"You could totally share my hotel room though, it would be like a mini-vacation!"
Keiji shook his head for what felt like the hundredth time that morning.
The whimsical notions Bokuto was attempting to entice him with were nothing new; every time he had to make some protracted work trip, before he'd depart, they'd go through the same spiel. Granted, he mostly found it endearing, but time after time, he shot him down. Work was work, and Keiji didn't want to sign himself up for being the distraction that made a business deal fall through. Besides, as much as he loved being with Bokuto, some time off, for him at least, had its own tranquil appeal.
"No, I'll stay home. You can have the room to yourself," he parried firmly, leaving no trace of a crumbling resolve. "Or one of you give up your room and you can share with Kuroo-san, if you are that lonely for company."
Bokuto's lips framed themselves into a dejected pout.
"I guess," he mumbled after a pause. "But that won't work because he snores sometimes, and it's loud and I can't sleep through it."
"Are you sure it's not you causing that ruckus?"
"What??! I never snore! Wait, are you claiming I do? Have I kept you up at night? Oh god, is that why you hate me and won't go on this trip, Keiji?! I couldn't think of why you would say no, but is that the reason?"
Keiji stared blankly at him, waiting for him to burn himself out on that line of logic. When silence reigned once more, he took the opportunity to dispel the concerns that had been relayed.
"You do sometimes, but it's not particularly offensive. And no, I simply believe you can do this on your own without me being there. So go on and prove me right, do your job well, and then you can come home and we can celebrate your success however you would prefer."
Bokuto ambled closer to him, an optimistic glow in his eyes. "I can totally do it, can't I?"
"You can do it," Keiji affirmed.
"Someone has to be the awesome salesman, and I can't leave Kuroo hanging," his lover nattered on, seemingly to himself. "He's good with the technical stuff, but people want to know what's so great about the product, why it's the best one on the market. That's me, Keiji! I can sell that aspect of it to them!"
He nodded supportively, knowing from experience that no outward input was needed at this stage.
"Okay, okay. I'm going to get this contract. Then we're gonna celebrate big-time. I wonder what we should do?"
And then his focus narrowed, face scrunched in concentration for a few curious moments until the expression relented. Another step closer, and they were mere inches apart, the kitchen counter pressing firmly against his back as if to remind him of his dwindling chance of escape. Though at current, he wasn't disposed towards fleeing.
"Though honestly I don't think anything can top the gift you're already giving me," he remarked, voice soft and fond, hand trailing down to caress Akaashi's abdomen. "Best gift ever."
"One that will take a few months before you can unwrap it," Keiji commented, more for the sake of his own posterity. His breath shored up tight at the back of his throat, and he swallowed to induce some relief. It proved an irritatingly unsuccessful tactic.
The admiration and awe spanning Bokuto's expression made for an intoxicating duo, and every time he was faced with it, his insides quaked with redamancy, brain rife with thousands of reasons why he loved the man before him. His control soared out the window, and he thanked the graces that he was at least able to keep those thoughts from becoming vocal.
Bokuto's eyes sparkled as he peered down at him, and at that, he cracked the slightest of smiles.
"Neither can I."
And now those eyes were fixated on his lips. Something they didn't have time for, Akaashi mused gloomily.
"You had better get on the road, Koutarou, before leaving early to beat the traffic loses its purpose."
A great big sigh was hefted, reluctance bleeding through the torrent of sound.
"Yeah, I know. Still wish you weren't so stubborn. I don't want to leave you, Keiji, especially right now! I mean, with the news and all. Maybe they won't be born for months and months, but just knowing, I feel like I want to watch over them. Like how birds do with their eggs, this is our nest, and someone's gotta protect it!" Bokuto explained, arms gesticulating earnestly at his sides.
"If that's the comparison you're using, then I guess I am the one watching the nest. Besides, most birds take turns with their partners. One has to leave the nest at some point, for hunting, or other things."
"Yeah, they do, but-"
"No excuses, Bokuto-san. You're stalling. I'll be here when you're through with your work, but until then, please act like the responsible adult you are supposed to be."
His husband's pout that round was substantial, but Keiji doggedly waited for it to pass.
After a spell, it dissipated, and only then did he permit himself to lose the stoic facade. Rooting around between them, he linked their fingers, tugging a wordless Bokuto out of the kitchen and into the living room where both luggage and travelling partner awaited. As well as a fourth party who appeared nearly as exasperated as him from his vantage on the sofa, though for different reasons.
Reasons that centered on the lanky human being crowding his personal space, peppering inaudible words in his ear with one hand resting over where his phone lay captive atop a jeans-clad knee.
Akaashi cleared his throat, taking it upon himself to be the monitor.
"I believe Bokuto-san will join you willingly now," he stated, gaze tilted their direction.
"Maybe he might, but who's to say if I want to go?" Kuroo spoke. "Why settle for long distance when I have the real thing right here? I really hated that about college, you know."
"God, Kuroo, you can go get the car warmed up," Kenma griped, planting a hand in his lover's face to shove him back. But even that didn't quell the broad grin lingering on the other male's lips. Or the rosy hue dappling his own cheeks.
"It's always touching hearing how much you'll miss me, kitten."
Pushing his luck was just something Tetsurou couldn't help but do, especially when he wouldn't be around to face the consequences, and especially when it came to wringing sentiment out of his stubborn other half. So despite the delicate digits urging their disentanglement, he swooped in one last time and made it count, kissing the blond's forehead with gusto.
Kenma barely blinked at the gesture, beholding him expectantly.
"And yeah, you can have your phone back now. Promise you'll call me later so I can hear your sweet voice."
The hand shielding it was retracted, and Kenma swiftly recovered the mobile, tucking it into the pocket of his hoodie for safe keeping.
"I might text, maybe," he muttered stonily, the calculation behind it not lost on Keiji.
Tragically, it was on its intended recipient, and on the overgrown bleeding heart beside him, who immediately dashed to his companion's side to console him. Shoulders slumped, Tetsurou gratefully accepted the solace of Koutarou's embrace, bemoaning how unloved, how bereft his delicate soul felt at such a frigid response.
"Shall I get your bags loaded for you?" Akaashi interjected pointedly. If he didn't, heaven only knew how long their tearful communion would last.
Both of the resident clowns took notice of the steel backing his inquiry, and then Bokuto was shooting up once more, traversing the room in an instant.
"No, no, you shouldn't be lifting heavy things, Keiji! I'll get them. Kuroo, grab your stuff, man, we have to go soon!"
Steadying a suitcase in either hand, he sped out the front door, dynamically disappearing into the morning mist. Far more leisurely in his movements, Kuroo peeled himself off the sofa and gathered his one bag. Striding closer to the entrance, he came to a halt before Akaashi.
"Did you pull a muscle? Ace-san here spike something at you too hard last night so you could feel it and miss him when he's gone?" he queried, face impressively impassive considering he was meant to be on the rebound from ultimate emotional despair. "Though knowing Bo, he's too strong for his own good that it might not have been intentional."
Keiji offered him a similarly placid expression.
"Nothing is wrong with me, Kuroo-san. Bokuto-san is going overboard as usual. He's probably just trying to be a gentleman."
Their friends didn't know yet. It was exceedingly tough keeping mum on the subject with how much time the four of them spent together, but it was what he wanted. A period to bask in the turn their life had taken, just Koutarou and he, before spreading the news to anyone else. Keiji was certain they'd understand why later, but for now, he needed to act guarded.
Kuroo appraised him intensely, making his pulse rise, and clapped a hand on his shoulder.
"I hope that's true. We'll talk later, Akaashi."
And then with a final wave to the two of them left in the room, he departed.
Approximately ten seconds later Bokuto barreled back into the house, chest heaving and eyes blown wide.
Keiji leveled a questioning glance at him. Had he forgotten to pack something? The potentiality didn't surprise him. Bokuto harbored a deplorable habit of remembering such errors only when he was too far gone to circle back. Frustratingly enough, this happened even when he packed for him, as his scatterbrained lover would manage to unearth something out of his luggage and leave it behind, as if there was some sort of quota for lost items he had to fulfill on trips.
"What is it?"
Bokuto hovered in the doorway, swaying his weight from foot to foot indecisively. It took another moment, but then he seemed to find his conviction.
Moving closer, he tugged Keiji forward, wrapping both arms around his waist, hands sliding up to rest against his back. Warmth suffused between them, soothing his confusion. Once his brain processed the movement, Keiji let his hands rest in a similar pose, patting his back softly as he waited for him to get his fill. It was sweet. Not entirely unexpected, but he'd been convinced their lack of this type of sendoff had to do with Bokuto's theory that the less involved they got before the trip, the less they would miss each other while gone.
Keiji's lips quirked at the corners. Apparently he'd reached a new conclusion on that score.
"Okay, that helped!" Retreating a step from their embrace, his other half's face came into view. Bokuto was blushing lightly to a point where Keiji doubted he realized it. "Now I can leave."
"Wear your seatbelt, Bokuto-san," he reminded him. He severely doubted they'd get far without him having it on, but that would be no thanks to the space case himself and entirely due to Kuroo's vigilance.
"Gotcha, gotcha. ...Bye Kenma, don't keep Akaashi up too late! See you guys!"
Kenma briefly glanced up to cast him a dubious look, and then one Keiji's direction.
He shrugged in response, and heard the door banging shut behind him. All noise in the house fled, and for a moment the disparity from then to before was cutting, causing the men in the room to preserve their gaze, both starkly aware of the discontent flowering in their hearts.
Three weeks and they could pluck it out at the roots.
Their mutual apprehension didn't last forever, and after a day or so had passed, the silence dulled into an amiable backdrop.
Mornings were spent with Keiji camped out in the bathroom, praying for the nausea to subside and that he wasn't being the worst host imaginable. Several times he entertained the idea of cluing Kenma in, at least so he wouldn't have to keep up any pretenses about his behavior, but never capitulated. Soon enough there would come time for it, when it wasn't just him, and everything was more secure and further along.
Afternoons were dusted with intervals of work and break, the two of them taking residence in the home office at their respective laptops.
For once, Kenma's handheld was neglected recreationally, instead being utilized for beta-testing the newest levels on the company's fantasy sim. Whenever Keiji came up for air from his articles, he could hear the mechanical battle cries of dragons, ogres, and far-too-heroic knights intermittently blaring at the desk across from him. Sometimes their eyes would meet, one feeling the other's gaze studying them, linger, and then return to their task.
It was a simplistic comfort, but one that kept him afloat. Each sweep of Kenma's golden orbs over him was a reminder that they were in the same straits, that someone else understood the illogical feelings stewing beneath the surface. Beyond that, being with him was healing. They communicated far more through gestures than words, and what he got out of it was that he too was appreciated.
Their nights were entirely frivolous. Lounging around aimlessly without any sort of restrictions. Shared meals and curling up together to watch a movie.
After a while, it all sort of blended together, and a week passed that way before Keiji was even cognizant of the clock surging forward. He could blame it on how he was feeling, how he wavered between fatigue and the dream-like state of being overly relaxed or dealing with various annoyances - the discomfort in his lower back, spending the first hour of any day hunched over a sink or worse. Each and every one of them seemed to cloud his waking hours to where time was an intangible concept.
Feeling exceptionally worn-down, Akaashi traipsed around the kitchen once more, peering into various cupboards and hoping for inspiration to flourish. Despite being stocked with a generous array of staple foods, and the ease with which old recipes sprung to mind, he gave up on the endeavor completely. What he was lacking was the willpower to throw something together. He'd made a go of it every night up until then, so perhaps he'd earned a break. It wasn't as though there were many things that his appetite would appreciate right now anyway.
From there he trekked back to the office, hoping that his decision would be favorable for his guest as well.
"Is it strange that I think pizza sounds delicious right now?" he asked at the doorway, gaze craning to catch the other male's response.
The cautious purse of Kenma's lips was answer enough, but he followed it up with a such an eager little nod of affirmation that Keiji sighed at his own transparency. Yet again, he wondered if it wouldn't help more than hurt to just come clean to him.
"You don't feel like cooking?"
"I am... very much into the idea of being lazy tonight," he conceded warily.
"Pizza is one thing, but you usually always cook when someone's over," Kenma interjected. "Or at least when Kuroo and I are, I think. Unless I don't remember something. But go ahead and order it."
At the prospect of an uncomplicated victory and an even easier dinner, Akaashi couldn't find it in himself to worry about covering his tracks.
"I think I'll buy a large."
The combination of the bread and meats and cheeses proved hearty, and his body had overall approved, save for the way the grease slicked the depths of his stomach, leaving him teetering between satisfaction and tentative nausea. An easy leap to make these days, he remarked inwardly, propping himself up against the sofa's edge better, a pillow shoved between him and the armrest itself.
Sleep was what he most desired currently, but given how recently they'd eaten, he was trying to stave off it a while more. Napping on a full stomach wasn't advisable. Instead, he tilted his head, the better to listen to the soft-spoken conversation next to him.
Kenma's shoulders twitched against his chest, curling back into him more at the adjustments. His hand gripped the phone differently as well, letting the receiver drift a hair further from his ear. If Keiji concentrated hard and borrowed clues from his companion's responses, he could almost translate the words coming down the line.
A low rumble filled the quiet room for a minute or perhaps longer, Akaashi's consciousness fading in and out as his head gradually dipped back against the pillow. However resolved he was to force himself to stay awake, his body was equally ready to betray him for a respite. In the spaces he was alert he noted the punch at certain interludes when Kuroo chuckled across the connection or finished rattling off some anecdote he was vying for a reaction to.
"Keiji's here with me." There was a weighted pause. "Okay. I will." Kenma's free hand tapped at his where it lay draped over their sides, nudging him into a modicum of awareness. "Kuroo says that the bosses there like Bokuto. He had a good day."
Akaashi nodded mutely, brain not functioning well enough to grasp that he should probably vocalize his understanding; after all Kenma couldn't see him from his vantage.
The ache the simple tidbit of news imbued in him was surprising, and it clouded him further, causing him to retreat into his own thoughts.
Honoring Bokuto's earlier request seemed impossible. The odd couple times a year he went on business trips had never been so vexing. Normally, he'd see him off, and they wouldn't speak while he was gone.
A long time ago, Koutarou had confided that he felt he could power through the separation better if he didn't hear from him. Both because it eliminated distractions and because it gave him something to strive for - finishing his work so he could come home to him. Sappy, but apparently effective, and up until now, Keiji had managed to comply.
He could have pinned the final straw this round as being privy to the affectionate, if mundane exchange between their friends, but instinct led his suspicions elsewhere. Somewhere between hips and heart, where a part of them was fostering with each successive day.
Closing his eyes, he allowed himself to delve into memories of the tears Bokuto had shed when he'd announced it, the strength with which he'd gripped his hands when he'd asked, over and over, if it was really true. As if Akaashi was cruel enough to tease him with something like that. He wasn't, and Keiji knew that ultimately it was disbelief, not mistrust that made him question it. Still, the whole ordeal had been emotionally depleting. He hadn't had many times in his life where his heart clenched so painfully from euphoria that he feared it might stop beating. Though whenever it did, it was always with Koutarou.
He missed him in the most terrible way, Keiji thought, the epiphany tinged with defeat. But he would forget that for the moment. It wasn't too much longer until he came home. He could hold out, just like he had many times before, and when he was home, only then would he unleash those pent-up feelings.
"You're embarrassing," he heard Kenma mutter at random, the sound distant like the faint buzz of radio static. "Fine, Tetsu. I'll think about it. Not tonight-"
When he woke next, the atmosphere surrounding him was peaceably void of distractions. The lamp on the end table beside the sofa was switched off, the candles on the coffee table extinguished, and the sole source of light in the room was the blinking blue bulb of the phone charging nearby.
Slowly, his senses heightened to detect the weight of fabric brushing his arm that hadn't been there prior to his collapse. Keiji recognized it as one of the blankets he normally stowed in a basket beneath the television set. They saw far too much use in their house to be tucked away in some obscure closet. He tended to run cold at night, and Bokuto enjoyed bundling himself in a heap of them on a tough day, so-
Shaking his head to clear it, Keiji abruptly pushed the recollection away.
He was grateful for the warmth, and in truth, was surprised that he hadn't slept the evening through with how cozy he felt beneath the covers. In addition to that comfort, the second body beside him did wonders. At realizing that, he felt conflicted. It was thoughtful, because clearly Kenma had bothered to get off the couch to grab the blanket for them, but once more he was proving to be an astoundingly ungracious host.
That bothered him as it was completely out of his character. Chalk it up to being tired and letting things slip his mind, but it was unfortunate. Though, now that he was fully aware of it, he could do better. Perhaps starting by making them even comfier than they currently were here on the sofa. He could slip out and ready the bed, and then gently move his sleeping cohort once it was warm and inviting. Then they could both blank out until the morning crept up on them.
Gingerly extracting the blanket from over him, Akaashi slid upright in the small space between them, glancing around to decide how best to get over the next hurdle. With a sigh of resignation, he hoisted one leg over the pair next to him, climbing one bit at a time until he was standing next to the couch, seemingly all without disturbing his companion. Only, he didn't account for how light of a sleeper Kenma was, and how sometimes a change in the environment around him was enough to make him stir.
A grumble worked its way into the air, the other male's face contorting in annoyance as he began to wake.
"Keiji?" he called out a moment after, "You're not sick again, are you?"
Though Akaashi wasn't exactly moving, the question rooted him to the spot.
He glanced at him furtively.
"Do I seem ill?"
Kenma nodded, tugging the blankets around him tightly now that he had them to himself. Rather than snuggling into the vacated space though, he sat on the edge of the couch, rocking back and forward as if trying to build up the momentum to stand. When he did, it took a moment for him to settle on his feet and readjust his covers.
"I suppose my stomach hasn't been cooperative recently," he offered as an excuse.
"They usually aren't when you're pregnant," Kenma stated, voice blunt. He pierced through Akaashi with a sudden, jarring alertness that obliterated any thoughts he had of denying that provocation. "Or so I've heard."
Left alone with the truth in the open, he had no good reason to pretend there was an alternate cause for his malady. Nor would anything he said be convincing at this juncture. It was clear to him that his friend had been sitting on the revelation for some time now, and had concluded on his own that he was correct. If he still wasn't certain, he wouldn't have made the gamble of coming forward with it.
"It wasn't hard, to figure out I mean. Lately you've acted... different. Tired a lot, sick, but with a bigger appetite. You didn't drink with Kuroo and Bokuto when they dragged us out last week, and you usually humor them. Bokuto's clingier than normal, and he keeps saying stuff like 'get rest,' or 'don't lift that,' or whatever. It added up."
Akaashi let out a sigh at the trailing few reasons. It was true, and frankly he wasn't shocked that his lover's zealous nature had morphed into evidence. To say he was exuberant and overprotective these days was an understatement. It hearkened him back to when they'd first dated, and he'd existed on a pedestal for Koutarou to where he'd been determined to view him in a brilliantly perfect light.
These days, they were better versed in their respective faults, and if possible, cared for each other more because of it.
"Were you going to say anything?" he wondered.
"No. You didn't seem ready to tell anyone." Kenma shook his head dismissively.
"We were waiting a while. We haven't known about it long ourselves, so we were planning on enjoying it for a spell before we came clean with family and friends. I'm not certain when my due date is, even, though it will be in the fall sometime."
"Thank you, Kenma." His eyes zoned in on him when a quiet yawn followed the acknowledgement. "I think we should probably move to a bed if you're ready to sleep. Besides, I need to change into something a little more comfortable to stretch out in before I doze off again."
His companion nodded, facial features significantly drooping.
Keiji clicked his tongue and rested a hand on the small of the blond's back, urging him to walk as they made their leisurely progress through the house. After depositing him safely into the guest bedroom, he retreated to his, mind on swapping out sweater and trousers for a loose pair of shorts and an old tee-shirt. And if that tee-shirt happened not to belong to him and was a size or two larger, all the better.
Second wind rapidly disintegrating, Keiji lumbered through the motions of retrieving the clothes he wanted, tossing them atop the bed in a graceless heap. The first article he peeled off was his sweater, and with it, the residual warmth he'd built up. It was a shame to lose it, but he wasn't overly concerned. Nestled between the top sheet and comforter was a heating blanket that would serve admirably as a replacement.
Next came the trousers, which he couldn't honestly believe he'd been comfortable enough in to pass out like he had earlier, but then again, that threshold had been far lower ever since he got pregnant. These days he found himself approximating Bokuto's sleep schedule, which was a miracle if ever he'd seen one. Early to bed, early to rise had always been a pipe dream for him in the past, he recollected dully as he slipped them down with his briefs. Wearing shorts to bed was sufficient as far as layers went.
That was when he paused, a shade capturing his attention in the lamplit room.
The fabric, gray and unpatterned, was tinged with red.
His stomach founded a new home somewhere in his throat. Suddenly, viciously, he was reminded how ignorant he still was, and how despite it seeming otherwise, he was not always resolutely calm under pressure like people assumed he was from his outer bearing. Quite the opposite, when the situation struck him somewhere vulnerable, or stress accumulated too high.
Fingers alternately scrunched the material and examined it, noting a darker hue. Old blood then. He probably wasn't bleeding any longer. It wasn't much to begin with, but the condition of his innards wasn't budging, and the roiling going on in his brain wasn't subsiding either. Was this normal? Something to be expected?
Keiji forced himself to breathe in, subsequently choking when he exhaled too fast.
He wasn't in pain. Other than the fledgling panic, he felt zero distress.
It was the weekend, and his midwife, who operated out of a clinic, wouldn't be available as a resource. He hadn't even gone to his first appointment there yet. It was too early, and he knew too little, but what he did know is that he had no clue what action to take. Wait until the morning since he didn't seem to be bleeding anymore and nothing else was transpiring? For a moment he entertained looking it up online, but retired the idea near the instant it sprung to mind. That was assuredly the worst thing for his nerves right now.
Lowering himself to crawl to the other side of the mattress, Akaashi grabbed for the cordless phone stationed there. Several fumbled attempts later, he was listening to the jarring rhythm of the call patching through, the thrum of each ring crashing through his ears like a sonic boom. His pulse was jittery, destabilizing both his heart and breath as he waited.
"Hey hey hey, this is Bokuto Koutarou! Leave me your name, number, and message, and you'll be at the top of my list to call when I get this. Talk to you soon, I promise! But not too soon, because well, it went to voicemail for a reason!"
Lungs burning as a portion of his hope died, Keiji recoiled into the bed.
He distinctly remembered coaching his husband through the taping of that voicemail greeting. Bokuto had kept the same one since high school, and without his meddling, probably would have never dreamed of changing it. After all, he'd been insanely proud of the previous lingo, the code name he'd appointed himself (Owlishly Handsome had accounted for only half the adjectives audible), and the music he'd wired into the background.
But growing up and finding himself using his phone in a professional setting dictated he come up with something less gaudy. They had compromised on the tone more than the words themselves, Bokuto paring down most of what he wanted to say to something less obtrusive, in exchange getting to maintain his trademark opener. It was dignified enough for his job, but still so reminiscent of his personality that Akaashi couldn't bear to listen to it. Not when he needed to be hearing that voice live, telling him what to do, whether to stay or go. Telling him everything would be fine, even if it wouldn't.
Which wasn't in the cards. He swiftly hung up, dragging himself off the bed.
The longer he lay there, wallowing in indecision, the worse his mental prognosis would become. Whether it was correct or not, he needed to take action, and he needed to do it before fear stifled his willingness to proceed.
Keiji made another trek through the darkened house, and accepted the conclusion that indeed, he was a hapless and bothersome host. Hopefully his guest would forgive that for now, and he could compensate him for his kindness later.
Currently, he was going to test that kindness and hope it truly existed.
Approaching the slumbering lump in the guest bedroom, his hands latched onto one of his friend's arms, jostling it with progressive urgency.
"Kenma. Kenma, wake up."
A despondent groan reached through the shadows, but he roused at a gratifyingly speedy pace, flopping over once his arm was released to blink at the raven.
"What's wrong, Keiji?" he rasped through his weariness.
"Blood. I am, or I was bleeding. I noticed a few moments ago. I'm thinking of going into the emergency room."
Golden eyes narrowed as they burned directly into his, the disbelief in their depths scalding him.
"No, you're definitely going," Kenma remarked with staunch authority. "Let me get my phone, and a coat. Call a cab, because neither of us should drive right now. Have you called Bokuto?"
"Voicemail," he answered weakly.
"Call a cab," Kenma repeated, enunciating the instruction as if trying to hammer it into his head.
'Hey hey hey, this is Boku-'
Four times he'd been relegated to his inbox. Nothing had changed.
Beside him in the back seat of the cab, Kenma had donned a formidable glare, fingers busy manipulating his phone. His frustration with Keiji hadn't abated, and had likely tripled as soon as they'd entered the vehicle, considering his single-minded, futile attempts to reach someone who was clearly unreachable.
The word carried a barb to it, and there was a new mobile shoved against his ear, the device ringing at a more tranquil gait. Taking hold of it properly, Akaashi scanned the screen, noting the contact emblazoned there. His frazzled mind accepted it, because at this point, what other option did he have?
"What's up?" Tetsurou's voice was sluggish, and before he could get another word in edgewise, he jumped at the opportune lull.
"Kuroo-san, I'm sorry for waking you, but I need you to wake up Bokuto-san for me right away. I can't get through to him when I try calling, and I have to speak to him. I'm on my way to the hospital, and-"
"Whoa, hey, are you okay?!" He sounded markedly more alert then. "Is Kenma okay?"
"It's just me who needs to be checked out," Akaashi assured him, trying to bite back the quiver of anxiety that coursed through him at the other man's frantic tone. There was a goal to this, and he couldn't fault Kuroo for jumping to conclusions. Or not taking the news well. But that didn't change the fact that he was barely holding it together himself, and someone else's hysteria was the last thing he needed.
"...I'll go knock his door down."
"Thank you," he breathed out, reclining against the headrest.
"It's no problem. I hope you guys aren't driving there."
"We're in a taxi. I don't trust myself behind a wheel and I pulled Kenma out of bed, so it's best if neither of us try anything requiring coordination."
"Hold on for a minute, I'm outside his room."
A series of deafening knocks telegraphed through their connection, Kuroo no doubt hitting the door as loudly as possible. On the other end, Keiji waited, nerves eating away at him more than ever. Soon though, he would be talking to Bokuto, and the relief he'd obtain was secondary. First priority was breaking the news and praying that his lover would not freak out any worse than he was. If they both were, it would be a disaster, but realistically, the odds of that was high. Setting lower expectations was smarter.
But he wasn't feeling all that wise at the moment.
"Okay, I hear him getting up. I'll have him call you in a second, all right? Hang in there, Akaashi."
"Thank you, Kuroo," he imparted, grateful beyond any profound words. He heard a murmur of acknowledgement, and then the call ended.
Tilting his head to one side, he encountered Kenma's probing stare, and found himself at a similar loss.
Pithy as it was, it was all he could do to reach across and squeeze his friend's hand. He wasn't alone, and that was perhaps the sole reason he had managed to get this far. Without him there, Keiji wasn't sure he would have made it out of the house, not without discarding his very sanity.
A few minutes later, they arrived out front of the hospital, and at the same time the phone began to buzz, Kuroo's face once more displayed on the screen.
Accepting the call, Keiji was momentarily worried that he hadn't been able to get his attention after all. That notion was discredited in an instant, a warm, blustery tone filling his ears.
"Sorry, I fell asleep, and never charged my phone. It was almost on the charger but I guess I didn't plug it in all the way, the battery's low, and I missed your call, and hey, what's up?" When he didn't immediately chime in, Bokuto rebounded, innocently questioning, "Keiji? What's wrong? Why do you need to talk to me so late?"
Kuroo must not have given him the details, he realized with a twinge of relief. Which presented him with the opportunity to tell him, very carefully, what was transpiring. He couldn't have thanked him more for such tact, even if relatively speaking, Bokuto would go ballistic no matter how he phrased it. There wasn't any way he could tell him to avoid that outcome.
"Koutarou, please hold on," he initiated shakily, "I need you to remain calm for me, because I am not very calm right now, but I will tell you why."
A surprised noise met his ears, but almost at once, Bokuto was vocal again, earnest and subdued. "Okay, I'm calm. Just tell me."
Keiji swallowed, trying to dissolve the lump burgeoning in his throat. "I'm about to head into the hospital," he whispered.
All the breath left his husband's lips in a rush. He could picture his face, eyes wary, hands clenching restlessly. He was on the verge of freaking out.
"Koutarou, calm, please," he pled, feeling his pulse thrum warningly.
"Yeah, I'm... continue."
"I noticed that I was bleeding a little. I'm going in to have them assess me and make sure everything is fine. I don't expect anything outlandish like you racing back here, but if you wouldn't mind calling me once you have your phone plugged in, it would be a great comfort."
"Do you... think something's wrong with our baby?" Bokuto's voice was miniscule, and caused his stomach to lurch in guilt.
"I want to be sure. There wasn't much blood, but I don't know what's normal either."
Holding his breath unconsciously, he waited for it to sink in. That was the difficult part, suppressing the instinct in him that wanted to forget his concerns, to focus solely on erasing the fear he knew was beginning to root within Bokuto. A fear that he had engendered. His lips twitched to remedy the situation, but he refrained. Nothing he could say would help, and raw as he felt, he knew he needed a ray of hope more emergently. Bokuto was strong despite his lows, and it wouldn't be the first time they'd had a role reversal like this.
There was a faint groan in the background of the call that sounded like bedsprings, and Akaashi allowed himself to imagine him flopping down on some pristine hotel bed, hair down and ruffled from sleep. It was better than the actual view he was taking in.
"I'm sure the baby is doing great. You're a really good dad, Keiji, getting checked out. It's totally the right thing here, and I'm glad you are."
Akaashi nodded in tandem with the reassurances, ignorant of the reality that he wasn't visible to him. Hearing it bolstered him, a small portion of the anxiety evaporating at his upbeat speech. His cheerfulness wrapped around him protectively through the receiver, and for the first time, he let his shoulders drop. He could almost believe it if he tried. That this would end up being nothing more than a baseless scare.
But if it wasn't? What if, through no obvious misstep, he was responsible for blighting something so pure in their lives?
"Keiji," Bokuto whined, tugging him bodily back into the call. "No bad thoughts, okay? You gotta stay positive, and I know you can. You're so strong, babe, and I'm here with you."
What he would give right now to collapse into his arms.
A tap on his brought him to the present reality, Kenma indicating that the line had moved ahead a few paces.
"We're here, about to check in at the E.R.," he informed him.
"Good, good. Make sure they know how serious it is. Don't let them stick you at the bottom of the list because you're not having a heart attack or whatever."
Akaashi laughed darkly, the sound repulsing him as soon as it exited his mouth.
"I don't think there's anything I can do to influence them if they decide that." Glancing around, he grew despondent. "Despite the hour, it's quite... full around here. We may wait a while."
Seen and unseen, he was pretty certain there were two disapproving gazes turned on him, Kenma's palpable.
"You're important too. It's okay to push a little."
Keiji grappled with what to say. He wanted to have that same boldness, but the more he looked around, the more his resolve faded, looking at some of the other woebegone people scattered throughout the waiting room. He was scared about something incredibly grave, but he wasn't dying, he wasn't in pain, he wasn't sure he was bleeding right now-
"Bo, your cab is here."
Snapping back to attention, his tone grew impassioned. "Bokuto-san, did he say your cab? I told you, you don't need to-"
"Sorry Keiji. I want to be there. I'm coming home, so wait for me. It'll be a couple of hours but I'll rush as much as I can. Get seen, but I'm coming to be with you."
Music to his ears, but with the tradeoff of not having him available to talk to.
"Take care of yourself for me. I love you, Keiji."
"Love you," he murmured helplessly, the words beading painfully in his throat. He didn't want to lose his single lifeline.
'Hurry up and wait' seemed to be the prevailing motto in the emergency room, if not the entire hospital.
You moved from one hurdle to the next with a sense of urgency that vanished the second you were settled. It had taken an hour to get back from the waiting room into a private exam one despite any attempts to speed up the process. From there, Akaashi had waited nearly half that amount to be triaged by the nurse and her innumerable questions, and longer for someone to come and draw his blood for the first round of tests. While he appreciated the thoroughness, whatever calm he had absorbed from Bokuto had worn off and he was overwrought.
A quiet individual, it wasn't likely obvious on the surface, but his mind was a nightmare. He'd become sensitive to every twitch and change in his body, as well as each sound outside the door that could mean news.
Sweat permeated his clothes, and he hoped it was the only thing that was.
His stomach had been fretful, tumbling over and over with an ache that did nothing but act as the gunpowder to his rampant suspicions. It was the final straw for him, really, and so he felt no shame in bedding down on the rigid gurney, tugging the covers up to shield his face. If he wasn't so agitated, he'd probably want to pass out and let time run its course a little faster.
But then the door eased open, prompting him otherwise.
"Keiji-san? I'm Okamoto, your physician's assistant. I thought I'd come check in with you."
Seeing as how he'd graduated from random hospital workers to someone with more clout, he rose up to sit, acknowledging the man with a guarded look. Okamoto was on the younger side, older than him, with a practiced neutrality to his words and gestures. From a first impression alone, Akaashi couldn't say what kind of news he was about to receive from him.
"Your lab results just came back. It looks like your HCG count is high, which as far as we know is a good sign. In all likelihood it means you're still pregnant. Less likely is that the HGC is coming from some other source."
"Other than the baby?" His voice felt gravelly, but he brushed the observation aside.
"Yes. I don't want to alarm you, but sometimes it can be present in the body for other reasons than someone being pregnant. That is rare though and I have no reason to suspect an alternate cause."
Akaashi inclined his head.
"Now, as far as the count itself, it doesn't give us a firm idea of how far along you are, or the health of the pregnancy since we have no other data to compare it with. Usually if someone's had their levels tested before we can watch and see if it drops, or raises appropriately over a series of repeat tests. We're lacking a baseline because you're new to things. For that reason, what's best for us to do is get you an ultrasound to determine if the pregnancy is viable, if it's in the correct spot, and dates if all the other factors are good. This is probably what your provider would have done normally to figure out when you're due, especially considering the fact that you don't have a menstrual cycle as a source to date from. Males are a little more complicated that way."
Unsure how to respond to the torrent of information, he tried to project understanding. Despite the quip at the end, his mood was as steadfastly dour as it had been from the beginning.
"I know that's a lot to take in. If you are confused about anything, please let me know while you have me," Okamoto spoke. Akaashi couldn't decide if he was actually put off by how seamless everything he said seemed to be, or if it was his emotions casting that shadow. Objectively, he was helpful and informative. And correct, as it happened.
"I understand about the dates. But what do you mean by viable, and it being in the correct spot? Where else would they be?"
"Sometimes the pregnancy embeds outside of where it is supposed to. In those cases, it may survive for a while, but only a few weeks at the most. Never to term. And depending on the location, it can be very dangerous for your health, because as it grows, it can rupture and cause internal bleeding."
Keiji swallowed again, and let his hand drift to a hip before circling around to splay against his lower abdomen. There was so much that could be going wrong with him that it was hard to put a leash on his nerves. He was a little angry with himself even, for not knowing. For assuming that everything was that simple and that pregnancy was no more complicated than his morning sickness and flourishing appetite.
"Viability is if a pregnancy is able to be carried to term. If the fetus is alive, and there are no problems otherwise with them or you."
"I know all of this sounds horrible," the other male added, drawing his attention back, "and at this point, all you can do is wait to get those answers. But you will have one before you leave tonight. I can't make any promises, only share the facts. The more information we have, the better, which is why we're going to get the imaging done. Do you have any other questions for me before we proceed?"
"No, I'm just... my husband is on his way in. Do you think I could wait to have this procedure done? By now he's not far off."
"I don't think that will be an issue. I can have someone call down to the radiology department and let them know you're not ready to go over there yet. There are a few tests ordered tonight, so they can focus on someone else while you're waiting for your partner."
A few more platitudes were exchanged, and Okamoto departed.
"Keiji." Tilting his head, he met the blond's cautious expression.
"Do you want me to stay once Bokuto gets here?" Kenma inquired sharply, the lilt suggestive of where his opinion lay.
Akaashi considered the choice, but no answer sprung to mind. "I suppose I should ask you that. If you would rather leave, or not."
"If you'd feel better with me here, I guess I can do that," his companion huffed, breaking their gaze. "But this test will tell you what's going on, and that may be bad or good. Either way, it matters most to you and him, and I'm just here. I think if you can, keep it private. At least until you know, and you get a grip on what that means."
Honest words that did nothing to coddle him. That was about what he could expect from Kenma, and it made his decision for him.
"You've done enough," he declared wearily. "I think we'll manage."
"I'm going back to your guys' house first, but it's only to get my stuff. I'm going home. Call me if you need, though."
He nodded his assent and Kenma turned back to his phone, tapping away at the screen with purpose.
"No." He didn't dignify that with an explanation for a few moments, seemingly until he completed whatever sequence he was working on. "Talking to Kuroo. He's on a 'sleep strike' until he hears an update, apparently."
Akaashi sighed. "He doesn't have to do that. If Bokuto-san is rushing over here, he'll still need to go to work in the morning."
Kenma's shoulders hunched forward, curling himself more into a ball atop the chair. "He's worried about you. And when Kuroo gets worried about something, he can't let it go unless he knows it'll be resolved. I... don't mind that about him, but yeah, he should go to bed already. That's what I'm trying to convince him of now." His eyes narrowed as he checked what likely were a stream of new replies, "He's not budging." Under his breath, he made a frustrated noise, and under any other circumstance, Keiji might have dredged up a smile at that.
Instead, he permitted his attention to drift, checking the time on the wall clock and grimacing at what reflected there.
"Sir! Slow down, you can't-"
Snapping his gaze toward the front of the exam room, Keiji listened as raised voices filled the hallway, and when they died out, the sound of heavy footfalls growing stronger.
Before he could process it, the door was banging open with such force that as soon as the newcomer surged forward, it bounced off one side of the frame and slammed shut again behind them.
Keiji's pulse leapt several increments, vision closing in so that the sole thing he was aware of in that moment was him. Longing crushed his lungs, and he was somehow standing, somehow moving closer, and meeting him halfway, arms outstretched and relieved tears brimming on the horizon.
He couldn't recall how to speak. Koutarou descended on him with more eagerness than precision, and they embraced, limbs jumbled together awkwardly. Neither cared.
He latched onto Bokuto one-armed, and was gripped securely, the other leaning in to nudge their foreheads together. It proved a miraculous cure, stemming the flow of the moisture he was blinking back as he focused on that tender connection, and it alone.
"You ran in a hospital," Akaashi quipped finally, punctuating each word with his disbelief.
"The whole ride here I didn't feel a thing, but the closer I got, and when I actually got here, the more I really just needed to hurry up and see you," he recounted softly, adjusting their position so he wasn't pinning Akaashi's arm in between them. In the rearranging, the raven was the picture of inertia, still to where he felt like some life-sized puppet that Bokuto was conducting. Yet it wasn't for any negative reason. Koutarou was here. He didn't have to be restless anymore, not when his anchor stood right in front of him.
"I'm glad," he whispered, wrapping both arms around him in return. "It wasn't necessary, but this is far better than only having your voice."
"Do you know anything yet?" Keiji tensed, prompting him to continue, "I guess not, huh?"
"I'm going to have an ultrasound to look at everything. Apparently that will tell the doctors whatever else they need to know."
"Okay, let's get that done then."
"It won't be long. I asked them to wait to come get me... until you arrived. I thought it would be easier if you were here with me."
Bokuto hummed in his ear, rubbing between his shoulder blades soothingly. He didn't remark on it any further though, wordlessly providing his agreement. They rested like that for an indeterminable stretch of time, Keiji gratefully engulfed in his familiar scent, until his pulse evened out and some of the worry plaguing him faded into the background. He felt like he could think clearer this way, could see past the possible bad outcomes to realize there was still a chance of everything being all right. A substantial chance.
The staff he'd encountered all had their professionalism, but they hadn't appeared overly concerned. There hadn't been a haste to their motions, and they had catered to him with waiting on these subsequent tests. Wasn't that in of itself, a sort of good omen? Hard to say, considering it could be the opposite. They could be indulging him out of pity, because they knew full well he would be receiving the worst news of his life.
"Huh? I thought Kenma was with you. Did he leave?"
Glancing up from the crook of Bokuto's neck, he made a cursory search of the room.
"Must have. He told me he would when you came," he answered.
"That's too bad. I wanted to thank him. I'm glad you weren't by yourself."
With that much, they were on the same wavelength.
Just then, there was a the smooth sound of a door sliding open and the polite rap of knuckles on the glass. Craning their heads to look, a woman stood at the entry in pale blue scrubs.
"Bokuto-san? I'm Arima, and if you're ready, I'll bring you down for your ultrasound," she invited, notably careful to keep her tone casual. "Would you like a wheelchair?"
"I'd prefer to walk," he indicated at length. Travelling by bed or other means would only make him feel like an invalid, and like things were more dire. Walking there on his own power seemed more reassuring overall, and he could maintain the fragile spark of hope he'd regained in the last minutes.
Slotting his hand into Bokuto's waiting one, they followed her through the labrinyth of the emergency department, weaving through nursing stations and the supply carts clogging up the route until they reached the doors that led through to the rest of the hospital. Akaashi tried his best to keep his gaze focused directly ahead. He didn't wish to intrude on anyone else's miserable night even in the process of setting his to rights. Everyone else in there had his sympathy, but not a shred of his attention right now.
Several twists and turns and a new set of doors later, they reached a different department, and were ushered into a small, dimly-lit room.
"I'll have you lay down on the bed sir, and there's a chair there for your husband." Turning to address Bokuto, she noted, "You can move that wherever you need to so you can see the screen."
He blinked at her, glancing over at Akaashi next as if wanting confirmation. The raven nodded gently, and strode closer to the bed to take his appointed place. Koutarou fell in step with him but walked around, dragging the offered chair snug against the side of the stretcher. Rather than focusing on the screen, Keiji could feel his gaze lingering on him, and he stiffened at the scrutiny.
At times, Bokuto could be surprisingly intuitive, and while it didn't surprise him, he was a little wary that he could sense his renewed panic. They'd made it this far, and that much less stood between them and the truth; he couldn't not feel anxious at realizing that.
"Okay, go ahead and confirm your full name and date of birth for me."
"Bokuto Keiji. 5 December 19XX."
"Great. Just a few more things and we can get started. What number pregnancy is this for you?"
"...It's my first."
Arima made a noise of acknowledgement then led in to the next inquiry, "All right, and tell me about what's been going on. I hear you've noticed some bleeding, but have you been having any cramping, pain? If so, then where?"
He shook his head. "No, only bleeding."
"Thanks for answering my questions. So, I'll explain this to you since it's probably all new. What will happen is you'll pull your shirt up for me, no undressing necessary. I'll place some ultrasound gel on your stomach, and take pictures with my camera. Those pictures will go to our radiologist, who makes a report based on them that is sent to the doctor you're seeing in the E.R. They'll be the one to go over the results with you. I'm afraid I can't really tell you much about what I'm seeing other than pointing out anatomy. Can't say if it's good or bad. But the good thing about being here through the E.R. is everything's ordered STAT, so the results get back to you within a half-hour at most, usually."
All he got from it was more waiting. Not the most favorable thing, but he could endure.
"Okay, just pull shirt up and I'm going to give you this towel to tuck down into the top of your pants so the gel doesn't get on them."
Keiji took the cloth and did as she asked, maneuvering his layers to bare his abdomen.
"Here's some gel now, it should feel warm."
To her credit, it did, and he raised his head to glance at the screen of the ultrasound machine, watching as the picture filled with an array of black and gray. Amongst the gray, there were varying shades, and if he squinted, he could make out some of the borders between various structures, though what they were, he didn't know. His heart was pounding steadily as he scanned it though, trying to make some sense of the image. Bokuto's hand had found his again, and it was a solid reminder that they were facing this together.
Arima went quiet for the next five or more minutes, deftly rocking the camera one way or the other or pressing inward as she went about taking the requisite photos. The sole sounds in the room were the clicks as each image was stored to the computer, and though he knew she couldn't, he wanted her to blurt out some clue to what she was seeing, for some telling emotion to broadcast upon her face. Tonight had been a protracted horror for him, and he was beyond ready to know if their child was in or out of danger.
Of course, by the time she spoke again, his chest was ungodly tight, and pulse racing. Even Bokuto at his side was barely contained in his seat, perched on the edge and intermittently knocking his knee against the bed as he jiggled it. His grip on Akaashi was firm however, and only tightened when she made a move to disrupt the silence.
"This is pretty zoomed up, but I want to point out something. Remember, can't say anything, but if you look here," her finger hovered over a patch of gray on the screen that stood in the midst of a circular black region, "see this flutter looking thing?"
Keiji's eyes honed in on the spot, watching breathlessly as something within the gray swirled rhythmically, almost like the flap of wings.
"That's the heart."
Whatever pressure inside him combusted in one go as he made the mental leap. Perhaps she was exploiting a loophole, but he understood. Akaashi understood perfectly, which explained the tremble rising in his throat, and the tears that sprung loose from his eyes. As much as it stung to let them stream freely, there wasn't anything in the world he wanted to stare at more than he wanted to stare at that screen.
"And we can take a listen, too."
Arima fiddled with a few buttons, bringing up some sort of line that sliced through the picture. Aiming it to lay over where they were concentrated on, one more click brought up a different screen. And a moment later, his ears were straining to record what played forth from the speaker.
Thump thump thump thump-
"It's so fast," a voice interjected, thick with sentiment of their own. Tearing his eyes away, he mustered up a faint lift of his lips at the sight before him. Bokuto was leaning over the bed to watch the same view, mouth trembling and face overrun with a cascade of shameless tears. Something inside Akaashi ached happily, and then he felt his hand being squeezed into oblivion.
"Not so hard, Koutarou," he chastised, although at that moment, he didn't actually mind.
"So as you know, a flutter here," Arima cut in again when they settled, and both turned back to watching. She angled the camera slightly to the right, moving through the body to a different image, "And a flutter here."
Quirking his head, Keiji peered at it more closely as she repeated the motion, swerving back and forth between the spots. In one, the small gray rectangluar shape he understood was the baby, and in the other, the same thing, only it couldn't be exactly the same because it wasn't pointed the same direction as the first, therefore-
An explanation dawned on him.
"Are there two?" he ventured cautiously, almost hesitant to even speak the words aloud.
"Can't say officially, but if I zoom out here," she twisted one of the knobs on the control panel, and everything in the image grew smaller, but the overall view broadened to include more of the surroundings. The black circle of before seemed larger, and the more he squinted, separated into two sections by a thin gray line. In each half, there was a little gray rectangle with a subtle fluttering motion inside them.
He swallowed abruptly.
Once more, his hand was one step away from being yanked off at the wrist. Bokuto was wearing a look of absolute astonishment now, and when he stopped gaping at the picture, he matched their stares excitably, golden orbs bright and brows peaked like when he was about to share something great he'd done that he wanted Akaashi to praise. Only, when the words came tumbling out, it wasn't himself he was clamoring about.
"Twins, Keiji!" he practically bellowed, and before he could tell him to lower the volume, "That's awesome, you are so amazing!"
He swooped down to kiss him before he could protest.
Returning back to reality a few moments later, Akaashi felt the heat flaring up in his face, and vainly was glad there were no reflective surfaces around. He didn't need to see what a wreck he probably looked right then. Ultimately, it didn't matter. He was content, and nothing out there could ruin that for him now that he was certain everything was fine. That they were all fine.
Their family of four.
"Somehow I always knew you'd leave me for your husband."
Kuroo's drawl was threaded through with amusement as he spoke, the feigned hurt he was parading overwhelmed by it. On the other line, Bokuto chuckled, eyes fixed on the reclining form of his other half. After last night, they were enjoying a much needed lazy morning in bed, but he found that more than sleeping, all he wanted to do was watch Akaashi.
"I can't help it, man," he apologized giddily, lips curling at the reluctant blink of his lover's eyes as he started to rouse. "But hey, thanks for bailing me out with the boss... sorry I left our job early."
"No worries, it's not like we weren't gonna get the contract. The trip was a formality from the beginning."
Scooting closer, he carded his fingers across Akaashi's forehead, brushing aside a few wispy bangs. Somnolent green orbs stared back at him, but he made no effort to move, so Koutarou leaned down to peck the newly cleared spot. He gleaned a pleasant, if yearning sigh, and then he was tugged further south until their lips melded.
"Quick question - do you guys charge per session or by the minute?"
Keiji scoffed against his mouth, but there was a humor in the noise. Separating from their entanglement, he turned back to his conversation.
"Always free for you and my other-other husband," was his matter of fact response.
"Sweet!" There was a pause then, his friend evidently unearthing the true reason behind the call. "So, how did everything go?"
Bokuto's grin magnified instantaneously. Pushing the receiver closer to himself, he launched into a babble of an explanation. "It went great. Keiji is super healthy, and the doctor said there wasn't any problems. I guess it can be normal to have a little trouble in the beginning, or something. I mean not everyone does, but if you do, it doesn't mean something bad's going on. So it was nothing, but I'm still glad he got checked out because it could have been something bad but now we're sure it isn't!"
"Then that means," Kuroo drew out the last syllable, stretching it as though waiting for him to chime in immediately. When Bokuto didn't leap at the opening, he followed though with a less assured tone, "I'm gonna be an uncle slash stepdad?"
Koutarou fiddled with the comforter, debating. His fingers sunk into the material, twisting it into a bunched up mess of fabric.
Before all this had happened, Akaashi and he had agreed they were going to wait to tell anyone about the baby - err, babies - until things were further along. But Kuroo clearly had figured out what was going on, and Koutarou was more or less certain he'd slip up eventually and confirm it later if he chose to deny it now.
Plus, he didn't want to lie about something he was so proud of; if he could without getting in trouble for it, he'd shout the truth to whole world without a single qualm. This wasn't just about what he wanted though, few things had been since he'd stood at the altar, slid a ring on Keiji's finger, and promised to be his partner in life.
The memory made him flush a little, recalling how intently they'd watched each other take turns reciting their vows. As far as the verbiage, they'd gone for a traditional set, but nothing about it had felt anything other than intimate. Maybe thousands of other couples had parroted their exact words, but when they'd said them, it was if they'd written their own lines.
Slotting his eyes to the side, he glanced at his husband. Tapping a finger against the phone with his free hand, he mouthed, "Can I?"
Mercifully, his inquiry wasn't lost in translation.
Akaashi nodded from his perch against a legion of pillows. "Might as well," he commented, dry and somewhat cracked, "After all that trouble, I'm sure the cat's already out of the bag."
Bokuto's eyes enlarged comically. He was completely certain the slip was unintentional on Keiji's part but well, now he definitely had to share because it was a sentence composed of pure brilliance.
"Dude," he stated, with the utmost reverance, "You have to know that Akaashi just said that - get this - the cat's already out of the bag."
Kuroo snickered, and Koutarou could picture the way his lips would have ridden up over his teeth in amusement, stretching tight at the corners. "Nice one, future owl dad. That a yes then?"
Wiggling out from beneath the blankets, Bokuto flew up to pace along the bed, excitedly rattling off his news. "Yeah, there are two of my babies growing in there, can you believe that?! And they've got really quick heartbeats so they're gonna be strong and yeah, I kinda can't believe it still. But man, I must be awesome at knocking u-"
But just then, he caught the withering look he was being shot, and wisely chose to stopper the stream of boasting.
"You know he's gonna get huge in a couple of months," Kuroo prompted conspiratorially.
"Huge?" he blurted, earning him a raised brow from across the room. A second later though, everything clicked into place.
Amping up his volume and puffing out his chest, he launched back into the discussion, declaring, "Well, I think that he is already the prettiest pregnant person ever, so I'm gonna have to ask you to retract that statement!"
"Good boy. You're welcome by the way," Tetsurou bantered, another eccentric laugh tumbling into his ears. "I for one am ready to put out for you right now after hearing that. Hope it works the same on him."
Whether or not it did was irrelevant ultimately, but the way Akaashi's expression softened set his own heart to pounding, a rush of affection welling up inside him. Seriously, how did he get so lucky? He had the guy of his dreams, the best friends in the world, and now he was going to be a dad, something he had always looked forward to having in his life. Just thinking about it, Bokuto could hardly contain the fierce joy bouncing around his chest, but he would, at least until he could finagle the privacy to let it out.
"I'm glad you see the error of your ways!" he chimed, quieter but full of sentiment. "I guess we're cool again."
"Yep. Go enjoy this moment with your 'prettiest pregnant person.'"
Then there was a pause, and though they were miles apart, Bokuto found he could easily infer what he was mulling over with such a melancholy lilt to his responses. And because he was awesome like that, he was going to be generous and offer him the same kind of push that Kuroo was so deft at delivering to him.
"You should call Kenma if you're missing him."
A sigh gusted into his ear through the receiver. "That so, buddy?"
"Yes!" he insisted, "And in advance, no, you're not bothering him. Well, I don't know that one-hundred percent but I really, really doubt it! And he would say so if you were, he doesn't hold back! I know you call him when you're gone but do you spill that you miss him? Not in those words, but you should, with extra sap like how it's not the same without him around, and wanting to see his face and stuff. So he gets it."
"Hmm, seems romantic and all, but I don't know about extra sap, Kenma will definitely say something like 'Ugh, you're so corny, I'm not picking up next time,' and I don't think my poor lonesome heart can take it."
"Dude, when has that ever stopped you?" Bokuto pointed out, lowering himself back onto the edge of the mattress. "You're the sap master."
"And he must like it a little bit, if he let you put a ring on that!"
"It was either that or my butt."
"Exactly, so you know what you need to do!" he hooted triumphantly. "Go on and get the love train rolling!"
"Will do, will do. Hey, congrats to you and him on the kiddos. Send me a picture or something."
"They don't really look baby-ish yet," Bokuto confided. "More like cute rectangles."
"Yeah, 'cause they're tiny. I don't expect them to. But still. I want some cute rectangles to put on the fridge."
"I guess I can let you have one. Okay, I'll let you get off so you can go work your magic. Remember the face thing dude! You miss his face a lot!"
Kuroo chuckled again. "Yeah, all right. Bye now Bo, take it easy."
Tossing the phone away, he turned to smile at Keiji, unable to contain the positive energy coursing through him.
"Well, what do you think? Pretty stellar advice, right?"
It took all of Akaashi's willpower not to shake his head, but he succeeded, instead translating his exasperation to speech.
"What do I think? I think that you are a gigantic dork, Bokuto-san. The next time you speak to Kuroo. you can inform him it is his hand I will be breaking when I'm in labor. With great pleasure."
"No way! He can film you breaking both my hands, Keiji. One for each of our babies. You can give all your pain to me, I can take it!" He enthusiastically hiked a thumb at his own chest.
"Film? I had imagined that job would get pawned off on Kenma. You certainly can't be trusted to have steady camera hands. And I am not sure I would enjoy watching the video angles Kuroo would choose."
Bokuto wrinkled his nose.
"I don't think Kenma would appreciate it. Too messy and close up. Make Kuroo do it. I'll keep him in line with where he's pointing that thing."
"True, I suppose such a dirty job would be better for him after all. We can spare Kenma the horror and give him a seat at the head of the bed, or perhaps the waiting room would be more comfortable."
Shuffling closer on the bed, Koutarou seemed pensive.
"Are you okay with taping it though? You'd tell me if you weren't, right, Keiji?"
Akaashi cupped his head in his hands. The stare he posed was enchanting, drawing him like a magnet and locking his attention in place.
"After all, I will need plenty of footage for the divorce proceedings afterward that they were your children and you can be billed for them. You leaving after the judge witnesses this miracle play out will grant me the deepest sympathy in court."
Bokuto's entire face was trembling, seemingly on the verge of tears. "Keiji!!"
He let his mouth stretch out into a broad smile, thumb mapping the curvature of his jaw. "Having more than one husband is asking for trouble, Koutarou."
"But I already left them for you!"
"You're easily distracted," he stated lowly, the finger digging up under his chin tugging Bokuto forward, within reach. Their kiss was light, Akaashi's lips crinkled in a grin against his pliant ones. It lasted no more than a few seconds, and by the time it was over, the lion's share of his hysteria had abated.
"Maybe I am," Bokuto grumbled, "but you don't have to be so mean to me about it."
Closing the gap a second time, he recaptured his lover's mouth, coaxing him to match the same intent pressure, his newly languid pace. Their lips parted in unison and his tongue searched out Bokuto's, gliding against it in apology. One hand ascended, fondly ruffling the downy tresses at the base of his neck. In no hurry, they entwined for a long moment before relinquishing their shared warmth. Tone a little rougher, he conceded the point.
"I'm only kidding. Of course I want our family there, other halves included. They mean the world to me."
"Yeah, but you're my number one."
"As you are mine."