Counting backwards, it had been five months since Fumei had last seen and slept with Sorako. Five months since that damn woman had spoiled everything by announcing to his grandmother's entire court that the Lord of the South Wind had not only been fraternizing with but claimed to love a lowly servant. The moment Higashikaze had crowed of his unnatural love for the sky sprite he so foolishly gambled away, Fumei had tore from the room, racing out, down, anywhere he could go to get out of the palace.
He had stopped at the edge of the woods, near that damn marble fountain, and thrown up violently, spewing everything he had consumed in what felt like the last five days. When he was finally able to catch his breath, he had slumped miserably against a tree, tugging his knees to his chest and burying his face in his arms.
He'd hardly been able to stop throwing up since then. Every time he thought of the shame and scorn he'd brought upon his father's name, a new wave of nausea would wash over him. Every time he remembered that moment that he'd told Sorako he loved him, he wound up in the bathroom, hunched weakly over the toilet. He'd spent five long months curled up, hiding in his bed, his mother telling every one he was indisposed. Servants made sure he was fed and watered, and tended to when he was sick.
His mother was worried and he didn't care. His kingdom would suffer and he didn't care. He felt like he was dying.
And he didn't care.
He wanted Sorako. He loved Sorako. There was no point in denying it now; no point in trying to hide the tears at his own foolishness and naiveté. His heart broke all over again every time he so much as thought of the sprite. Sorako had neither tried to see him nor contact him and he feared that this time he had really blown it. This time, he wouldn't get a second chance. It was over. Sora hated him.
"Fumei, get up!" It wasn't a typical morning if his mother didn't come barging in, ordering him out of bed. He usually rolled over, ignoring her, and this morning wasn't going to be an exception.
"Up!" She tore back the blankets, revealing her silk-clad son, "Your grandmother wants to see you and she cannot see you looking like this."
He curled in on himself, burying his face in his arms. "Go 'way." He didn't want to see any one and especially not his grandmother.
"You are going to see her, like it or not." Tayou clapped her hands and a flurry of dark-haired servants breezed into the room, lifting Fumei gently, carrying him over to the large bath in the corner of the room. He was stripped and dumped in the tub, lathered, scrubbed and rinsed, all the while staring blankly at the wall, ignoring the hands on his body, the way they all looked at him with such pity.
He was redressed in proper clothes for the first time in over three months and just barely registered that his finest dress clothes hardly fit him. Somehow, amidst all the throwing up and refusal to eat, he had gained weight and the waist of his pants stretched over the taught skin of his tanned stomach. He ignored it, like he did everything else, grateful no one bothered to comment, although his mother was giving him a worried look while she oversaw the dressing.
Fumei was surprised to find that instead of making the customary cross-ocean trip to his grandmother's palace, Kamikaze-sama was simply waiting in the throne room, perched ceremoniously on the throne of his father, the late South Wind. She looked the same as always, golden and radiant, but her usually smiling mouth was drawn in a thin line.
She watched as her grandson crossed the threshold, steps leaden, face blank. He paused a few feet in front of the throne, bowing politely. "Fumei." His head rose at the sound of his name and she winced at the emotionless look in his eyes. "Come." She beckoned with one slender hand, the bracelets around her wrist clinking merrily.
He trotted forward obediently, stopping directly in front of her, those gray-purple eyes staring unseeingly. She assessed him for a moment, then, without warning, tore apart the front of his robes, revealing his stretched pants and swollen stomach. "What," She demanded, "Is this?"
He knew damn well what that was, no matter how hard he had pretended it wasn't there. He had refused to acknowledge it for the past month and a half, through first the soft swell of his abdomen, then the gentle rock-a-bye tides from within and later the fluttering, pushing and kicks. If he didn't accept it, it didn't exist.
Thatchose the particular moment his grandmother laid a tentative hand across the stretched flesh to give a rather vindictive kick, as if it was angry its existence had been denied. Kamikaze started, but didn't pull back her hand, simply gazed at her grandson's stomach in wonder.
Tayou stood in the doorway, watching as her mother confirmed what the servants had told her and she had wished wasn't true. Those who had been in charge of dressing and bathing Fumei had been concerned and had told her time and again, but she had tried hard to explain it away in other ways. Now, watching the scene unfold as Kamikaze stroked softly along the bare curve of Fumei's stomach, she could no longer come up with any other reasonable explanation. It was rare, but not unheard of.
Her only child, already the laughingstock of the court, was an illegitimately pregnant man.
"It is Sorako's, is it not?" Kamikaze was asking as she caressed the skin, pleased to be rewarded with another strong kick.
"Who else's would it be?" Fumei asked stiffly, staring sullenly down at his slightly displaced navel. There was no avoiding it now. He was going to have a baby. He was an even bigger screw-up than every one thought.
"Fumei…" Kamikaze's voice was gentle, not accusing now, "Why did you not tell any one?" She was doing some quick mental calculations in an attempt to figure out how far along her grandson might be. The gathering at her palace had been five months ago, it could easily have been that long. She moved her hands lower, feeling, probing to make sure the baby was the right size.
"And do what? Sit around while every one laughs at me even more for being the most pathetic lord ever?" Angry tears filled his eyes, "This is a mistake! I don't want it and I never did! I am stupid, I made a mistake, and now I have to pay for it! Can't I suffer for my foolishness without every one knowing about it?"
"Fumei, this is a miracle! How can you say you do not want it?" Kamikaze's golden eyes widened and she gaped at the boy.
"I'm scared, obaasan!" The little lord finally broke down and wailed, "I'm a boy! I never should have to have worried about having a baby and here I am with this thing kicking away inside me!" He sobbed, shoulders shaking as the baby pummeled him with a swift assault of kicks and punches.
Kamikaze hugged him close, glaring over his shoulder at Tayou, who was still standing woodenly in the doorway. She had made no move to comfort her son, rather she looked slightly ill. "It will be okay, little one." The wind goddess soothed, "I promise; your mother and I will help you. We will make sure you have a big, healthy baby and we will get Sorako back for you."
Fumei flinched away at that, something in his eyes dying again. "Sorako won't want to see me. I've been an idiot." He said quietly.
"That is not true and you know it." Kamikaze tipped his chin back up gently so that they were eye to eye, "He loves you very much."
"No he doesn't." The little lord jerked away again, hugging himself tightly, wanting to cover up his stomach again, "I pushed him into it. He was always worried we'd be in trouble." He bowed his head, hair curtaining around his face, "I'm in big trouble now."
"Fumei, Sorako has not and will not abandon you." The goddess brushed back her grandson's bangs, "He has been just as miserable as you."
"You've seen him?" Fumei's head jerked back up, "Have you seen him, obaasan? Is he okay? Is she treating him well?" He asked desperately, eager to know any news of his lover.
"He misses you very much, little one." She hugged him gently, "And I believe he would be thrilled to see you and learn of this little one." She caressed his stomach gently, smiling as the baby kicked again, "Do not worry. Things will work out as they should."
But Fumei was close to tears again. "Obaasan, I cannot go marching into Higashikaze-sama's palace demanding to see Sorako in this condition! Think of the shame I would bring to you and Mama. I can't show my face anywhere! Not looking like this!"
"No, you cannot." His grandmother tried to hide her amusement. For some reason, she found the look on Fumei's face rather funny. The whole predicament was rather funny, if you looked past all of the painful emotions involved. "I will take care of it for you. You just worry about keeping my great-grandchild healthy."
Her glee at the situation was not lost on the boy, however, and his chin rose defiantly. "Iie. I am not that pathetic yet." At the that mirthful expression, something inside of him had hardened. His nerves were tightening; firm as tempered steel. He wouldn't bring any more shame to the bloodline. "I am a lord. I am a lord and I will do as I please. I want Sorako back and I will get him back."
"What of the baby, Fumei? You said yourself that you cannot go barging into Arai's temple in your current state." Kamikaze was interested by this. Fumei had never displayed such a backbone before. She was curious to see how far he would take it.
"I can hide the baby! I am not that fat yet that I can't cover it up." Fumei's eyes flashed, "I want my mate back, Kamikaze-sama." This sad, his hands snatched at the soft fabric of his robes, drawing them back over his rounded stomach. He then turned on his heal and marched out of the room, past his stunned mother.
Tayou slumped back against the doorframe, stunned. She couldn't seem to form a coherent sentence. In a matter of moments her son had gone from sullen, to angry, to sobbing and back to angry again. She opened her mouth, trying to speak, but found that her throat was rather dry. "Wha….?" She managed to squeak out.
Kamikaze, on the other hand, sat back in the throne, rather amused. "Must be his hormones." She laughed.