April 1st, 1619.

On the days they didn’t need to be at class until after lunch- depending on how early they woke up, Ayako Mayoi and Tony Nori would sometimes simply wake up to enjoy the feeling of their body being next to the other’s. They didn’t even need to do anything but lie there, most of the time.

Even eyes closed, just breathing in the scent of the other would be a relaxing thing. Ayako’s legs could shift every now and then, and the sensation of her legs brushing against Tony’s would be all he needed to know she was there.

If they awoke early enough, they could spend whole hours just lying there like that. Not talking, not thinking, not sleeping, just… being there. It was times like these that they didn’t need to be “Ayako” and “Tony.” Who they were, and what life they were living could wash away with the tide- but as long as they were there, together, simply being aware of the other’s presence…

It was a pleasure that they loved to get whenever they could.

That wasn’t to say that they didn’t do other things that involved being in bed together, but that was a very different kind of release- one of a stress relief on a pure physical level. And while it could be compared to the soul easing pleasure that was simply being content with just holding each other close- it was like comparing a glass of water to a bowl of ranch dressing. Refreshing in their own ways- but different in all those subtle, complex ways that one couldn’t quite put to words.

They simply were, and that was the beauty of moments like these. A Calm before the Storm.

It was Ayako’s turn to make breakfast this morning- and as Miri walked out of her bedroom, her brother hurried over to dote on her and help her over to the dining table that Ayako had ordered for their use shortly after they’d realized that four people just couldn’t keep eating on couches for the foreseeable future.

The damned thing hadn’t arrived until after the New Year, however, much to everyone’s annoyance. But, now that it was there, and usable, the apartment felt more like a proper home. One they’d have to upgrade to a bigger place in a couple of years, but still a home nonetheless.

For Ayako, the sound of Miri bickering with Tony about when she was due to give birth had become a familiar pattern over the last few days. Tony would rush over to her bedroom to help walk Miri over to the table; Miri would complain that he was over-reacting and that she was fine; and Tony would continue to fuss over her until he either got her to the table, or he had to hurry back to the kitchen so as to save whatever meal he’d been making from overcooking.

Today, Ayako had made fresh Rakutor bacon, scrambled Harpy eggs, and several tall glasses full of a frothy, strawberry flavored ice-cream milk-shake. Tony would grip for sure about how they’d had that the last time she’d cooked, but so what. Ayako only knew so many recipes, and if he didn’t like it, then Tony could cook more often!

“I’m fine, Tony!” Miri hissed as she neared her preferred chair. “Seriously! I’m fine!!”

“But what if-” Tony was shooshed with a finger to mouth and a firm “Shoosh!”

“Now, let me sit down on my own or I’m gonna knock you down trying!” Miri smiled at her brother.

And so she moved to sit down in her chair, carefully making sure that she cleared the edge of the table before moving to shoo Tony away.

Ayako quickly finished plating up the bacon and scrambled eggs, then carried the dishes over to the table. “So! What classes do we all have first for today?” She put the plates down, and then hurried back to the kitchen to fetch the milkshakes.

“I’ve got free day today,” Miri answered, “the teachers are just as easily flustered as Tony is, so I’m good as long as I do my homework.”

“That’s nice,” Tony grimaced, “I’ve got History as my first class today. Then Alchemy class after it. I’ll have to check my schedule again after that.”

“I’ve got History after Math and Gemology,” Ayako rolled her eyes as she sat the three milkshakes down on the table, the straws within each glass spun around the edges with the momentum. Miri eagerly grabbed her drink and took a sip from the straw. “Seriously? Why do I need Gemology as a class? It’s not like that’s even a practical skill to apply to the real world as a Detective. I don’t even want to take it but Mom insisted I take it, sooo…”

“Heh,” Tony shook his head. “if there’s anything I learned from back on Egg Roost, it’s-”

“Water!!” Miri choked out suddenly, putting her milkshake’s glass back on the table rather sharply.

“Oh! Right, sorry!” Ayako stood up to fetch Miri a glass of water from the kitchen. “Maybe I put a bit too much ice-cream in them this time?”

“No!” Miri reached a hand out towards Ayako. “Not the Milkshake! That’s fine!”

“Then what-?” Ayako stopped in her tracks as her brain caught up to what exactly was going on. “Oh!”

“Oh?” Tony blinked- and then he, too, put the pieces together. “OH!!”

Miri rolled her eyes, “Yes! ‘Oh’ is exactly the right thing to say to the girl whose WATER JUST BROKE!”

For a moment, there was silence.

And then pandemonium broke out as Tony and Ayako hurried to get everything in order so they could get Miri to the hospital as soon as was physically possible.


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