The first midnight run for supplies made Kurogane feel stupid.

It was so late it was nearly early, and the screaming in the household had reached epic proportions—wailing and hiccupping sobs reverberating off of the walls and paper screens.

And Fai, who’d been up nearly 72 hours at that point, had given Kurogane a look that brooked no argument, and ordered him out of the house to the midwife’s, saying, “Fix this.”

The first three times, Kurogane had managed around it, making arguments that babies were loud, that babies screamed all the time, that it was normal and really, didn’t this seem more like the type of thing Fai should be responsible for?

But since spending a week sleeping in the male servant’s quarters after the third time, he’d wisely learned to keep his mouth shut on that last point.

So now, exhausted and slightly deranged, he was loping through the sprawling village toward the midwife’s cottage at the far outskirts near the stream—and when he reached it he didn’t hesitate to start banging on the door immediately, saying in his most feral of feral voices:

“It’s doing it again! It won’t shut up!”

And when the door finally did open, the shriveled old woman scowling at him, bedclothes in disarray, said, “Have you considered it might be because you keep calling him an ‘it’?”

“I’ll call it a he when it sleeps through the night,” Kurogane growled. “Isn’t there something you can do? An herb? An elixer? A stopper?”

Her mouth twitched and she pressed age-worn fingers to her lips for a long moment before she shook her head indulgently, beckoning Kurogane into her small, dark cottage, murmuring, “Honestly, how Fai-san puts up with you,” and searching about for a cloak, a clean robe.

“Nobody else could stand him,” Kurogane retorted, bouncing from one foot to the other, nervous and wary—at least 20 minutes had past since he’d been exiled from his bed and he imagined he had less than 30 minutes more before it became a more permanent state of affairs.

“Oh, I wouldn’t be so certain of that,” the midwife said, a crooked smile stretching her mouth. “You know the men and women of Suwa find him quite charming.”

He couldn’t keep the jagged scowl off of his face. “Who?” he demanded.

The old midwife Kagome only shook her head at him, smiling as she drew shut the door of her cottage and stepped into the cool night air.

*

Summers in Suwa were thick with rain, rolling thunderstorms, and a lush greenness that permeated everything—flushed all things with life until they were bursting, trees and bushes drooping under the weight of their buds, exploding into flowers and the dizzy-sweet smell of honeysuckle, of cherry blossoms. Their first summer in Suwa, Fai spent almost every night in the garden, sitting on one of the ornamental rocks, scandalously underdressed with only a thin and richly embroidered kimono on—sliding down one pale shoulder. So naturally Kurogane had spent most of his nights in the garden, too, sucking kisses along the line of Fai’s neck, pressing him with rough hands into the soft green carpet of late summer grass. Kurogane thought it was probably a punishment from the gods for their lechery that brought them the child—abandoned at the doors to the house.

“We can hardly leave him to starve,” Fai had argued. “What would the villagers think?”

“What do you care what the villagers think?” Kurogane had snapped in reply. “They think you’re a woman.” Fai had ignored him in favor of pressing the baby close, of clucking softly like a song, rocking it back and forth, and Kurogane had tried again, saying, “We’re not keeping it.”

They kept it.

*

Actually, the villagers thought Fai was a wife.

Kurogane never bothered to correct anyone when they asked after his new wife, it seemed more trouble than it was worth to explain. No one would believe him, anyway and Fai seemed disinclined to wear anything other than the beautiful kimono he found in the house, draping the cloth luxuriously over his shoulders, dipping low on his pale, smooth neck.

Kurogane never bothered to tell Fai, either, that they were once his mother’s.

It made sense, after all, that the new priest of Suwa would wear the old priestess’ robes, and Kurogane didn’t think his mother held it against him.

*

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abstract

East Coast Gazette has a terrible editorial focus and tends to use a lot of ALL CAPS but TOTALLY NOT BECAUSE OF HARRY POTTER. Stories in progress as well as snapshots will be listed in the "box full of snapshots" below, website archive for stories and assorted tomfoolery is glitterati.

recs (on del.icio.us)


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