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* Gyoshoku and Kumiko have returned to their house after the funeral of their infant son, Gyoshoku helps Kumiko to a futon and then walks slowly around the room, lighting the small lamps
* Kumiko turns on her side on the futon, watching Gyo
* Gyoshoku is feeling very...empty
* Kumiko is, too.
* Gyoshoku is also worried about Kumiko, who doesn't look well
* Gyoshoku hasn't been willing to talk about it with Kumiko so far, she's been ill, and he's afraid of upsetting her
* Gyoshoku finishes his lamp lighting and stands for a few minutes, not sure what to do next... water, right, she'll need water
* Kumiko is fighting the tears, wants to stay strong
* Gyoshoku pours some fresh water in a cup for Kumiko and sets it beside her, sitting himself a few moments later
* Gyoshoku stares down at his hands and swallows hard
<Gyoshoku> are you alright?
* Kumiko looks up at him. "...yes..."
* Gyoshoku nods
<Kumiko> are you?
<Gyoshoku> I... guess so, yes
<Gyoshoku> it was nice of our friends to make us so much food...
* Gyoshoku really doesn't feel like eating right now
* Kumiko reaches for the water and tries to drink some, spills much. "Yes... it was..."
* Gyoshoku sees this and steadies her hand
<Gyoshoku> I guess they don't know any other way to help
<Kumiko> no...
* Gyoshoku sighs deeply
<Gyoshoku> I wish I did
<Kumiko> I'm sorry...
<Gyoshoku> no...
<Gyoshoku> no, Kumiko, don't be sorry, it's not...nothing's your fault
<Kumiko> I wanted to... I wanted to give you a son... but... I couldn't... I'm sorry...
<Gyoshoku> you did
* Gyoshoku scoots down a bit and lays on his side, facing her
* Gyoshoku puts his hand on top of hers
<Gyoshoku> you did, Kumiko, you did everything you could... he was... he was perfect
<Kumiko> he was so small...
<Gyoshoku> hai..
<Gyoshoku> but that's not from anything you did
<Kumiko> I couldn't... I couldn't make him grow...
* Kumiko bites her lip
* Gyoshoku fights tears, but loses, and swallows as he blinks them away
<Gyoshoku> it's my fault...
<Gyoshoku> we've been on the road, and... we should have stayed, as soon as we knew
<Gyoshoku> I shouldn't have let you travel
<Kumiko> No, Gyo... it's not your fault...
<Gyoshoku> it is, there was never enough food, and never enough rest
<Gyoshoku> it was my ridiculous journey
<Gyoshoku> I didn't have to bring you and put you in danger like that... it was selfish
<Kumiko> Gyo... I'd follow you to the end of the world...
<Gyoshoku> I know, but I could have gone alone... or just not gone
<Gyoshoku> if we'd stayed home, maybe he'd be alive...
* Kumiko bites her lip again, trying her hardest to blink away the tears
<Kumiko> and... and maybe he wouldn't...
<Gyoshoku> maybe not...
* Gyoshoku wipes her cheeks
<Kumiko> maybe... maybe it just is my fault...
* Gyoshoku shakes his head
<Gyoshoku> the midwife said he probably wouldn't pull through... but we kept him with us for a few days, anyway... you did more than anyone could have expected
<Kumiko> but I couldn't keep him alive...
<Gyoshoku> neither could I...
<Gyoshoku> I couldn't make him eat any more than you could, and I couldn't make the sun shine instead of the snow fall, and I couldn't make his soul stay with us...
* Kumiko reaches out her hand a bit more, wants Gyo to be closer. "It still... it still feels like it was my responsibility..."
<Kumiko> and I failed... so... I'm sorry
* Gyoshoku moves closer, close enough to drape his arm over her shoulder and rub her back gently
<Gyoshoku> just promise me you'll stay... you haven't been eating, or sleeping... don't you leave me, too
* Kumiko sniffles lightly and puts her arm around him in turn
<Kumiko> I just don't have much of an appetite... and... and I can't close my eyes without seeing him there...
* Gyoshoku is being slightly hypocritcal since he's not sleeping or eating either
* Gyoshoku also didn't go through hard labor, however
<Gyoshoku> you still have to eat
<Gyoshoku> how will we ever tell Aiko and Maruppe about their brother if we waste away?
<Kumiko> I don't know...
<Kumiko> they'd still have you, though... even if I was gone...
<Gyoshoku> don't... gods, Kumiko, don't say things like that
* Gyoshoku pulls her close and hugs her tightly
* Gyoshoku didn't know he could feel any worse, but now he's feeling panicky
* Kumiko hugs back
<Kumiko> I'm sorry... I'll try not to die, really...
<Kumiko> I don't ever want to leave you...
* Gyoshoku takes a couple of deep breaths
<Gyoshoku> don't ever say... I would be nothing without you, koishii
<Gyoshoku> nothing
<Kumiko> you'd still be a father...
* Gyoshoku pulls back and looks into her eyes
<Gyoshoku> don't you know I'd be lost without you?
* Kumiko leans in and kisses him lightly
* Gyoshoku kisses back
<Gyoshoku> besides... you can't die yet... we promised the kids they'd have a little brother or sister... we can't break our word
* Kumiko smiles slightly... it's either that or crying
<Kumiko> yeah...
<Gyoshoku> I don't know whether to be happy they aren't here or sad about how much I miss them
<Gyoshoku> they were so good at the funer... ceremony
<Kumiko> yeah...
<Kumiko> I miss them so... but at the same time... right now...
* Gyoshoku nods
<Gyoshoku> if only they'd sleep for the next few days, heh
<Kumiko> yeah...
<Gyoshoku> but they're better off as things are... I'm so tired, and I can't imagine how tired you must be
<Kumiko> yeah... still, though...
<Gyoshoku> I know
* Kumiko inches closer to him
<Kumiko> at least I have you...
<Gyoshoku> always, koishii
<Gyoshoku> and... well... it's cold comfort, but, together we can be so much stronger
<Kumiko> yeah...
* Gyoshoku rubs Kumiko's back
<Gyoshoku> are you warm enough? you seem so pale
<Kumiko> I'm warmer with you here...
* Gyoshoku smiles just a tiny bit
<Gyoshoku> that's not what I asked, koishii
<Gyoshoku> if you need me to, I can build up the fire in the stove, or get you another blanket
<Gyoshoku> it looked like it would snow again
<Kumiko> maybe the fire would be good, then...
* Gyoshoku nods and kisses her forehead quickly before getting up to tend to the fire in the stove, which was always going, but definitely needed more wood and some rearranging
* Kumiko watches him as he does this
* Gyoshoku works deliberately and with concentration, the little house is well built, but has very little in the way of insulation
<Gyoshoku> should I boil some water for tea?
<Kumiko> I'm not really very thirsty right now...
<Gyoshoku> alright... just thought it might be warming
* Gyoshoku moves back over to the futon, pulling his sash off and draping it over Kumiko for added warmth
* Gyoshoku then slips under the blankets himself and spoons up behind her
* Kumiko snugs close to him
* Gyoshoku doesn't know how to say what he wants to say
* Gyoshoku can only do his best
<Gyoshoku> we were lucky, in a way
<Gyoshoku> at least we got to hold him, comfort him a little
<Kumiko> yes... we did...
<Gyoshoku> and he was so sweet, and his eyes reminded me of yours
<Kumiko> yeah...
<Kumiko> and... he was so small... so frail...
<Gyoshoku> he was... I'd hoped maybe he was just going to be short, like you
<Kumiko> yeah... *smiles slightly*
<Gyoshoku> maybe he would have been...
* Gyoshoku tightens his grip on her a bit
<Kumiko> maybe he would...
<Gyoshoku> when I travelled, the winters were always the worst for funerals... children and the elderly would die so often... fever, cold, lack of proper food...
<Gyoshoku> sometimes whole families
<Kumiko> yeah...
<Gyoshoku> it's not much comfort, but... we're not alone in our grief
<Kumiko> I know... but...
<Kumiko> It still feels like it... because we were the only ones who knew... just what shade his eyes were... just how soft his skin was... that little noise he made when he was too weak to cry properly...
<Gyoshoku> but at least we know those things
<Kumiko> yes... we do...
<Kumiko> but... but we'll never know if his first word would be "mom" or "dad"... or what his favourite food or colour would be... or what games he'd like to play...
* Gyoshoku kisses the back of her neck as it's easy to reach
<Gyoshoku> not in this lifetime, no
<Kumiko> you think we will, in another lifetime?
<Gyoshoku> it's possible
<Gyoshoku> his soul may find one or both of us again
<Kumiko> I'm always going to stay with you...
<Kumiko> so he'd find both of us
<Kumiko> if he found us
* Gyoshoku smiles slightly
<Gyoshoku> do you remember the day we mused about what we might have been in past lives?
<Kumiko> yeah... we were at the hot springs, I think...
* Gyoshoku nods
<Gyoshoku> yes, I think so
<Gyoshoku> I wonder if our children are new souls or ones we've met before
<Gyoshoku> because, you're right... I think we must have always found each other, and always will
* Kumiko nods slowly
<Kumiko> because a lifetime without you would be horrible...
<Gyoshoku> agreed, but only if we knew what we were missing
<Kumiko> don't you think we'd know, in our souls?
<Gyoshoku> I don't know
<Gyoshoku> I wasn't aware of knowing before I met you this time
<Gyoshoku> but then, once I had found you, the emptiness I'd been trying to fill up was so clear
* Kumiko nods slowly
<Gyoshoku> I didn't think I'd ever feel anything like it again... but I do now... for Himura...
* Gyoshoku wonders at men who simply don't seem to care about the children they might have or lose... even a man is expected to mourn the death of a son, but not in a personal way
* Kumiko nods slowly
* Gyoshoku knows there are plenty of men around who think him weak for spending so much energy on his family
<Kumiko> I hope we meet Himura again...
<Gyoshoku> I think we will
<Gyoshoku> his soul just wasn't ready yet
* Gyoshoku strokes her hair
<Gyoshoku> I love you so much, Kumiko... thank you for him, even for so short a time... thank you
* Kumiko bites her lip, trying to keep herself from apologising again, and nods
* Gyoshoku knows she feels inadequate somehow, but doesn't think he can do anything to stop that
<Kumiko> I love you too...
<Gyoshoku> we'll have more children...
* Kumiko nods again. "Yeah..."
<Kumiko> good thing... good thing Aichan and Maruppe have eachother, though...
* Gyoshoku bites the inside of his lip
<Gyoshoku> yes...
* Gyoshoku finds the thought of Kagemaru very painful right now, but doesn't want to admit it
<Gyoshoku> but maybe... he's strong enough now... I don't want to lose him, but maybe it would be kinder to find him a foster home...
<Kumiko> No... Gyo... he's our son...
* Gyoshoku closes his eyes for a moment and then nods
* Kumiko stops, trying to find more words, but also because she's so close to tears that the thought of losing another of her children is almost sending her over the edge
<Gyoshoku> I know... he is... but maybe it would be easier for you... given the circumstance?
<Kumiko> no... Gyo...
* Gyoshoku can tell he's upset her and tightens his arms around her
<Kumiko> don't... I've already lost one child...
<Gyoshoku> I... I didn't mean to upset you... I love him and I know you do...
<Gyoshoku> I'm sorry
* Kumiko shakes with silent tears
<Gyoshoku> oh, koishii... I'm sorry... I won't suggest it again... he's our child, you're right, I'm sorry
* Gyoshoku is saddened by her reaction, but also a little relieved, even the most well meaning person might resent his son by another woman when her own child so recently died
<Gyoshoku> it was unworthy of me to even suggest it
* Kumiko turns to face him and clings to him, crying still
* Gyoshoku holds her close and rocks her back and forth in his arms
<Gyoshoku> shh, it's alright, he's not going anywhere
* Kumiko is feeling bad for not being able to give him a son when another woman did, but... the thought of trying to comfort Aiko with him gone, the thought of him being gone... it's just too much
* Gyoshoku does his best to comfort her
<Kumiko> he's our child...
<Gyoshoku> yes, he's our child
<Gyoshoku> we'll raise him, I'm sorry
<Gyoshoku> I don't want to lose him either, I promise
* Kumiko nods slightly, and slowly starts to calm down
* Gyoshoku rubs her back and rocks her gently
<Kumiko> please... never... never suggest that again...
<Gyoshoku> I won't
* Gyoshoku felt like he had to at least offer, though
* Kumiko nods slowly and calms down a bit more, still clings to him tightly, though
* Gyoshoku and Kumiko never -said- they would raise him forever, and given Himura's death, Gyo wanted to be sure it was something she still wanted
* Kumiko takes a deep breath and releases him slightly
* Gyoshoku didn't mind the clinging per se
<Gyoshoku> you've been so wonderful to him
* Kumiko hugs him tightly. "I want to be..."
<Gyoshoku> you are
<Gyoshoku> you're his real mother, the mother of his heart
* Kumiko smiles slightly and nods. "That's what I feel like..."
<Gyoshoku> I should have known you wouldn't give him up
<Kumiko> it's not... it's not a matter of will or won't... it's that I can't.
* Gyoshoku nods
<Gyoshoku> you wouldn't be you if you could
<Gyoshoku> I see that now
* Gyoshoku thinks of his sweet little voice and the way he tries to follow Kumiko everywhere she goes and is ashamed of bringing it up
<Kumiko> he... I can't... I just can't...
<Gyoshoku> of course you can't, you saved his life, he's -our- son in every way that matters
<Kumiko> and... and with Himura gone... I need him more... him and Aichan...
<Gyoshoku> so do I...
<Kumiko> I miss them...
<Gyoshoku> maybe I'll go fetch them tomorrow for a few hours
* Kumiko nods
<Kumiko> so I can tell Aichan not to bite her brother's fingers, and Maruppe to not smear his rice in his sister's hair, and... *smiles slightly again*
<Gyoshoku> and both of them to stop trying to pull Saku-chan's tail off?
<Kumiko> yes
<Gyoshoku> it amazes me how much they've grown... walking, running... and so many words already
<Gyoshoku> did you know it would go so fast?
<Kumiko> not really...
<Kumiko> I knew that kids grow quickly, but... not that it went so fast... *smiles*
<Gyoshoku> maybe it's just fast for us
<Gyoshoku> because it seems like we can't get a word in edgewise
* Kumiko nods slowly
* Gyoshoku chuckles
<Gyoshoku> you should try to sleep, koishii
<Kumiko> I suppose so...
<Gyoshoku> you'll need it if I bring the kids home, even for a little while, tomorrow
<Gyoshoku> you know how crazy it is since they started walking
<Kumiko> I know... *smiles*
<Kumiko> I just... I want to stay just like this, with you...
* Gyoshoku smiles back
<Gyoshoku> I'll be beside you for as long as you want me *kiss*
<Gyoshoku> don't you remember my first promise to you?
<Kumiko> I know... you'll stay with me as long as I'll have you...
<Gyoshoku> that's right
* Kumiko smiles slightly more
<Kumiko> I remember...
<Gyoshoku> and that means tending fires and holding you when you're ill, cuddling you close whenever you so desire, and even comforting you after something terrible happens
<Gyoshoku> how'm I doing, by the way?
<Kumiko> wonderful
<Gyoshoku> good, good, nice to know Ive got some assets besides a fast tongue and a vast vocabulary
<Kumiko> there's so much more to you than that... because... *yawn* you're nice and good and kind and smart and wonderful and perfect and...
* Gyoshoku chuckles
<Gyoshoku> not perfect
<Gyoshoku> not even close
<Kumiko> are you saying I'm a liar?
<Gyoshoku> I'm saying you have the mind of a woman in love, and such minds are known to be a litle blind in some areas
* Kumiko shakes her head, but snuggles closer anyway
* Gyoshoku pulls the covers up higher over them and shifts so her weight is resting on him
<Kumiko> I do love you, but even if I didn't, I'd see that you're a wonderful person...
* Gyoshoku smiles and caresses her back
<Gyoshoku> you make me a wonderful person
<Gyoshoku> don't you remember -why- I promised what I did? I was so worried about being a bad person and hurting you that I almost drove you away
<Gyoshoku> I've learned a lot since then, but even now when I look back, I don't know why you took a chance on me
* Kumiko smiles slightly. "I guess my heart just told me to..."
<Kumiko> ...and I was right to take a chance on you, wasn't I?
<Gyoshoku> mm, I hope so *shifts again so her head is resting on his chest*
<Gyoshoku> because I can't imagine my life without you
<Kumiko> and I can't imagine mine without you
<Gyoshoku> are you warm enough now?
<Kumiko> if I say yes, will you leave?
<Gyoshoku> no
<Kumiko> well... then I'm probably warm enough
<Gyoshoku> good
<Gyoshoku> because if you'd said no I'd have been forced to get up and try to find another cover
<Gyoshoku> and I'd much rather be here with you
* Kumiko smiles and strokes his back slightly. "Good."
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