I am going to be a father. I never believed I could feel like this again, the last time being when I saw Inora walk down the aisle at our wedding. A euphoric high with a large dose of pride mixed in. A child, a baby boy or girl, to love and protect. I felt tears escape as Shigure and Ayame patted me on the back and chatted excitedly, though through my daze I couldn’t make out what they were saying. Finally, a concerned voice in the sea of excitement cut through my fogged mind.
“Hey, are you ok?” Kyo muttered. Ok? Who couldn’t be ok at this moment?
“No,” I whipped around as the sound of Inora’s choked voice cut through me like a knife. I had only heard that voice from her on one other occasion; it was the voice of when she was trying to hold back her tears. Before I even realized what was happening she squirmed out of Kyo’s embrace and ran down the hall and out of the house.
I stood there dumbstruck before my brain was able to start catching up. She was upset, that much was obvious. But why? Women in this position are known to be emotional so she left so no one would see her cry. Everyone knew about this particular quirk of Inora’s, no one could see her cry. Well no one other then myself anyway. But that still leaves the question of why she would be crying. Joy? Or maybe… no, that couldn’t be it.
“What the…” Kyo trailed off staring at the door, indeed everyone was staring at where she had just vanished. I forced my feet to move down the hall and outside after her. I scanned the yard and quickly found her sitting against the fence, her arms wrapped around her stomach and her knees propped up with her forehead resting on them. As I drew closer I saw her shoulders shaking with her sobs. It felt like my heart sank and settled somewhere around my navel, from the way she was curled in on herself it was clear it wasn’t tears of joy.
“Inora,” I whispered and she jumped slightly as if I had shouted at her. She slowly looked up at me, her eyes were already red and her face damp but what concerned me more was that her expression was full of shame, guilt, and fear. I practically flung myself to my knees at her side and gathered her up in my arms.
“I’m sorry,” she sobbed and for a second I thought she was trying to apologize for crying. “I… can’t. I can’t, I’m not… ready.” She cried harder and turned her head into my chest. She says she can’t. My mind struggled to find her meaning as I rubbed her back waiting for her to calm down. She couldn’t possibly mean… that she doesn’t want the child. Right?
“Inora?” I asked softly once she had calmed a little. “Do you not want the child?” Silence. “You don’t… love our baby?” I choked out. I don’t understand. There is no way she doesn’t love our baby. I already love it, how could I not? It is a creation of Inora and myself. Our baby will be perfect. I felt her stiffen in my arms, my heart felt like it was going to shatter. Then quite suddenly she scrambled up to her knees and grabbed the front of my shirt. Her eyes pleading with me as she looked into mine.
“Hatori, I already love it. That’s why… I can’t. I’m only 21 how can anyone trust me with a kid? I don’t deserve to be trusted with and innocent, helpless child. You know I make mistakes; I’m not responsible enough to be trusted. Don’t you understand?” I almost laughed with relief.
“That’s what you’re worried about? That you won’t be a good mother?” I asked.
“Well… yeah,” she blushed and looked away, and it was then that I noticed that she had a certain…glow about her. She loved the child inside her. She was simply concerned about her parenting skills. I know for a fact that she would be an amazing mother; all it will take is for me to prove it to her. Then it came to me, it would be perfect, and I couldn’t help but grin. However, I still needed to help her in this moment before I could do that.
“Yes, you have made some mistakes but that’s what will make you a better mother than someone who hasn’t. You’re mistakes have taught you responsibility despite your age. Do you think I would have married you if you were immature? If you love the child, you will do what’s best for them. I know you will be amazing. Also,” I grabbed her chin so I could look right into her eyes, “You’re not alone.”
The look on her face was priceless. Her eyes widened and her cheeks turned red, then she closed her eyes and I could tell she was silently reprimanding herself for forgetting, if only for a moment, that I would always be here for her. She finally managed to pull up a shaky smile that I could tell was only for my benefit.
“I’m sorry. I know you’re so happy… I didn’t want to ruin your moment,” she muttered. Ah, so that’s why she looked guilty earlier.
“Nothing could ruin this moment for me, but I would love for you to share in it,” I said and placed a kiss in her hair.
“You’ll be an amazing dad, and if you’re there with me then…” she trailed off, staring into the distance. I shook my head and helped her to her feet. She could raise this child alone, she’s such a strong person, but she doesn’t have to. We’re a team, and always will be. I can no longer imagine my life without her by my side.
“Are you ready to go back in? I can make them leave if you’d like,” I said and she gave a chuckle.
“No, they don’t have to leave. You can talk to them while I get a better grip,” she said before really laughing and walking to the house. I really didn’t want to leave her alone but I needed to make a phone call. If anyone could make her realize…
“Ha’ri! Come, let’s sit,” Aya called as soon as I walked in the door. He began pulling me to the living room before I could respond. Inora gave me a reassuring smile before heading to our bedroom, so I let myself be dragged.
“Is she ok?” Kyo asked softly from the couch.
“For the most part. It is a lot to take in at once,” I said slowly.
“Well of course it is, now tell me-” Gure started but I cut him off.
“Hold that thought,” I said before turning into the kitchen. Tohru was in there making tea for everyone already; I smiled politely at whatever she said before picking up the phone to dial the familiar number.
“Hello?” Momiji’s boy like voice rang through the receiver.
“Momiji,” I said in greeting. “I wonder if you would mind coming over, Inora-”
“Sure! I’ll be right over” he said brightly before hanging up. I chuckled lightly at his eagerness before hanging up my end. I didn’t even get a chance to say why.
“Inora’s worried isn’t she,” Tohru voiced it more like a statement then a question, I nodded silently to her. “Mom was worried when she first found out about me too. I can imagine… Inora isn’t that much older than me, and to have an innocent baby to protect, it would be scary.”
“She can do it,” I found myself repeating. There’s no one I would trust with my child more.
“I certainly never said she couldn’t,” she said, smiling serenely, before turning back to the stove. I had noticed that she and Kyo living together seemed to have calmed them both down a bit. Kyo doesn’t fly off the handle as often and Tohru doesn’t apologize as much. They are quite good for each other. I went back to the living room and Shigure was about to ask me something again when a blond bundle of energy burst through the door and into the room.
“Momiji, that must be a record,” I said glancing at my watch; it had only been about a minute. He was trying to catch his breath so he must have sprinted the whole way, though it wasn’t far.
“You sounded worried, and you said something about Inora, where is she?” he asked in a rush looking around the room for her.
“She’s in the bedroom but-” Momiji already tried to take off and I caught his arm just before he got out of reach.
“Ha’ri,” he whined. It had been a while since he had seen her. A while being only about five days of course.
“We just found out… Inora is pregnant,” I said with a grin I knew probably looked stupid, but I didn’t care. He made and excited sound that was somewhere between a squeal and a laugh and bounced into my arms.
“That’s great,” he said excitedly after stepping away. “I wonder if it will be a boy or a girl. Oh! What are you going to name it? When will it come? Do you-”
“You brat, do you always have to be so annoying?” Kyo sighed.
“Kyo, how can you be so mean to such a cute face?” Inora scolded from the doorway. She draped herself over Momiji’s back and hugged him around the middle while resting her chin on his shoulder. Momiji, who had grown quite a bit in the last year and was now slightly taller than Inora, cuddled his cheek into her hair and placed his hands over hers.
“I’ve missed you,” Momiji said sweetly.
“Awe, I missed you too (sweetie pie),” Inora said, hugging him closer. Suddenly she froze and her eyes snapped to me in wonder. She finally realized what I had been hoping she would, she had practically been Momiji’s mother since they had met.
“My mom used to call me (Sweetie pie),” she said quietly still staring at me. I gave her a wink and an encouraging smile; she gave me a fake glare as she realized that I had set this up.
“Ha’ri just told me,” Momiji said excitedly and turned in her arms to face her. He then did what even I didn’t have the guts to do at that point; he put his hand on her stomach and beamed down at her. She looked down at his hand for a second with an expression I couldn’t begin to read, then smiled up at him.
“I think it’s a little early to feel any kicking,” she said with a chuckle.
“It’s still in there though and I always find that amazing,” he laughed joyfully. “You’re gonna be such a good mama.”
“What makes you say that?” she tried to ask nonchalantly but her voice shook ever so slightly. He took his hand off her stomach and hugged her close.
“You always make me feel safe and loved, that’s all a child really needs,” he almost whispered but everyone had gone so silent listening to them that his voice still rang in the room.
“I do love you Momiji,” she said and then smiled. “And I think discipline needs to be on that list of needs though.”
“Oh you have Ha’ri for that,” he laughed and stepped away from her.
“No, he’s too soft,” she said with a grin at me before coming over to hug me. “Thanks, that really helped,” she whispered so only I could hear. She made to step away but I held her close.
“So do you have any ideas for names?” Shigure asked, happy to finally be able to voice his question.
“Oh, names will be fun,” Inora said happily and I beamed. I was so happy that she was feeling better about this.
“We can choose a boy and girl name then when you get an ultrasound we’ll already have one ready,” I said. She thought for a moment before biting her lip and looking up at me. “What is it?” I asked feeling my emotions plummet again. Maybe I did too much too soon; I can tell that she’s still a little uneasy.
“Ha’ri… what would you think about not knowing the sex of the baby until it’s born?” she asked hesitantly.
“I think that would be fantastic,” I said and she smiled.
“I’m not sure if I can handle the anticipation,” Ayame cried out.
“Yes, my poor old heart might give out from all the emotion of waiting for such news,” Shigure sighed dramatically and put the back of his hand to his forehead.
“Grow up you two, it’s our choice,” I said.
“Hey, doesn’t Yuki come tonight?” Inora suddenly asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“I get to tell him since you got to tell Momiji,” she said cheerfully and I laughed.
“Who’s going to tell Akito?” Shigure asked.
“You,” Inora and I said together causing him to laugh.
“Oh, I’m not gonna be able to train with Kazuma anymore we should go tell him since I was supposed to go in tomorrow. And of course we have to let Hatsu know,” she said excitedly and pulled out of my arms to pull me to the door. I couldn’t help but beam at her enthusiasm.
“I want to come,” Momiji said.
“I’ll come if you’re going to see Kazuma,” Kyo said, standing up.
“Dinner will be ready when you get back,” Tohru called to us.
The four of us made our way out of the house, Inora and I had an arm around each other, and Kyo and Momiji were having a civil conversation for once. My mind drifted back to wondering when that last bit of doubt would leave Inora. Maybe when she tells her uncle he’ll have something good to say that will help her. Hatsu and Kazuma will be nothing but supportive of course. She still doesn’t go more than a few days without seeing Hatsu, that man has definitely become a sort of father for her. And through her training with Kazuma they have become quite close.
“Inora!” Hatsu called from his yard.
“Oh god. Look at where he’s standing,” Inora mumbled, grinning. I smiled as I saw the rose bush where Inora and I had our first real conversation. That was when I realized that I had feelings for her… more than I ever thought I would after Kana.
“Hey! We have some news for you,” Inora sang in a sort of tune.
“You’re pregnant,” he said as a statement, grinning brightly.
“Who told you?” Inora asked.
“No one, but you just confirmed it,” he laughed before pulling her into a hug and spinning her around once before setting her down. “Oh sorry! Maybe I shouldn’t do that.”
“How did you know?” Inora asked ignoring his joke.
“Well for one the look about you, you’re glowing. For two you said you had news and you have a group of people with you. Then for three you and Hatori have been all over each other so it was only a matter of time.” The complete truth to that caused everyone to burst out laughing. We chatted happily with him for a time before we decided to visit Kazuma.
“Well I’m so happy for you two. You’re going to be great parents,” Hatsu said.
“That seems to be the general opinion,” Inora said with a nervous laugh.
“Because it’s true,” I said quietly before taking her hand and taking her down the path towards Kazuma’s. She fell silent as we made our way through the estate and to the dojo. We went in and took off our shoes, and she quickly found him observing a couple of boys sparing.
“Is this a bad time?” she asked. He turned to see her and shook his head, grinning.
“It’s never a bad time for you,” he said and looked over her head to see Kyo. “Ah Kyo,” he said happily and moved over to hug and talk to him about his training. We waited a ways away so they could have their father/son moment.
“It’s actually gonna suck to not be able to train,” Inora muttered to me, she was watching the boys spar. “But it probably wouldn’t be too good to get kicked in the stomach too much.”
“Definitely not,” I chuckled. “You want to tell him?”
“If… you don’t mind?”
“Of course not.”
“So to what do I owe the pleasure?” Kazuma asked us.
“Sorry. It looks like I won’t be able to train for a while,” she answered and his face fell slightly.
“Oh? For how long?” he asked and she pretended to think about it.
“Oh I’d say about nine months.” He looked at her confused for a moment and he looked like he was about to ask for what. I could almost see the pieces clicking into place and he grinned at her.
“That’s wonderful! You’ll be amazing. Do you know when it’s due?” he asked while giving her a hug.
“Not yet, actually we just found out today…”
We then had almost the same conversation that we had with Hatsu before saying our goodbyes. Kyo stayed behind to discuss something while we headed back to the house. Momiji chatted happily about nothing in particular while Inora stayed silent for most of the walk.
“You know,” she said breaking her silence, “I think I’ve always wanted the baby, I mean since I first knew about it, I was just worried. But if everyone I know say’s I’ll be a good mom… well, maybe I should believe them. Sorry for being a pain.”
“You could never be a pain to me. I completely understand why you would be worried, but there is no need,” I said and bent to kiss her soft hair.
“Now,” she said grinning up at me. “How are we gonna tell Dan?”