Tohru’s hand shakes as she picks up the little stick. For such an innocuous thing, it certainly feels like it’s going to dictate the rest of her life. It’s a silly way to think, she knows, because it’s only telling her which way it’s going to go, rather than making it happen.
If she’s not pregnant, the stick isn’t going to make her be.
She peers at the legend on the back of the box; two lines, it says, means pregnant.
A deep breath later, and she finally works up the courage to look.
All at once, the tension leaves her body with a whoosh of breath. The stick clatters to the countertop and she leans forward on both hands, trying to stop her limbs from trembling.
This is good news. They’re only nineteen; not even married. A baby now would not be a good idea.
They want kids, sure, but not yet. Kyo has only just been promoted to full-time instructor and she’s been taking extra shifts to earn as much money as possible so they can move into a bigger place. The tiny two-room apartment they share does not have enough room for a baby. It can barely fit them.
“Tohru?” Kyo knocks on the bathroom door. “You okay in there?”
“I’m fine!” She calls, and means it. She sweeps the pregnancy test into the trash and washes her hands. She pulls the door open and comes face to face with her boyfriend. “Good morning!”
“Morning.” He presses a kiss to her forehead when she slips past him, then blinks at her attire. The café she works at doesn’t have a uniform, but it does require her to wear all-black outfits. “You’re working today?”
“Yes! I have a four-hour shift.” She throws a smile back over her shoulder. “I’m actually leaving now. I’ll see you this afternoon.”
“Alright.” Kyo yawns into a hand. It’s his day off, and she feels bad for scheduling a shift for it. But they need the money.
“I’ll be home for lunch.” She promises, grabbing his collar and pulling him down to plant a kiss on his cheek. “I’ll bring something home!”
He slips into the bathroom and she makes her way out of the apartment. She calls a goodbye and closes the door behind her, completely missing Kyo’s loud, panicked call of her name a moment later.
She has a bag of their favourite takeout when she gets home, humming happily to herself as she turns her key in the lock and lets herself in.
“I’m home!” She calls, kicking her shoes off in the genkan. She can hear the television from around the corner, rounding it to find Kyo absently flipping through channels.
“Hey.” He looks up at her with a frown. “How was work?”
“It was fine.” She trots over and places the bag on the table in front of him. “I brought lunch!”
“Thanks.” He digs through the bag, pulling out two styrofoam containers and disposable chopsticks as she floats into the kitchen to get them something to drink. He’s already started eating when she returns with two glasses of water and settles across the table from him.
“So,” he begins, pinning her down with his eyes over the table. Her eyes widen, because this is the look he gets when it’s Serious Discussion Time. The last time he’d looked like this was back when they were living at Shigure’s place and they were discussing potential apartments. “I found the pregnancy test after you left.”
“It was negative!” She hastens to assure him. “I’m not pregnant, I promise!”
“I know.” He shakes his head. “I read the back of the box. But Tohru, why didn’t you tell me you thought you were?”
She ducks her head, snapping her disposable chopsticks, and begins absently picking at her food. “I didn’t want to worry you.” She says quietly, embarrassed at being caught out. “Especially if it was over nothing.”
He sighs, and she looks up. He runs a hand through his hair and fixes her with an exasperated look. “You’re supposed to tell me when you’re worried about something, you know.” He reminds her. “Especially if it’s something to do with me.”
She flushes with shame, eyes downcast. “I’m sorry, Kyo-kun. I didn’t mean to keep secrets from you.”
“No, hey,” Kyo’s voice is laced with panic. When she looks up, his eyes are wide and contrite. “I didn’t mean it like that. I just meant, you don’t have to worry about stuff on your own all the time, you know? Like, if you were pregnant, it’d have to be something we both dealt with, so I should have been able to worry about it with you. You don’t need to take it on all by yourself all the time.”
A warm feeling blossoms in her chest as Kyo runs a hand down his face, frustrated with his inability to articulate what he’s trying to say, but she understands him all the same. She reaches out across the table and he laces their fingers together. “I’ll tell you if it happens again, I promise.” She says with a smile.
He huffs. “Well, let’s just hope it doesn’t happen before we want it, huh? What even made you think you might be?”
She pulls her hand back and begins her meal. “I’m a week late.” She says with chagrin. Being intimate with Kyo for nearly two years now has driven away any shame at discussing her monthly cycle. “I just thought, I know sometimes taking medicine can affect birth control, and I was taking those pills the doctor gave me when I got sick a few weeks ago. So I thought it’d be best to take a test just to be sure…” He nods in understanding, shoving a bite of chicken into his mouth. “You’re being awfully calm about this, Kyo-kun.” She tilts her head, trying to puzzle him out. The whole reason she didn’t want to tell him was because she had expected him to panic about potential babies while they’re still so young.
“I freaked out for about half an hour this morning.” He confides, eyes deliberately on his meal. “But once I figured out you weren’t actually pregnant I was more or less fine.” He fixes her with a hard stare. “You still should have told me, though.”
She bites her lip to fight a smile. “I should have.” She agrees.
He sighs before setting his food down. Leaning across the table, he taps her on the forehead with his fist. “Dummy.” He’s grinning when he pulls back. She giggles. “Lean on me when you’re worried, yeah?”
“Okay, Kyo-kun.” Her cheeks flush at the naked affection in his eyes. “I will.”
“Good. Now eat your food.”
She’s crying on the couch when he gets home, setting off alarm bells in his brain.
“What happened?” He demands in lieu of a greeting, sitting next to her and putting a hand on her knee. She wordlessly hands him a crumpled up piece of paper and he reads it with dread. “You got fired?”
She flinches and cries harder. He puts a hand on her back and rubs small circles. “Hey, it’s okay.” He assures, at a loss as to what else to say. It’s really not okay; they were counting on her income now that they’re in a larger apartment. Kyo’s pay can cover their necessities, but they’ve been talking about starting to put money away for getting married now that they’re both twenty. They’ll have to put those plans off until she can find another job. “Tell me what happened.”
She sniffles. “I don’t know! They fired three of us today. W-we don’t even know what we did.”
He readjusts himself back into his seat and pulls her across his lap. Her hands clench in his shirt and he feels a wet patch grow on his chest from her tears, but he ignores it and uses his thumb to trace small circles on her thigh. “I’m sure it’s not your fault.” He murmurs into her hair. “I know how hard you work.”
“Sato-san says she thinks they fired us because we’re too old.” She murmurs into his chest. “We just finished training a group of high school students.”
He grimaces. “That sucks. That really, really sucks.”
“I’m sorry, Kyo-kun…!”
“No, hey,” he tucks her head into his throat. “Don’t apologise.”
“I feel like such a failure.” She hiccups. “I’ve n-never been fired before.”
Kyo can’t relate—the job he has now is the first he’s ever had. As a cursed Sohma, he’d never needed to work through his teen years; the family had always just deposited a monthly allowance into his account until he left school. It wasn’t until he started working for himself that he began to truly appreciate how hard Tohru worked to pay her own way.
“You are not a failure.” He promises. “It was a shitty thing to happen, yeah, but it doesn’t make you a failure.”
“B-but I got fired…!”
“And you can find another job.” He says firmly. “They’re stupid for not wanting you. When their high school kids are slacking off or dropping plates and breaking things, they’ll wish they’d kept you instead. You’re the hardest worker I know.”
He holds her until she stops sobbing. When her breathing returns to normal, he presses a kiss to her temple. “Are you okay?” She shakes her head and curls deeper into his chest. “Okay.” He brushes her hair out of her face. “It’s okay. We’ll figure something out.”
He drops his work bag in the genkan and kicks off his shoes before going to find Tohru in the kitchen. She’s seated at the table, surfing job application websites on his ancient school laptop, but looks up when he enters the room. “How was work?”
“Fine.” He drops into the seat opposite her and hands her a piece of paper. “I was talking to Kojima about what happened yesterday.” He tells her as she takes it. His boss had noticed Kyo was distracted between lessons and had inquired politely as to the reason. When Kyo had explained that his girlfriend had just lost her job, he’d been surprisingly sympathetic and had let Kyo in on a secret. “He’s looking for a receptionist. The one he has now is quitting in three weeks.”
She stares at the paper with wide eyes. “B-but Kyo-kun, I’ve never done anything like this before!”
“They’ll train you.” He promises. “The job isn’t even advertised yet, but he says he’ll give you a shot if you want it.” He shrugs. “You don’t have to say yes. He likes you, that’s all.” Tohru has spoken to his boss a few times on days when she comes to pick him up from work. She’s gained a pretty positive reputation around the dojo; his colleagues often joke that they don’t know how he got so lucky to get a girl like her. He just shrugs and agrees with them.
“O-of course I want to try it!” She leaps out of her chair, paper clutched in her hand. “I’m going to call him right now!”
He chuckles as she almost trips on her way to the phone. Spinning the laptop around to see what kinds of jobs she was looking at, he lets her excited chatter from the next room float in one ear and out the other.
When she returns, she’s beaming. “He said to come in tomorrow morning and he’ll have Tamura-san start showing me the ropes!” She bends down and presses a kiss to his mouth. “Thank you so much, Kyo-kun!”
“I didn’t do anything.” He shrugs. “You’re the one who made the good impression.”
“But still,” she smiles, lowering her eyes, “you’re the reason I have this chance. So thank you.”
His cheeks warm at the earnestness in her tone. Even after being together for nearly three years, she can still throw him off, sometimes. “Whatever, dummy.” He pinches her thigh and grins when she yelps. “You’re such a sap.”
“Kyo-kun!” She gasps in mock-offence, and he laughs.
She knows he’s awake when she rolls over, pressing her face into his back. He shuffles and looks over his shoulder, squinting in the dark. “What’s wrong?”
She tenses before she takes a deep breath and admits “I’m scared.”
She can’t see his face in the dark, but if she has to guess, he’s probably frowning. “About what?”
“We’re getting married next week.”
There’s a long, drawn-out silence. She feels him tense under her hands before he finally murmurs “Don’t you want to anymore?” in a small voice.
“That’s not what I meant!” She hastens to assure him, sitting up. “I want to marry you! I really, really do! I love you!”
“Then what are you scared about?” He asks, relaxing a little and rolling onto his back. He tugs her down until she’s settled back at his side.
She throws an arm around his middle and presses her face into his chest. “I’m just worried I’ll do something stupid and trip on my shiromuku in front of everyone. Or something.”
He snorts in amusement. “You’ll be fine.”
“I just want it to be over.” She whines. “Why can’t we just skip the wedding and be married already?”
“Do you have any idea how many people would murder me if we eloped?” He grumbles.
“Not if I tell them it was my idea.” She wheedles.
“No one’s gonna believe that.” He drawls, fingers tracing random patterns on the skin of her arm. “You’re the people-pleaser here. I’m the one who doesn’t give a fuck. If either of us is gonna pressure the other into eloping, people are gonna think it was me.”
She giggles, feeling some of the tension ease. “You won’t let me trip, will you?” She asks, half-playful, half-earnest.
“Course not.” He’s quiet for a beat, then, “Besides, we can’t skip out now. Everything’s already paid for.”
She laughs into his chest. “I suppose.” She allows. “I really would hate to disappoint everyone.”
“And you just made my point for me.” He yawns. “We should go to sleep. We have work tomorrow.”
She nods against chest, hair rubbing against his collarbone. “Good night, Kyo-kun.”
For the second time in her life, her hand shakes as she picks up the little stick.
Kyo’s arm tightens around her waist, and she takes comfort in his presence as she flips it over to reveal the result. “What does the box say?” She asks.
He looks at the box in his other hand. “A plus is pregnant, minus is not.”
The stick has a plus.
“I’m pregnant.” She breathes, and the box drops from Kyo’s fingers as he wraps his other arm around her. She spins in his embrace and presses her face into his chest.
“Is this a bad thing?” He asks quietly, running his hand up and down her back.
“Is it?” She asks him, teary eyes peering up at him.
He kisses her forehead. “I don’t think so. Do you?”
She shakes her head, a bright smile breaking out over her face. “No. No, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.”
His answering smile is all the reassurance she needs.
“We’re going to have a baby.” She whispers, fingers twisting in his collar.
“Yeah,” he presses his lips to her temple, her nose, her cheeks. “Yeah, we are.”