Well, I know that we've been hardly holding on
To tell the truth, I can't believe we got this far Running near on empty
-Fade by Lewis Capaldi-
It was Christmas Eve, almost midnight, the snow was falling peacefully, too peacefully for what was about to change my whole life. Phichit was spending the holidays with me before flying off to Thailand, and we were comfortably snuggled up under the covers, watching some sappy x-mas movie.
My best friend was engrossed with what was happening on the screen, but my mind kept going back to my boyfriend. Vitya had gone to Russia with his best friend Christophe for the winter break to visit some aunt. Things hadn’t been easy for our couple for a while now and I had looked up to spend our first holidays together in our new apartment. To say that I was a little sad about being left alone in our home was an understatement. I felt heart broken, deceived and betrayed.
My scent must have changed to reflect my feelings, because my friend suddenly side hugged me. He didn’t say anything, and I was grateful for his silent support. I rested my head on his shoulder and tried to concentrate on the movie.
Some time passed, and I was almost falling asleep when my phone rang, jolting both of us. I got up so fast to pick it up that my legs got tangled in the covers and almost fell, which earned me a snort from Phichit. I couldn’t care less, though. It was Vitya’s ringtone.
"Hey, ̎ I answered, breathless, and almost bursting from the joy of getting to hear my beloved’s voice. But his reply didn’t come immediately and I worried he hadn’t heard me over all the noise I could hear through the receiver. The music was so loud, as was the laughter of his best friend. I was about to ask if everything was alright when finally his voice came through. He was sober, decided and deadly serious.
"I can’t take it anymore. I’m sick of this. Let’s break up."
Everything suddenly fell incredibly silent. It took me a full second to understand the meaning of those three little sentences.
"Vitya, wait- " I started to say, but he had already hung up. I was breathless but this time it felt as if someone had punched me in the gut. I looked at screen displaying his contact profile and the duration of the call. Thirty-seven seconds. I kept staring at the number until the screen blacked out. Did it seriously take only thirty-seven seconds to end a three year long relationship?
"Yuuri?" Phichit tried softly, but I could hear him worry. I slowly looked up from the device in my hand and wondered for a moment if I had forgotten to put on my glasses. Everything was so blurry, I could hardly see the expression on my friend’s face. Something warm slid down my cheek, and I understood that I was crying.
"V-Vi… he broke up with me? " I said, still unsure if everything was real. It couldn’t be. We had just recently moved in together in our cozy apartment. He promised everything would get better once we would start living under the same roof, he said we would be back to how happy we were before those last catastrophic months.
Loud, ugly sobs started racking through my whole body as I slowly fell to my knees. The pain and confusion were so overwhelming that I barely registered the arms surrounding me, and the gentle hush trying to comfort me. I cried and cried until I had no more energy and, as my mind slipped heavily into unconsciousness, a tiny, little part of me had a breath of relief and thought at least now we know what to do…
I had been walking on eggs for the last five months and without noticing I had become tired of not knowing how to act around the one person that meant the world to me. My heart cried the end that I had refused to see was inevitably coming our way. And maybe, just maybe, some of those tears were of relief.
The next days passed in a blur, the pain of the heartbreak so sickening that it made me nauseous, worrying Phichit who tried to comfort me as best as he could with his sunny smell. New Year came and went, taking my best friend back to his natal Thailand after making me promise to keep in touch.
The end of the first week of the year found me sitting in the waiting room of my regular clinic. The winter semester was about to start, and I needed a new prescription for my anxiety. He was also about to come back, and it terrorized me to no end. I had tried to contact him since that fatidic night to know what would happen with our living arrangements. Both our names were in the lease, so I couldn’t just ask him to leave. He did have his closest friends, Lauren and Christophe, here in Detroit, so maybe he would start living with one of them. It would be the easiest thing to do, and it would also allow me to stay in our current apartment. The rent was affordable for one person, and I wouldn’t have to look for a new place. I didn’t want to room with strangers, so living on my own would be best.
I was brought out of my head when the doctor called my name. She was a gentle middle-aged beta that had taken care of me for the past five years. After exchanging some formalities, her inspection began and I answered her questions like always, mentioning that I’ve been feeling a lot more tired lately. That in fact, I felt so tired sometimes that it made nauseous. That seemed to intrigue her, and she asked some more questions. Which brought us to talk about my last heat.
"So Yuuri, can you please tell me the date of your last heat?"
I stopped to think for a moment. "Um, I think it was sometime around mid-November? Let me check on my phone, please. "
I pulled out my phone and looked for the app that I used to help me keep track of my heats. I had always been a little irregular. A little stress could put me off easily, so I tried my best to keep them in check. With all that had happened, I wasn’t surprised I had skipped a cycle.
"Ah, I was from October 29th to the 2nd of November."
The beta woman frowned a little. "Did you share it with your partner?"
Obviously, she knew about him. She had been the one to prescribe me the pill a few years ago before I had to stop it because it didn’t mix up well with my anxiety meds.
"Yes, I did." I sighed, a little uncomfortable the memories that question brought up. "Well, actually he's now my ex-partner. We broke up during the holidays. It’s been… not that easy. "
"Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, darling. How are you feeling about it? " Her eyes had softened a little and she stopped scribbling her notes to look warmly at me.
"Yeah, well, it couldn’t really be helped. Guess I kind of saw it coming… " I tried to smile, but it was sad and awkward." I think that maybe the break up is what's messing me up. "
She smiled sympathetically, understanding of my situation.
"I’m sorry for insisting in this situation, but if you don't mind me asking Yuuri, did you use any kind of protection during your heat?"
"Yes we did, we used condoms since the pill doesn't work with my medication as you know." I responded with embarrassment, not completely sure of why she kept asking those questions and afraid of what they may mean.
She hummed pensively before adding something more to her notes. After a moment, she sent me to a nurse that took some urine and blood samples. The nurse sent me back to the waiting room again and I was back to thinking of what would be of me once the semester would start again.
My hands were clasped together on my lap to prevent my fingers from fidgeting. I felt like a ticking bomb, not sure how I should react to him when I would see him again. Should I give him space or try to push for a conversation? How would he react? Would he be polite or vindictive? Indifferent? How were we going to separate our one bedroom apartment? Should I keep the room and leave him the living room? Or should I give him the room? Suddenly, just the idea of being somewhat naked in front of him filled me with insecurity and fear. And what if I had a panic attack? Would he still be understanding if not caring? And what about our cycles?
I blinked away the panicked tears and stared at the doctor in front of me. She had her hand on my shoulder and looked serious but gentle.
"Deep breaths, dear. Now, come with me. " She helped me stand and guided us back to her office. I hadn’t realised so much time had passed. She made me sit in a chair before giving my a glass of water. She leaned against her desk and watched me sip tentatively some water. Once I had calmed down, she sat beside me and looked at me empathetically.
"Yuuri, I added some tests to our normal check up after hearing you talk about your increasing fatigue and nausea. It could have been the stress like you said, but I preferred to make sure it was before giving you your usual prescription. "
She paused and I felt dread slowly inch towards my heart. I tried to clear my throat, but could barely raps my doubts. "So, you’re saying that… I..? "
"The test came out positive, you’re pregnant. You’re most likely in your seventh week. "
The world seemed to stop at that. I put the glass on the desk, afraid to drop it with my shaky fingers. I looked at my abdomen, not sure of what to think. A baby? Pregnant? Some tiny, little part of me wanted to bask into the wonder of having a little one inside of me, but it was shut off by my anxiety.
A baby, seriously? I was nothing but a poor student who had been just recently dumped by his boyfriend who taught that I wasn’t enough. I was nowhere near done with my studies and even if I had, it wasn’t something that could allow me to raise a child. What if I told him about our baby? Ah, he would surely look down on me and tell me that I should had been more careful during my heat. But maybe he would be supportive? Yeah sure, as if he would give up partying with Lauren and Christophe to babysit. He hadn’t even stayed after I had badly hurt my knee during a competition. And what would okaa-san and oto-san say? They just left for Japan, thinking they could trust me to not mess up my last years of university. How disappointed would they be? And Minako and Lilia? They spent so much time training me for the next ballet season all for nothing. What would I do? I was only twenty for god’s sake! I had nothing to give to a child!
".. breath! Yuuri, listen to me, child. You have to breathe. Yes, just like that. In. One two. Out. One two. In. Just like that, you’re doing great. "
I let the gentle but commanding voice of my doctor guide me, her warm hand rubbing circles on my back. Once I could breath again, I started sobbing softly.
"I-I can’t… some… someone like me… " I choked on a sob, snot mixing with my tears. The salty drop falling on my glasses, blurring my sight even more and making me feel miserable.
The beta woman kept rubbing circles on my back, speaking slowly and calmly. She told me to take time to think about what I wanted to do. To consider all options before making a choice so I wouldn’t regret anything. That no matter what my decision was, there would be support. To tell someone close and to not keep my emotions bottled up, that my pregnancy may have not been planned, but it wasn’t a condemning thing.
I left her office after what seemed like an eternity. She had given me some informative pamphlets about the various options I had. I quickly looked at some of them before hiding them in my bag. Adoption, foster families, single parents help services, abortion…
I don’t know how I managed to get back home, but once in the middle of the living room, the weight of it suddenly crushed me, making me fall to my knees. I was pregnant. There, just under my hand, in the deeps of my being, was a tiny, little being. A tiny, little star was growing inside of me, half mine and half his. Half his. Fat tears silently rolled down on my cheeks as I looked at our empty apartment.
We had talked a few times about having kids. Later. After graduating, after our marriage, after having bought our home. An ‘after’ that would never be. I didn’t even know how our cohabitation would be. He hadn’t contacted me since that night and he hadn’t replied to my single message asking if we could talk once he would be back about our living situation. How was I going to tell him?
Tired, I dragged my self to our room and flopped down in what was supposed to become our bed. I had made a big nest with a lot of fluffy pillows and soft and colorful sheets. I hadn’t had the courage to tear it apart, but also couldn’t sleep in it either. I had been sleeping on a futon in the living room. But right at that moment, I wanted to be in my nest and hug his pillow that still faintly smelled like my alph- like him. I hid my tears in his pillow, his scent calming me but at the same time making me feel incredibly sad. I hoped that our pup wouldn’t inherit my weak heart, but instead the strong personality of his father. I closed my eyes and fell asleep thinking of a beautiful baby with big teal eyes and a heart-shaped smile.
When I woke up the next morning, it was with a clearer mind and a decision in my heart. I looked over the documents the doctor had given me while eating my breakfast. I took some notes, calm and decided, my left had softly caressing my stomach. I would tell him, because he deserved to know, but I wouldn’t force him to stay or contribute in my child’s life. I would stay in Detroit until the end of the semester and then I would fly to Japan. I didn’t want to be a weight to my family, but it would be the best thing for my baby. I would need all the help my family could offer. With their help, I would take a year’s leave from university to take care of my little star, but I would come back to finish my degree. After that, I could open a dance school with Minako-sensei and live happily with my pup.
I knew I wasn’t including him in my plans, but I couldn’t assume that he would like to be part of it. He would be back the next day, I would tell him then about my pregnancy no matter how stressful it would be.
That being settled, I started to prepare for his return and without noticing the day came and went and I found myself a complete ball of nerves when he pushed open the door. I stood in the middle of our living room, nervously grabbing the hem of my pull, a knot of emotion blocking my throat as waves of his cool, winter-like scent reached my nose.
He froze on the entry way for a moment, surprised for a second before scrunching up his nose. He looked down and took off his boots. He was taking off his coat when I finally moved, offering to take his coat. He took a step back and just glared my way. "Don’t bother." He mumbled before walking towards our room with his luggage, careful not to touch me. My hand stood in the air for a moment before I dropped it. Something was burning in my chest; it felt like spilled acid. "Hey."
I slowly turned around, trying to smile, just to see him walking out of the bedroom with an armful of colorful sheets. "Take these. I don’t want that kind of thing on my bed. " He didn’t give me the chance to take them from him, he just dropped the pile on the floor before walking off again.
The slamming of the door didn’t even make me flinch. Or maybe it did. I couldn’t tell, I was shaking so much, train to fight back my sobs. So that’s how it would be? I slowly picked up the remaining of my nest and hugged it, trying to stop my tears and to keep my scent in check. I bit my lip and went back to the living room. I sat on the couch and surrounded myself with the soft materials. So that’s how it’s going to be. No way I could tell him about my pregnancy, he wouldn’t take it well and I wouldn’t be able to take another hit to my already broken heart. So I lied down on the couch under all my sheets and closed my eyes, telling myself to be strong for the sake of my baby. I had to be for the next months.
"Be strong, Yuuri…" I whispered to myself before falling asleep, my lashes damp and my heart a raw, bleeding wound.