fair and regular basis, and that we had the living arrangements to do so.
Although Maison Izumo had been our home for many years – the good and the bad – the time had come for us to leave. Pooling our not-inconsiderable finances together, we gathered a healthy sum that enabled us to rent out a nearby two-storey house. It'd been a bittersweet occasion when we'd packed up our things and stepped out over the threshold of the Inn. Musubi, Matsu, and Kuu-chan all had tears streaming down their faces (I too, had cried my fair share of tears), Tsukiumi had been subdued, Kagari's expression had been as open as I had even seen on the reserved Sekirei, and Kazehana had been wearing a smile of gentle contentment. Miya had stood at the head, warmth and pride shining in her eyes. After photographs were taken to commemorate this event, we bade our favourite landlady goodbye with the promise to visit every weekend.
We moved into our new living quarters with minimal hassle. By privilege of being the youngest, Kuu-chan was given first choice of rooms (she'd opted for the one on the second floor that faced the east). Kagari had followed suit with a room on the first floor, as did Matsu (she needed the space to set up her complex network of computers, wiretaps and various electronic gadgets). Having always been close, Musubi and Tsukiumi had decided to resume their previous arrangement and share a room – they took up the master bedroom upstairs. Kazehana had claimed that she needed no room of her own, simply falling asleep wherever she managed to pass out. That left one small room on the first floor, which was where I took up residence.
Thus our new life began.