Giyuu was beginning to think that the challenges of parenting a child would pale in comparison to looking after his husband.
According to Aoi, they’d found out they were pregnant remarkably late after Sanemi missed his period for the second month in a row and it began to dawn on them that maybe that wasn’t normal for someone who’s been off testosterone for almost a year.
At first, Giyuu had panicked: babies hated him. He’d never even had a pet until recently, let alone fathered a child. Sanemi talked him through it. He insisted that he’d do the heavy lifting, that Giyuu would be a wonderful father before he even knew it; after all, Sanemi had raised six younger siblings, and they had the kids and the Uzuis to back them up. Since it was Sanemi’s body, Giyuu couldn’t do much more than agree.
That being said, his pregnant husband didn’t seem to hold any qualms going about business as usual, which frayed Giyuu’s nerves to no end.
Giyuu had assumed that as Sanemi grew more pregnant (riper, as Uzui so eloquently put it) they would cut down on their frequent travels to the mountains and the city in favor of sticking close to home, and more importantly, close to the Flower Estate. They did not. Month after month, Sanemi continued his regular work in the kitchen and garden, trips to the market, and visits to their former comrades as though nothing were amiss. If he could fight demons with his organs spilling out of him, Sanemi argued, he could handle carrying a few extra pounds up a hill.
Giyuu tried to gently convince him that, yes, while he admired his stamina, no, this really wasn’t the same thing as fighting demons, and it wouldn’t kill them to take it easy for a little while, especially with both of them technically retired; Sanemi had none of it. Even nearing seven months, he refused to keep still.
“He says I'm coddling him, but he's practically lying to my face about his health," Giyuu complained to the Kamados when they came to visit while Sanemi worked in the garden. "I found him passed out in the kitchen yesterday, and when I asked him this morning, he said he had no problems with anemia at all. We never used to lie to each other, but… maybe he doesn't trust me because I'm just worrying too much."
"Uh-huh. What’s your dog’s name again?" Nezuko played on the floor with their shiba inu.
Tanjirou frowned. "You found your husband passed out on the floor, and you waited until later to ask him about it?"
Giyuu waved him off. "It happens all the time."
"Giyuu-san, with all due respect... I don't think you're worrying enough."
"Well--” He rested his chin in his palm. "--Sanemi nursed his mother through several pregnancies. Maybe I just need to trust his judgment."
"I dunno about that," Nezuko piped up. "Remember that time you both had the flu? And Sanemi-san thought he was well enough to carry you all the way to the Flower Estate?"
Hardly. He remembered the aftermath. They both went on.
"Remember when you let him pick the flower arrangements for your wedding, and he didn't mention he was colorblind?"
"And then fell down the stairs on the way to the ceremony and showed up with a concussion?"
"Also, remember pretty much every life decision Sanemi-san made before you got together?" Tanjirou pointed out. "Out of the two of you, I definitely trust Giyuu-san's judgment more." His face scrunched up. "Er… slightly."
Nezuko nodded in solemn agreement.
Giyuu sipped his tea. "You may be right."
Sanemi was pretty stupid. But Giyuu was stupid, too, and he wouldn't have it any other way. He found himself smiling. Tanjirou smiled back, softening.
"You really love him, don't you?"
Tanjirou never liked Sanemi, Giyuu knew. But Sanemi was the reason Giyuu could smile again, and Tanjirou, whom Giyuu had grown to think of as the little brother he’d never had, gradually warmed up to him as the nurturer of Giyuu’s happiness. Nezuko’s forgiving heart may have also played a role. While Sanemi would never admit it, Giyuu knew the feeling was mutual.
"I do," Giyuu mused. "I think our whole lives were worth it for meeting each other."
Nezuko rolled onto her stomach, scratching the dog's. "Awww!"
A splash sounded from the garden outside. Giyuu paid it no mind, daydreaming about the love of his life.
"Did you hear that?"
Tanjirou stood up. "I think it came from the garden."
Loud, distant cursing erupted through the walls. Daikon yawned, but both the kids' eyes widened in alarm.
Nezuko pulled at Giyuu's sleeve. "That was--"
"My husband,” Giyuu murmured mostly to himself.
“Your pregnant husband,” Tanjirou urgently reminded him, “who’s alone right now.”
"Hmm." Giyuu sighed. "Could you say 'husband' again?"
"Giyuuuuu-!" Sanemi screamed.
Finally, Giyuu blinked back to reality. He rose.
Nezuko was already on her feet. "Should we--"
"Hang on." Giyuu held her arm. "I think I know what happened. You two wait here."
His suspicions were confirmed when he stepped into the garden.
Sanemi lied on his back, head pointed downhill towards the pond. He was not at all dressed for the approaching winter, Giyuu noted, but at least his chest was covered today. When Giyuu squinted into the water, he could make out the pair of clippers that had fallen into it. Sanemi's favorite dogwood sapling sat between his legs. His belly sagged downhill.
"I can see that."
"Is everything okay?" Nezuko called from the door.
Giyuu jumped. "Everything's fine!"
He tried to reply quickly so she wouldn't come outside, but she'd already seen. Sanemi had already seen her see. She retreated inside.
Giyuu winced. He offered an apologetic hand. Sanemi accepted.
"This is humiliating," he grumbled.
"Sorry." Giyuu tried not to let it show how much effort it took to pull Sanemi upright--he didn't want to make him more self-conscious--but to his own credit, it was nearly eighty-five kilograms versus his left arm. "Maybe you should take a break from gardening for a while? It's cold, after all."
Once sitting up, Sanemi swatted his hand away, though huffing with the effort. "Please. I can handle myself."
Giyuu gave in easily. "Okay."
They shuffled inside. Tanjirou and Nezuko waited sheepishly, avoiding eye contact with Sanemi, who had yet to catch his breath. Giyuu poured him tea.
They all sat with the sound of heavy breathing for a moment. Adzuki approached and started purring.
Nezuko, bless her, changed the subject. "Sanemi-san, did you try that recipe I sent last week?"
"The oshiruko, you mean? Uh-huh. Pretty good."
"Sanemi's been trying some of the western goodies Kanroji used to make lately," Giyuu told them.
"Mmm--ooh!" Tanjirou slapped the table excitedly, mid-sip. "Pancakes!"
Sanemi wiped up Tanjirou's spilled tea without comment, so Giyuu replied on his behalf. "There was another thing we found in her recipes that I really liked… um…"
"Pumpkin bread," Sanemi supplied.
"Yes, pumpkin bread. Actually, I picked up a sweet pumpkin the other day--we should save the seeds for spring."
"That sounds delicious!" Nezuko clapped. "You should show us how to make it!"
"Later," Sanemi grunted. He stood with some effort, picking up his and Tanjirou's empty cups. "Tired."
He placed them on a tray to clean later.
He disappeared into the bedroom.
Giyuu waved him goodnight, then took a long sip. He looked up to find Tanjirou and Nezuko both staring at him expectantly.
They made some vague hand motions. Their family resemblance became clear in moments like these.
Finally, Tanjirou gave up. "He seemed upset," he hissed. "Shouldn’t you go check?"
"Plus, your cat wants in," Nezuko added.
Giyuu looked. Adzuki pawed at the sliding door.
"Oh." Giyuu watched longingly. "I mean. You're sure you don't…?"
"Nuh-uh! We can amuse ourselves!"
"Cranky husband--got it!"
Giyuu would never get sick of hearing that word. He nodded gratefully.
"I can still hear you, morons." Sanemi's beautiful voice cut through the thin wall.
The Kamados winced, but Giyuu didn't waver. He approached the door.
He gave them one last thumbs-up, which Nezuko returned with enthusiasm and Tanjirou returned with a pinched smile that seemed to say good luck.
He let the cat in.
Sanemi lied on his side with his back to Giyuu. He didn’t react to the door sliding open, but Giyuu knew he was awake. He held a book.
Sanemi didn’t answer.
Without trepidation, Giyuu slid the door closed and lay down behind him on the futon, snuggling up to Sanemi’s back. Adzuki happily secured a position between their knees. These days, Sanemi ran hot--something about increased blood flow or something--which served Giyuu perfectly, since he grew cold easily after losing his arm. He’d miss having a personal heater to cling to; he had a feeling the pets would, too.
“Do you want to talk about it, or do you want to go to sleep?”
Sanemi curled his knees, giving Adzuki a cozier nook to squeeze into. She purred happily.
“Can’t sleep,” he grumbled. “Couldn’t last night, either.”
Giyuu buried his nose in his hair, trying not to let the warmth distract him. “I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault.”
“You should wake me next time. I’ll keep you company.”
Giyuu knew he wouldn’t. He loved and hated Sanemi’s selfless streak.
When Sanemi didn’t answer, he went on:
“So, will you tell me what’s wrong?”
“Fine.” Sanemi scooted backward so Giyuu could wrap his arm around him. “I hate being gross all the time.”
“You’re not gross,” Giyuu assured.
“I’m sweaty all the time,” he argued. “I’m always hungry and winded--I ate a whole pot of soup yesterday before you got home.”
“Is that why you were in the kitchen so late?”
“Uh-huh. Tried make more before you got back, but then I got tired.”
“So you napped on the floor?”
“You weren’t supposed to see.” Sanemi shifted uncomfortably, so Giyuu loosened his grip. “Also--” He hesitated. “--I might've pissed myself a little bit earlier.”
“So? That’s fucking gross.”
Giyuu shrugged as much as he could lying down. “Those are all things I do.”
Sanemi craned his neck to glare at him.
“... Shut up.”
“It’s true. That thing you said at the Uzuis’ last week made me laugh so hard I peed a little.”
Sanemi scoffed, but his voice was smiling. “You can’t make me feel better by being grosser than me.” He slapped him lightly. “Plus, that’s… different.”
“You’re right,” Giyuu agreed. “You’re only gross for a few months. For me, it’s terminal.”
Sanemi laughed at that--not in pain, like from their demon hunting days, but genuinely--and for the millionth time since he’d first heard it, Giyuu embraced the wave of pride, affection, and giddiness that came with it. He’d never get sick of that sound.
“Maybe you’re right,” Sanemi sighed. “I just like being in control, you know? I’m sick of my body doing all this weird shit without my input.” He put a hand on top of Giyuu’s. “This thing needs to hurry up.”
“Mmm. Just a couple more months.”
The pillow muffled Sanemi’s voice as he sunk into it; he was falling asleep. Giyuu kissed the back of his warm neck.
“Thanks for putting up with me.”
Giyuu’s heart clenched.
As wrong as it felt to admit it, Giyuu loved Sanemi at his most vulnerable. Sanemi constantly picked him up off the ground, wiped his tears, made him bold, but he rarely gave Giyuu the chance to return the favor. Every opportunity to take care of him was a gift, not a burden.
He couldn’t find the words, so instead, he kissed Sanemi a dozen more times. He strained his whole torso to lean over and reach his ear, his cheek, the corner of his mouth.
“I love you,” Giyuu said, “so, so much.”
Sanemi kissed the back of his hand. “Mmm.”
Giyuu rubbed circles on Sanemi’s shoulder. He wasn’t tired, but he didn’t mind lying around for a bit. Especially in the warmth.
(In fact, up until the last few months, it was Giyuu who always wanted to sleep all afternoon and Sanemi who always dragged him out of bed. Maybe he’d be a little more sympathetic to his depression naps in the future.)
After a long while, Sanemi’s breath evened out, falling into rhythm with the tranquilizing melody of Adzuki’s purrs. Giyuu stayed for just a little bit longer.
Then, he remembered they had guests over who he’d left to entertain themselves at the table.
Giyuu wormed his way out.
He found the kids in the kitchen after seeing the table cleared and empty, washing dishes in the tub. Nezuko beamed in greeting. Giyuu pressed a coy finger to his lips, which they both returned, giggling.
“Everything alright?” Tanjirou whispered.
“Just the usual,” Giyuu assured. “I’m sorry--you didn’t have to clean up. I don’t mean to be such a rude host.”
“Nonsense!” Nezuko laughed. “The last time you came over, we made you carry charcoal up a hill!”
Her smile was contagious.
“I’m just glad you two are doing okay,” Tanjirou assured. “Even with me and Nezuko’s help, our parents were exhausted when they had our siblings. And Giyuu-san is like family to us--just say the word, and we’ll come running!”
These two were living rays of sunshine; no wonder they were special. Giyuu hoped his gratitude showed.
Nezuko shook her hands dry. “Hmm. Although…” She placed a hand on the pumpkin on the counter. “There is one thing you could do to repay us.”
“Oh.” Giyuu blinked. “Of course. I’m sure Sanemi will make some bread for you once he’s feeling better.”
Nezuko groaned. “But that could take all day!” She tugged at Giyuu’s sleeve. “Just show us how to make it? Please?”
Giyuu had never made pumpkin bread. In fact, he’d never made any type of bread before. In fact, he couldn’t cook to save his life. He did it anyway sometimes, mostly because the expressions Sanemi made when he tried to politely choke it down were funny, but never in a million years would he wish that fate upon the two he considered his little siblings.
They pouted up at him.
They cheered (prematurely). Giyuu picked up Kanroji’s cookbook.
(Sanemi joined them in the kitchen a few hours later to a pumpkin-splattered counter, a tub full of dishes, and one tin of smoking sludge that Giyuu hesitated to call bread. He kissed his stupid husband on the mouth long enough to make Nezuko whistle and Tanjirou gag.)
(Giyuu wouldn’t have it any other way.)