Four Days Later:
"Come on, Mai; you need to eat something." Ryou pleaded with Mai, trying to get her to eat lunch.
It had been four days since Ichigo, Kish, and Masaya left Mai at the park and since Yuko took Larg back, and Mai hasn't been taking it well.
That's an understatement: Mai's been severely depressed, sleeps more than she used to, cries a lot, barely eats, or stares at a wall.
"Why?" Mai dully asked, staring into space.
"Why? Why would you ask that?" Ryou asked, watching Mai.
"I jus wan die." Mai replied, shocking Ryou, Fai, and Kurogane.
"Mai, no. Why would you say that? Where would you get an idea like that?" Ryou asked, horrified.
"Mommy wan me die. Kai wan me die. Mr. Masa wan me die. An Ms. Kiss wan me die. Mommy say Daddy wan me die. Nobody love me. Ebybody wan me die." Mai dully answered.
Ryou didn't know how to feel or react:
He was beyond pissed, shocked, hurt, and concerned.
"Baby, that's just not true: I love you more than you'll ever know. Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle Tomohiro love you so very much. Uncle Keiichiro, Aunty Zakuro, Mika, Kenji love you. Aunty Lettuce, Aunty Pudding, Aunty Kiwi, Aunty Keki, Aunty Nashi, Aunty Pepaminto, Uncle Pie, Uncle Tart, and Uncle Koda: they all love you. Mokona, your kitties, and puppies love you. And don't forget your new brother Fai, and Kurogane: I'm sure they both love you as well. Baby, you are so loved more than you will ever know. Mommy, Kai, Kish, and Masaya: they don't matter anymore—not if they're going to say mean things like that." Ryou urgently explained to Mai, pulling her onto his lap.
"Gamma?" Mai softly asked, looking at Ryou with tears in big blue her eyes.
"I don't know, Baby. I'm sure deep down, she loves you very much. But Kish did something to her, and she—well, she's on their side now. Actually, I'm pretty sure Kish did something to Mommy as well because I don't think she would ever say something like that. But there's nothing I can do about that—and I'm sorry for that. But I love you more than anyone, and I always will. I promise you that." Ryou sincerely promised Mai, holding her close, rocking her a little.
"And you mustn't forget us; we love you as well, Mai." Yuko and Larg insisted, appearing out of Soel's gem.
All Mai could do was cry.
"What do you know?" Kurogane demanded, accusing Yuko.
"Nothing. I know with our past history that you may not trust me. But I swear to you, I know nothing about Mai's mother and her two companions other than the green-haired man is in charge; he brainwashed Mai's mother and the other man. He fried Sakura's brain by brainwashing her because he had to do it a few times. Sakura was one tough cookie and held on for as long as she could. And you don't have to worry too much; Sakura is unharmed. She just doesn't have any memories of Mai whatsoever. She only remembers Ichigo, Kai, and believes she's lived in that place for years now." Yuko calmly explained.
"Great… Thank you, Yuko." Ryou sighed, standing up.
"You're welcome. I hope your little one feels better soon." Yuko sincerely told Ryou.
"Me to." Ryou replied before Yuko disappeared.
"What are you going to do?" Mokona asked, following Ryou.
"I'm putting Mai to bed; she fell asleep. Maybe I'll be able to get her to eat after she wakes up." Ryou answered, tucking Mai into his bed.
"Your bed?" Mokona asked, confused.
"Yes. Hopefully she'll wake up understanding just how much I love her if I let her nap in my bed for the time being. Can you get a hold of Pie by any chance?" Ryou explained before asking Mokona.
"I can try." Mokona answered, concerned.
"Do so, please—now. Tell him I want him here now, please." Ryou ordered.
"Yes, of course." Mokona quickly replied.
"Have we met Pie?" Fai asked, curious.
"No, I don't think so. You've only met my parents, brothers, Zakuro, and niece and nephew." Ryou answered, sitting in a chair.
"You called?" Pie asked, appearing out of nowhere with Lettuce.
"Is everything ok?" Lettuce asked, seeing a look she rarely sees on Ryou.
"No, everything's not ok. But I don't have time for that right now; I need you to take me to see Ichigo, Kish, and Masaya right now." Ryou answered before telling Pie.
"What did they do this time?" Pie asked, standing his ground.
"They told Mai everybody hated her and now she wants to die." Ryou quickly answered, annoyed, shocking Lettuce and Pie.
"Ok. Let's go. Lettuce, are you going to stay here?" Pie told Ryou before asking Lettuce.
"Yeah, I'll stay here." Lettuce replied, not wanting to see Ichigo after what she learned.
"Mai's sleeping in my bed right now; she just cried herself to sleep. I know I kind of told you about these two, but these are Fai and Kurogane; they live with Mai and me. If Mai for some reason wakes up, just spend time with her. Fai and Kurogane are pretty easy; they behave well enough. If I'm not back in ten minutes, let the dogs out." Ryou told Lettuce, Fai, and Kurogane before taking off with Pie.
"Kish, Ichigo, and Masaya: come to the front, now!" Pie called through the invisible barrier once he and Ryou landed.
"Stay a foot away from the barrier. You won't be able to get back out to see Mai again without me." Pie warned Ryou when he started stepping closer.
"Right." Ryou sighed, agreeing.
"What do you want now, Pie?" Kish asked, annoyed.
"What are you doing here? You're not here for Kai, are you?" Ichigo asked, noticing Ryou right away.
"No, but maybe I should be. You're lucky here because police are looking for all of you. My dad called a few days ago after you left Mai alone at a park. I hope you're happy, Kish; you got what you wanted. Granted you had to brainwash Ichigo, Masaya, Sakura, and probably Kai as well to get it. Smile all you want. Even before you brainwashed them, I think we all knew Ichigo, and I weren't going to last. If she had wanted to be with you or Masaya—or both of you, I would've let her. I just wanted what's best for her and Kai. I wanted them to be happy. Hell, I know how much Kai and Ichigo prefer each other, like Mai and I prefer each other. But did you really have to make Ichigo and Kai so cold toward Mai? I mean, telling her you all hate her? What's worse is that you told her that my family, the others, and I all hate her. None of us hate her and you know it. Did you tell her she should just die as well?" Ryou snapped at Ichigo and Kish. Honestly, he didn't care about Masaya at that moment.
"No. Kai and I may have told her we didn't like her like you did, but we never told her to just go die. We're not that heartless." Ichigo immediately retorted, becoming defensive.
"Don't look at me." Kish defensively put his hands up.
"I did that. We didn't need her waiting around for us to come back—or to come looking for us." Masaya carelessly spoke up.
"Masaya! We would never say that to a child!" Ichigo shrieked, beyond shocked.
"What? You don't even like the girl." Masaya argued.
"Maybe so, but I would never tell a child I hate them or just to kill themselves.
Meanwhile, Kish stood there, smirking.
Ryou understood it now: Kish wanted Ichigo and Kai to himself. He had better want Kai as well.
"Could you go argue somewhere else?" Ryou asked, annoyed; he wanted to talk to Kish alone—and Kish saw that.
"Go. We'll have a discussion when I get back. I need to have a private conversation with Ryou about his accusations of me brainwashing you. We'll have Sakura take Kai out for the day." Kish told Ichigo and Masaya.
"Fine. Please don't take Kai from us. I promise, I don't hate Mai." Ichigo agreed before begging and calmly telling Ryou.
"I'm not going to take him from you." Ryou promised before she and Masaya started walking away.
"I'm not stupid, Kish. You know this. You know damn-well that the only one here I'm not smart than, is Pie. I know you brainwashed Masaya, Ichigo, Kai, and Sakura for your own agenda —probably in that order. Ichigo wants kids; she's wanted them for as long as she can remember. However, because of some unforeseen issues, she is unable to carry a child on her own. She got a miracle with the twins. I got a miracle with the twins. Yes, I'm aware Kai is more of a mama's boy and Mai's more my girl than anything. Fine. I'll take those statistics. That being said, anyone Ichigo or I date, have to take those odds as well. That includes you." Ryou firmly told Kish.
"What are you going on about now? I know you're smarter than me and all that. Yes, you're right; I brainwashed them so I could have Ichigo." Kish retorted, annoyed.
"And Kai, right?" Ryou questioned, narrowing his eyes at Kish.
"Yes, and Kai. I will not take him away from her; that much I promise. I'm going to get rid of that Masaya one way or another, but I'm keeping Ichigo and Kai. I'm not going to let you take Kai away from us. Yes, I know she couldn't have babies—with humans. She, however, should be able to carry my babies." Kish proudly insisted, watching Ryou.
"As long as you promise to keep Kai and not push him to the side in any way, shape, or form, I will leave you all alone. But Kai does not get pushed aside, replaced, or have time taken away from him." Ryou sternly demanded.
"I'm not that coldhearted; he is a part of Ichigo. Seeing as he's a part of her, I love him just as much. If it weren't for the fact that Mai is so attached to you, I would've taken her as well." Kish informed Ryou.
"Why not brainwash her like the others?" Ryou asked, annoyed.
"Because believe it or not, I do like you in a way. Well, I don't like you, but I do respect you. As long as Ichigo is happy, I'm happy. And Mai: that little girl loves you more than anyone. And you love her more than anyone. Like you said earlier, Kai loves Ichigo more than anyone and she loves him more than anyone. That being said: when it comes to brainwashing, it doesn't work with parents. Good parents always love their children more than anything. I will stand here and apologize for how far the brainwashing went, but I will not apologize for taking what I wanted—and what is now mine." Kish replied, watching Ryou.
"Fine." Ryou responded, breathing deep.
"I'm glad to see you getting along." Yuko spoke, appearing out of nowhere.
"Yuko—what are you doing here?" Ryou asked, stunned.
"I just came to see how you were doing. I came to make a deal if you two and Ichigo are interested." Yuko spoke up.
"What about me?" Ichigo asked, showing up.
"Good, you're here." Yuko greeted with a smile.
"Yeah… You called me." Ichigo replied, slightly annoyed.
"If you're willing to make a deal, I've got one—involving the children." Yuko spoke.
"We're listening." Ryou, Ichigo, and Kish replied.
"Good. As they get older, Kai and Mai will slowly forget one another. Being apart for so long will do that. Mai will forget first, followed by Kai. In about ten years, Kish, Ichigo, Kai, and Sakura will be able to leave this place. I'll kick Masaya out in a little bit so it can be just you four. With that said, you have to take the good with the bad. If you want babies, you have to do it here; you won't be able to have children on Earth—and Kish and any baby you may have will become human."
"Ryou: I will make it so Mai forgets that anyone said they hated her and that she should die. However, I will only do any of that under the condition that you realize her brain scan will not go how you want it. It won't be anything life-threatening, but it's not going to be easy. I can't tell you what; you'll have to wait to find out. I'm not a man or a parent, so I suppose I wouldn't understand, but I can only imagine how you feel about Mai dating. But as she gets older, she'll like one boy—and one boy alone. That boy feels the same way about her. Boys outside of your family won't be so nice to her. Most outside of the family won't be nice to her, but she will have friends who will like her for her. Can you all live with all that?" Yuko calmly explained before firmly asking them.
"Yes." The three answered.
"Also, the police and everyone will stop looking for Ichigo and Kai." Yuko answered.
"Do you know if Kai will date as he gets older?" Ichigo nervously asked.
"Yes, he'll date." Yuko answered.
"Do you know who?" Ichigo questioned.
"Several girls at different times." Yuko simply answered.
"Seeing as you said as time goes by, they'll forget about each other: Kai doesn't try to date Mai at any given time, does he?" Ryou asked, watching Yuko.
"What is wrong with you?!" Ichigo screeched, freaked out.
"He'll show interest in her, yes. But she won't show interest in him because she only loves one boy in that way." Yuko answered, shutting Ichigo up.
"Can you make it so he doesn't forget Mai?" Ichigo desperately asked.
"No. What's done is done. You've already agreed. Nothing can be changed now. You can't change the course of Fate. You can relax, Mom: Kai won't get anywhere with Mai. He'll try despite knowing she already likes someone, but once you find out about her, you'll put a stop to it. It happens more often than you think." Yuko explained, putting Ichigo's mind at ease—at least a little bit.
"It's that Kurogane, isn't it?" Ryou asked, looking at Yuko.
"Hmm? What do you mean?" Yuko asked, confused.
"The boy Mai likes and the boy who likes Mai: it's Kurogane isn't it?" Ryou asked again.
"Who's Kurogane?" Ichigo asked, confused.
"He's one of the boys who came to live with us. Him and Fai. Fai's my thirteen-year-old adopted son and Kurogane's eight." Ryou answered.
"How could you know I'm talking about Kurogane?" Yuko asked, somewhat shocked for the first time in a long time.
"I see the way he looks at Mai. Mai's too young to understand, but I see something in her eyes when she looks at him as well." Ryou honestly answered.
"Adopted son?" Ichigo asked, confused.
"Well, I can't really say my actual son: he's only eight years younger than me." Ryou shot back.
"Right." Ichigo replied, kind of huffy.
"Wouldn't it make more sense for him to be your brother or something?" Kish asked, watching Ryou.
"Is this all? Can we go? I want to get back to Mai." Ryou asked, looking at Yuko.
"Yes. But please know that Mai will still be depressed. There's nothing that can be changed about that." Yuko calmly explained.
"Ok." Ryou replied.
With that, Yuko was gone.
"Are you ready?" Pie asked, looking at Ryou.
"Yeah. I guess, see you sometime in ten years or so. Bye." Ryou told Ichigo and Kish before heading out with Pie.
"Yeah. See you." Ichigo and Kish replied just before Pie and Ryou disappeared.
"Welcome home." Lettuce and Fai greeted.
"Kurogane's letting the dogs out." Fai stated, noticing Ryou looking for him.
"Ok. How's Mai?" Ryou replied before asking.
"Same. She's still sleeping. However, she does have a small fever." Lettuce answered, watching Ryou.
"Thank you, Lettuce. Here." Ryou thanked Lettuce before handing her $15: $5 per kid.
"You don't have to…" "I know I don't have to; I want to. It's the least I could do for calling you on such short notice. Umm… For the most part, Pie can explain it to you. But short version: Kish got what he wanted. Masaya told Mai everyone hated her and that she should die. I get Mai and Ichigo still gets Kai. And Ichigo, Kish, and I made some deal with Yuko." Lettuce started protesting before Ryou interrupted her.
"You made a deal with that witch?" Kurogane questioned, annoyed, walking into the living room with the dogs.
"What was your payments?" Fai asked, curious.
"Payments?" Ryou asked, confused.
"You know: payments. That witch always requires some kind of payment." Kurogane clarified.
"She didn't say anything that I know of." Ryou calmly replied.
"Maybe she did. She told Kish and Ichigo they'd be able to have kids—there, not here. Have kids while they can because once they come back here, they won't be able to have anymore." Pie suggested, watching Ryou.
"Maybe. What about Mai and me?" Ryou asked, watching Pie.
"Her results for her brain scan? Not to mention, in ten years or so, I'm sure you'll all have to communicate for Kai and Mai." Pie answered, shrugging.
"I suppose…" Ryou sighed, looking up.
"When is her scan?" Lettuce asked, concerned.
"We have to be there Wednesday by 10:30 AM to get her signed up and everything. Then, I think they said between 10:50 and 11:00 AM they'll get her in." Ryou replied, sighing.
"Here, in town?" Lettuce asked.
"No. Kyoto." Ryou answered with a sigh.
"But that's so far." Lettuce immediately cried.
"Roughly six hours: it's going to be a day trip. My first choice was here, but they were backed up for seven months. We can't wait that long. Yes, I should've scheduled sooner, but I was being stubborn and didn't want Mai to have to deal with anything else in her little body. However, it's going to happen whether I want it to or not. So, Kyoto was the next best option; Pepaminto was telling me about them. They get kids in faster: I only had to wait two weeks. Unfortunately, I'll have to get the kids up and going by 4:00 AM to get there on time." Ryou informed Lettuce.
"You do what you have to for your kids." Pie calmly stated, watching Lettuce.
"Are you pregnant?" Ryou asked, watching Lettuce after noticing the look Pie gave her.
"Three weeks. We had been trying and it finally happened." Lettuce answered with a smile.
"Congratulations." Ryou sincerely told Lettuce and Pie.
"Thank you." Lettuce and Pie replied.
"Your mom called; I panicked and told her what happened. I'm sorry." Lettuce explained and then apologized.
"Don't apologize; it's fine. They were going to find out one way or another." Ryou calmly replied.
"They'll be here in a few hours." Lettuce added, causing Ryou to groan in annoyance.
"It's fine. I should've seen that one coming as well." Ryou replied, running his hand through his hair.
"Wahh! Ahh! Ha, ha, ha! Daddy!" Mai screamed before she started bawling.
"Should we head out?" Lettuce asked, concerned.
"No. Wait, please. For Mai's sake, please." Ryou pleaded with them before going to his room.
"Hi, Princess. Come here. Shh. Shh. Shh. It's ok. Aunty Lettuce and Uncle Pie are here. Do you want to see them?" Ryou told Mai, carrying her to the living room once she stopped screaming.
"Hi, Mai! It's been so long; I've missed you so much!" Lettuce enthusiastically told Mai, walking over to her.
"Hi." Mai responded, rubbing her face in Ryou's shoulder.
"Can I hold you?" Lettuce gently asked.
"Me?" Mai asked, stunned.
"Yes, you. Who else would I be asking to hold? Your little friends over there? Oh, no. No offence, but they're too big for me to pick up. Not to mention, I don't think they'd want to be picked up and held. So, will you let me hold you?" Lettuce asked, watching Mai.
Mai didn't reply; she just held her arms out and waited for Lettuce to take her.
"Yes. Don't listen to anybody who tells you they hate you and that you should die; they're just jealous. Uncle Pie and I love you and think you're a beautiful little girl. Can I tell you a secret? Your daddy and friends already know, but they're the only ones." Lettuce gently told Mai.
"What?" Mai asked, confused, sniffling a little.
"I'm going to have a baby in several months." Lettuce quietly told Mai.
"Huh! A baby?" Mai asked, stunned, gasping a little, making Ryou, Lettuce, and even Pie chuckle slightly.
"Yes, a baby." Lettuce replied with a smile; she was so happy to see Mai and Ryou smiling.
"Where?" Mai asked, looking at Lettuce.
"Well, right now, it's in my tummy." Lettuce answered with a smile.
"Is it boy or girl?" Mai asked, perking up a little.
"Oh, we don't know yet. We won't know for a few months—or possibly until it's born. Uncle Pie and I have to talk about that. We have to discuss if we want to know—or if we want it to be a surprise." Lettuce explained, smiling at Mai.
"Prize?" Mai asked, confused.
"That's what I want." Pie spoke up.
"I guess we're going to wait until the baby's born to find out if it's a boy or a girl. But that's fine with me; I just want it to be healthy. But if you had to guess, what do you think the baby's going to be? A boy or a girl?" Lettuce replied and explained before asking Mai.
"Be careful, Lettuce; she may actually know that answer." Ryou warned Lettuce.
"It's fine." Lettuce and Pie spoke, watching Mai.
"Go ahead, Mai. What do you think our baby's going to be?" Lettuce asked again.
"Umm… A boy?" Mai asked, looking at Lettuce's stomach.
"A boy, hmm? Well, that's fantastic." Lettuce happily told Mai.
"Where is she?! Where is Little Mai! Who needs cheering up?!" Pudding exclaimed, bursting through the front door, dragging Tart in with her.
"Thanks for knocking." Ryou muttered, watching Pudding and Tart.
"There she is! There's my little Mai! Don't ever stop believing in yourself because we love you!" Pudding yelled, shaking Mai before hugging her.
"You look good." Pie teased Tart.
"Shut up. Pudding made me dress up like this." Tart grumbled.
Tart was wearing a cat onesie with a pair of blue suspenders, a polka dot shirt, red clown shoes, and a pink bedazzled collar.
Pudding was wearing a yellow dress with orange polka dots, pigtails, and makeup.
"Uncle Tart, the giant kitty-cat and I, Puddy the Clown, love you very much. We dressed up just for you!" Pudding happily announced, dragging Tart over with a leash.
"Meow." Tart meowed like a cat for Mai after Pudding jabbed him in the side.
"Well, I think it's time for Lettuce and me to go home now. We have a lot of organizing to do." Pie informed Ryou and Mai, laughing, making Mai laugh.
"You are so lucky this is for Mai." Tart grumbled to Pie.
"Bad kitty. You need to be a good, happy kitty for Mai." Pudding scolded Tart, pulling the leash again.
Pie lost it.
"See you all later. It was nice meeting you two. Come on, Pie." Lettuce told everyone, hugging Mai before leaving with Pie.
"Umple Tart, big kitty." Mai spoke, petting his head when Pudding lifted her.
"Meow. Meow. Meow." Tart meowed for Mai, making her smile.
"He's saying he loves you, too." Pudding proudly told Mai.
"Yes, I love you enough to dress up in this ridiculous costume. You and Pudding." Tart stated, annoyed, but did his best to smile for Mai.
"And now, we go to the circus!" Pudding happily declared, leading the way with Mai in her arms.
"Oh, no. Mai's not well enough for the circus right now." Ryou tried stopping Pudding.
"Oh, hi, Keiichiro, Zakuro. Kenji and Mika." Pudding happily greeted while Tart grumbled.
"Why do you look like a furry convention threw up on you?" Zakuro asked Tart, taking a picture.
"That's it! I'm out of this thing!" Tart yelled, ripping his costume off.
"Come here, Princess." Keiichiro insisted, taking Mai from Pudding.
"Now, you know Mika is our number one little girl because she's our daughter. But Aunty Zakuro and I still love you just as much." Keiichiro sincerely told Mai, hugging her.
"Mika and Kenji are only babies, but they still love you very much: they love hugging and slobbering on their cousin." Zakuro told Mai with a smile.
"Who are they?" Pudding asked, finally noticing Fai and Kurogane.
"This is my adopted son, Fai, and Kurogane. They both live here with us. Boys, these are two more of our friends, Pudding, and Tart. And then the babies are Keiichiro and Zakuro's twins, Mika and Kenji.
"That Yuko lady Pie was talking about?" Tart asked, watching Ryou, Fai, and Kurogane.
"That's correct." Ryou replied.
"It's nice to meet you. Welcome to our family!" Pudding excitedly declared, hugging Fai and Kurogane.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
"Coming!" Ryou called, walking to the door.
"Hey." Pepaminto greeted with a smile.
"Hey, come in. Who's this?" Ryou asked, looking at a tall man with short, camo-green hair and brown eyes.
"This is my boyfriend of a month, Hikaru. I hope you don't mind that I brought him; we were on a date when Lettuce texted me.
"Come in. But you know my rules: as long as he's no threat to Mai, he's fine." Ryou replied, letting the two in.
"He's great with kids; he has four nieces and five nephews." Pepaminto replied with a smile.
"Fai, Kurogane: this is Pepaminto; she's another friend. Pepaminto: these are Fai and Kurogane; they live with Mai, Mokona, and me. And then, this is Pepaminto's boyfriend, Hikaru." Ryou introduced everyone again.
"Nice to meet you. Now, where's my favorite little girl?" Pepaminto replied before asking.
"Oh, stop looking around like that. You're my favorite little girl. I love you so much!" Pepaminto exclaimed, hugging the life out of Mai.
"Please take it easy; Mai hasn't been eating much these past four days. She doesn't have a lot of strength right now." Ryou insisted.
"Sorry. She's just so cute and huggable!" Pepaminto declared.
"I wonder if Kiwi, Kek, Nashi, and Koda will show up as well." Ryou wondered aloud.
"I can tell you that Kiwi and Keki won't: they're on vacation in the Bahamas with Kiwi's family. And I doubt Nashi and Koda will because she has baby fever and they've been busy trying to make a baby." Zakuro informed Ryou.
"Right. I forgot that Kiwi won a trip to the Bahamas. And good for them. See, Baby: you are loved. Maybe not everyone loves you, but the only people who matter are the ones that do." Ryou absentmindedly spoke before gently telling Mai.
"Sorry we're late." Nashi burst through the door with Koda.
"Good to see you too. If you were busy, you didn't have to stop by. You could've called, texted, video chatted, or come over when you weren't busy." Ryou calmly insisted, watching Nashi.
Truth be told, he and Nashi didn't see eye to eye. But she was nice to Mai. To him, that was all that mattered.
A lot of the animosity came from the fact that he had twins, just let Ichigo take off with one, and she didn't have a single child when she desperately wanted one. Also, she likes to take over when it comes to Mai.
Koda wanted kids but felt that it would happen when it happens. He and Ryou get along decently well.
"Oh, no. This is perfectly fine. I love my little Mai. How could you make her feel so unloved?" Nashi refused before accusing Ryou.
"Excuse me?" Ryou asked, appalled.
"From what I was told, she felt like nobody loved her and everyone hated her including her, and that she should die. That's just not true. And on top of all that, you have two strange boys living with you now? How would you like to come stay with me and Koda?" Nashi continued insulting Ryou before asking Mai.
"No, tank you. I wan stay wit Daddy an Moko Bunny an Fai an Kurgi an S'mores an Orieo an Leo an Luna." Mai replied, naming off everyone she lived with.
"Didn't you have four dogs?" Nashi asked, watching Ryou.
"Ichigo and Kai took Marshmallow and Graham-cracker." Ryou answered, trying to remain calm.
"So, she just gets to take the dogs as well as Kai?" Nashi asked, annoyed.
"Let me get some things perfectly clear. One: the only reason why Ichigo got full custody of Kai is because he prefers her. Two: in the end, instead of having both twins every other weekend, Ichigo, Kish, and Masaya ran away with Kai. I decided to drop it because Kai was threatening Mai: I didn't want him to physically hurt her. Three: as it would turn out, Kish was the mastermind behind everything. But you know what? Whatever. Kai is happy and is being taken care of, and that's all that matters to me. Four: Marshmallow and Graham-cracker are Kai's dogs, not mine or Mai's. Leo and Luna are Mai's dogs, not Ichigo's or Kai's. And before you say anything: S'mores and Orieo are more Mai's cats; Kai never really connected to them. Five: who I allow to live in my house is none of your business. They're safe and have been good with Mai—well, they've tried to be. It's kind of hard with Masaya saying everyone hates her. Finally: Mai is my daughter, not yours: stop acting like it and trying to take control. You will have children one day: just give it time. I'm sorry I had children before you—as a teenager, but there's nothing I can do about that, other than love the one I have unconditionally. And I do love Mai more than anything. I will always love that little girl more than anything or anyone." Ryou put his foot down and firmly told Nashi after having enough.
"Well, sorry. Mai, this doll is for you. Come on, Koda; let's go home." Nashi angrily apologized before handing Mai a doll; she angrily ordered Koda, walking away.
"Sorry about all this." Koda apologized before leaving with Nashi.
"It'll be better when she becomes pregnant." Zakuro insisted.
"Right." Ryou agreed, sighing in frustration.
"I'm sorry about Nashi. If I knew she'd flip out like this, I wouldn't have texted her." Pepaminto apologized.
"It's not your fault. And Zakuro's right: she'll most likely be better once she has a baby." Ryou replied, lifting Mai into his arms.
"I'm sorry, but we should probably be heading out." Pepaminto apologized, watching Ryou.
"Oh, no. It's no problem. Thanks for stopping by—all of you." Ryou replied, understanding. Besides, he had to try to get Mai to eat something.
"Tank come by." Mai softly thanked everybody.
"Oh, you are so very welcome. Just wait. One of these days, we'll do something fun for you. We will see you later." Pepaminto told Mai, patting her head with a smile before heading to the door.
"Bye. It was nice meeting you." Hikaru bid farewell.
"You as well." Ryou replied with a small smile.
"Are you still doing a big birthday party for her?" Pudding asked, watching Ryou.
"Eventually, yes." Ryou answered, rocking with Mai.
"It was supposed to be the yesterday, wasn't it?" Tart asked.
"Yes; her and Kai were supposed to have a big birthday party at the park yesterday. But then all that happened with Ichigo, Kish, and Masaya. And we added two more family members—which is great; it's nice having help with Mai again. And then Mai started becoming sick. I just called and canceled. Maybe if she's feeling better by Friday, we'll do something at the café or something. Either way, I'll figure something out. Now, are you ready to eat something?" Ryou replied before asking Mai.
"Soup?" Mai softly asked.
"Soup?" Ryou asked, watching Mai lean her head against his shoulder.
"Yes, pease." Mai softly replied.
"I can do that." Ryou happily told Mai.
"Tart and I will see ourselves out. Feel better, Mai. Next time, we'll go to the circus or something." Pudding informed Ryou before proudly declaring.
"It's ok if you have somewhere else to be. We're fine here. Thank you so much for coming. I'll have to remember to text all the others and thank them as well. Mai seems so much better. But really, if you need to be elsewhere, that's fine. I'm sure my parents and Tomohiro will be here shortly. Is something going on?" Ryou sincerely told Keiichiro and Zakuro before seeing something in their eyes.
"Hold on. Let me get Mai some soup and then we'll talk." Ryou insisted, taking Mai to the kitchen.
Five Minutes Later:
"You two stay with Mai, please." Ryou told Fai and Kurogane after setting Mai in her booster seat.
"Of course." Fai and Kurogane replied, sitting in their chairs.
"Where'd Zakuro go?" Ryou asked, looking around.
"She left." Keiichiro calmly answered.
"Well, I see that. Where'd she go?" Ryou asked again.
"No: she left me—entirely." Keiichiro answered.
"What about the twins?" Ryou asked, shocked.
"They're not mine. They belong to a man she met a few years ago. However, she's not with him either; she and Mint are dating, I suppose. They're moving to Paris together." Keiichiro explained, shocking Ryou even further.
"I am so sorry. Where are you staying now? What about your things?" Ryou asked, knowing the house was Zakuro's.
"I'm at a hotel for the time being. I have all my clothes, pictures, and other important things with me; everything else is in storage." Keiichiro calmly answered.
"Do you need a place to stay? Because we're moving—hopefully in a few months—it'd only be temporary, but your room's still available upstairs. And of course, you're always welcome to move with us." Ryou offered—pretty much insisted.
"No—thank you. Ryou, it'd be too awkward." Keiichiro replied.
"How so?" Ryou asked, confused.
"Ryou, I've come to realize who I am. And who I am is a gay man." Keiichiro calmly told Ryou.
"Ok. And?" Ryou asked, still confused.
"Ryou, I love you; I have for a few years now. I really love you." Keiichiro sincerely told Ryou, shocking him.
"Keiichiro, I…" "I know. That's why I can't live with you. Well, I should head out. Let Mai know I lied earlier; she is my number one little girl." Ryou started only to have Keiichiro interrupt him.
"Keiichiro, wait!" Ryou called, stopping Keiichiro.
"Ry—" Keiichiro started only to be interrupted by Ryou kissing him.
"What was that?" Keiichiro asked, stunned.
"Sorry. It's just—I can't let you leave. Not without telling you I love you as well." Ryou sincerely told Keiichiro.
"But you're straight." Keiichiro responded, watching Ryou.
"No—I'm Bi. Keiichiro, I've always loved you. But I honestly thought you were straight. When it comes to men, you're the only one I love. That's why I focused on women: I knew I wouldn't love any man like I love you. And you know what? Maybe I am gay. Maybe that's why it didn't work with Lettuce or Ichigo. I understand if you need time, but I don't want you to leave." Ryou poured his heart out to Keiichiro.
Keiichiro didn't say anything; he couldn't say anything. So, he did the only thing he could think of; he pulled Ryou into a deep, passionate kiss, holding him close.
"Daddy?" Mai asked, walking out of the kitchen.
"Well, this is unexpected." Ami and Jin spoke, stunned.
At the same time, Tomohiro just stared, beyond shocked.
"Jesus. Doesn't anyone knock anymore?" Ryou asked, pulling away, shocked.
"Sorry. We just came to see Mai. I couldn't wait. Congratulations. My poor baby. Just look at you. Don't you worry; Grandma will make things all better." Ami replied before going to Mai and lifting her into her arms.
"Daddy kiss Umple Keii like he kiss Mommy." Mai spoke, confused.
"Yes. And how do you feel about that?" Ami asked, walking over to Ryou.
"Daddy love Umple Keii like he love Mommy?" Mai asked, still confused.
"No. I think Daddy loves Uncle Keiichiro way more than he loved Mommy." Jin stated with a smile.
"Now it makes sense." Tomohiro announced.
"What makes sense?" Ami and Jin asked while Fai and Kurogane stared.
"Why Keiichiro was always sad, and Ryou was always angry at everything except Mai. Those girls say that Ryou was always angry, and Keiichiro always seemed sad even before Mai came around. It makes sense. They're both gay and were unhappy in straight relationships." Tomohiro clarified what he meant.
"Mommy no love Daddy no moe. She love Mr. Kiss and Mr. Masa." Mai stated, reaching for Ryou.
"That's true. But I don't love Mommy anymore: I don't think I ever did. I'll explain it to you when you're older. Ok?" Ryou gently told Mai.
"Otay. You love Umple Keii now?" Mai asked, leaning against Ryou.
"I've always loved Keiichiro. I was just stupid and didn't see it. But now, if he wants to be together, I would like that." Ryou told Mai and Keiichiro.
"I'd like that. What do you think, Mai?" Keiichiro replied with a smile before asking Mai.
"Dat mean Umple Keii Daddy too?" Mai asked, confused.
"I don't know. That would be between you and him. Do you want Keiichiro to be your daddy too?" Ryou asked Mai, smiling his first genuine smile in years—except when smiling at Mai.
"What 'bout Mika an Kenji?" Mai asked, confused.
"Umm…" Keiichiro and Ryou started, unsure.
"They're not Keiichiro's." Mint spoke, appearing out of nowhere.
"Mint, knock it off. Sorry. I forgot my bag. But Mint is correct. Mai, I love you very much, but I'm moving away with Mint, Mika, and Kenji. Keiichiro is going to stay here with you, your daddy, Fai, and Kurogane. I don't think he knew what was going to happen today, so he couldn't tell you the truth, but Mika isn't his number one little girl; you are. Ok?" Zakuro explained to Mai.
"Otay." Mai replied, still confused. Yet, at the same time, she seemed happy.
"You all take care. Bye." Zakuro told everyone before leaving with Mint.
"Do I has two daddies now?" Mai asked, looking at Ryou and Keiichiro.
"Do you want two daddies?" Ami asked, watching Mai.
"Yeah." Mai answered with a smile that Ryou loved so much.
"Then two daddies you shall have." Ryou replied, hugging Mai.
"Yay. I has two daddies an bigger brudder an Kurgi an gramma an grampa an Umple Tomo an Moko Bunny an kitties an doggies." Mai happily announced, wiggling around.
"Yes, you do. Are you feeling better now?" Ryou asked, holding her close.
"Yes. I has moe soup now?" Mai asked, tilting her head back.
"Yes. But you see Daddy first." Ryou told Mai, handing her to Keiichiro.
"Otay. I love you, Daddy." Mai told Keiichiro, hugging him.
"I love you, too." Keiichiro replied, tearing up a little…