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Rosebud

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            My fingers tightly gripped the coffee mug in my hands. I could see my knuckles turning white. There was no reason at all to be nervous—Kazuto and I had been in a relationship well before I started my transition; we’d discussed so many, many awkward things. We were both full grown adults, with jobs, a home, bills. Our intimacy went well beyond cuddles and kisses. Honestly, what hadn’t we tried? We knew each other in and out, and yet, here I was.

            Hesitating.

            Kazuto, oblivious to my inner conflict, opened up the fridge, selected a plastic container of food, and tossed it onto the counter. Normally, I’d make a comment about him possibly making a mess, but my eyes locked in on the contents of the container. My stomach dropped. If he opened that, it was all over.

            “I think I’m going to go lay down,” I said.

            He gave me a funny look, snatched up the container, and ripped the top off.

            “Oh, right, plate,” he muttered.

            It was too late. The intense scent of fish hit my nostrils. My reaction was too quick for him to properly register what happened. With one hand, I clutched my stomach, and with the other, I covered my mouth. I bolted to the bathroom to vomit.

            “E-Eugeo?”

            I couldn’t answer him. Frankly, I didn’t want to. It was embarrassing. I’d discovered the aversion to the fish smell on Wednesday; it was Saturday. One of my coworkers had brought in fish for lunch and I’d dashed to the bathroom to empty my stomach. Someone noticed and made a quip that told me this wasn’t just a random bug.

            Wiping my mouth off, I glanced over at the doorway to see Kazuto frowning at me. He was, to my dismay, holding the fish, now stuck between two pieces of bread, and was eating it as he frowned at me.

            “Would you please keep that away?” I begged.

            He glanced at his fish sandwich and blinked.

            “What, this?” he asked.

            I nodded.

            “The smell is just awful,” I complained.

            His funny look got even funnier.

            “But…you ate this fish Monday night,” he said. “What’s wrong with it today? It’s not expired. It didn’t go bad. Are you sick?”

            Groaning, I placed my head in my hands and leaned back over the toilet bowl. This was such a pointless conversation. I had to tell him. But I hadn’t wanted to tell him leaning over the toilet puking because he didn’t get the picture of why his fish sandwich smelled so awful.

            Truthfully, none of this went as planned.

 

Half a year prior…

            “That’s a big decision, Mister Kirigaya,” the doctor said. “And frankly, I’m worried that your dysphoria will become a big problem again. But you’re telling me you’re fairly certain you want to pause HRT and discuss having a baby naturally with your husband. Right?”

            I nodded.

            “Well, the topic of becoming parents has come up recently, so if possible, I’d like to let him know I’d be willing to do it naturally,” I said. “After all, he’s been so supportive of me as a trans man that I’ll be able to handle the dysphoria with him at my side.”

            The doctor smiled.

            “The way you talk about your husband, it makes me very happy for you,” she said.

            I returned her smile.

            “Kazuto’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” I said. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without him.”

            She nodded, likely remembering all too well that it was Kazuto who came with me to open the discussion to start my medical transition so long ago. He encouraged me and supported me through it all. My doctor had been so excited to hear that we’d gotten married, and the look on her face now told me she was glad to watch us try to take this next step in our lives.

            “Alright,” she said. “It might take a couple of cycles for you to be at the right place to try. And if you change your mind, I won’t hesitate to restart your HRT. Whatever you decide, I hope that you’re happy and healthy.”

            I went home that day, trying to think of a way to start that conversation with Kazuto. But something came up. Over. And over. And over again.

 

Two weeks prior…

            Thinking back, all I could do was chide myself on not telling him. It should have been obvious. It’s not like I could just magically hide feminine care products. He was just that oblivious to them being there, I suppose. Why had it been so hard to open the conversation about stopping my HRT with him?

            Every time I’d made an attempt, we’d somehow derail and discuss something else. I think my best effort had been asking him what he thought about having kids. That somehow took a rabbit trail off towards fiddling with Yui’s programing.

            “Earth to Eugeo.”

            I almost fell out of my chair. Alice was tapping a pen on my nose. When did she get there?

            “You okay? You seem off today,” she said. “Did you get bad news at your doctor’s appointment?”

            Frowning, I thought about whether or not I should share anything with her. She was my best friend from childhood, but was this something to discuss with her before Kazuto? Alice might have some advice, though. I stood up, glanced around the office, noticed several people in the vicinity, and then decided we’d have to go elsewhere.

            “We should talk,” I said.

            I grasped her wrist and pulled her all the way out of the building and across the street so that we could lock ourselves in a private café booth. Alice was clearly bewildered by her sudden removal from the office, but even more so, she seemed concerned. We both quickly ordered something from the menu.

            “What is so sensitive that you needed to isolate us?” Alice asked.

            Taking a deep breath, I stared down at my lap and told myself I had to just come out with it. I couldn’t bring myself to look at her. Not when I’d been too afraid to tell Kazuto anything. I clasped my fingers together.

            “Alice…”

            “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Your voice just got quieter.”

            I covered my face with my hands.

            “…I’m pregnant.”

            Silence.

            It was that uncomfortable sort of silence where you can’t even hear the other person breathing. I could only hear myself. Alice didn’t know I’d stopped HRT anymore than Kazuto did. To her, that must have sounded crazy. I’d never even openly expressed it as a possibility or desire. I didn’t want to look at her. I knew that I had to. I lifted my head and moved my fingers just enough to peer through them at her.

            Alice looked as if she’d just been slapped. The shock was so severe on her face I thought I might have to slap her to snap her out of it. A waitress opened the booth, set down our orders, and left after I gave her a mumbled thanks. Alice couldn’t even get out that. I stood up, leaned over the table, and reached over to tap her shoulder.

            “Hey, don’t zone out on me!” I pleaded.

            “You’re what?” she finally said.

            Sighing, I slipped back into my seat and took a sip of my drink.

            “I’m sorry, are you messing with me?” Alice asked. “Because you’ve been on HRT for, like, seven years. You shouldn’t be able to just conceive a baby. Your cycle stopped, didn’t it?”

            I nodded.

            “Until I stopped the HRT, yes,” I said.

            She dropped her spoon.

            “That’s not the point,” I said.

            “I think it certainly is a point, Eugeo, why did you stop—?”

            “My point is that Kazuto doesn’t know I stopped and I was going to tell him,” I said. “But I kept not telling him and putting it off. I don’t even know why, it just didn’t feel important at the time. I was supposed to tell him that I wanted to stop to try for a baby, but then I stopped and didn’t say anything and didn’t think anything of it until I started getting sick—”

            “Whoa, whoa, you’re clearly stressed out,” Alice said. “Which…I guess I get that, but what’s so hard about telling Kazuto? Do you think he’s going to be mad?”

            “Well…”

            What did I think Kazuto’s reaction would be? This wasn’t just something small, after all. This was something that should have been discussed. And I’d kept putting it off, not even considering the fact that without planning I could still get pregnant.

            “Either way, you’re going to have to tell him,” Alice said. “Unless you’re not wanting this and are planning an abortion.”

            I instinctively placed my hands over my belly and shook my head.

            “No!” I said. “I wanted…I wanted this. I just don’t know…”

            “If Kazuto does,” she finished for me.

            I sighed, leaned back into the chair, and slipped the straw of my drink into my mouth.

            “Three weeks,” Alice said.

            “Hm?”

            “I’m giving you a timer,” she said. “You tell Kazuto within the next three weeks, or I’m telling the entire friend group in a group text.”

            I practically threw myself forward.

            “D-don’t do that!” I exclaimed.

            “Oh, I will,” she said. “Because you have to tell him. Otherwise what are you going to do when it starts becoming obvious? Just pretend like nothing’s different? He’s going to notice. You have to tell him before he notices. Within three weeks. Otherwise, everyone will know. Asuna. Shino. Keiko. Rika. Agil. Suguha. Tiese. Ronye. Klein.

            “Please, please, do not include Klein if you have to!” I said. “His response will be the loudest because I know you’re going to send it with me in the message.”

            She smirked at me triumphantly.

            “Then you’d better tell your husband he’s a father,” she said.

            I groaned.

            “Fine.”

 

Present day…

            In the end, I had to force Kazuto to eat his fish in the living area while I made my own lunch. Before I finished up, the doorbell rang. I told Kazuto he’d better not move if he still had fish and ran to get the door. I brushed some crumbs off of my clothing. When I opened up the door, Asuna was smiling up at me.

            “I brought over my tablet!” she said. “Kazuto said he’d look at it and see what was wrong with it. Where is he?”

            I opened my mouth to answer, but he appeared behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist and propping his head on my shoulder. Normally, I’d have no issue at all with this sort of behavior, but his breath still smelled like the fish. I covered my mouth and nose and tried not to make a face in front of Asuna.

            “I got banished to the couch for eating fish,” he said dramatically. “I can get that fixed for you by tomorrow, how’s that sound?”

            “Is Eugeo okay?” she asked.

            Kazuto looked at me and instantly covered his mouth.

            “If ih boferin you dat baf?”

            Both Asuna and I gave him a look. He removed his hand.

            “The smell of the fish,” he said. “Is it really bothering that bad that you can smell it on my breath?”

            I nodded. He gently patted my belly, giving me an apologetic look.

            “If you’re sick you should go lie down,” he suggested. “I’ll make sure to brush my teeth before I come snuggle.”

            “Hey! Fix my tablet!” Asuna complained.

            I slipped out of his arms and headed upstairs to go lay down.

            “Sorry, cuddling my husband takes priority,” he was saying. “But, I will…”

            I didn’t hear the rest of that. I closed the bedroom door, changed into a tank top and some underwear, and curled up under the covers. I grabbed his pillow instead of mine. Unlike the current Kazuto, his pillow smelled like his hair instead of fish. I clutched it tightly and buried my face in it. As I held onto his pillow, I managed to doze off.

            Some time later, I woke up to pressure against my back. Kazuto had slipped in at some point and was curled around me. His arm was tucked beneath mine and pressed against my chest. He smelled more like himself than fish now, to my pleasure. I rolled over and kissed his lips. He opened his eyes and smiled at me.

            “Feeling better?” he asked.

            Those alluring, dark eyes smiled just as much as his lips. I reached up and pressed my palm to his cheek. I pushed my lips into his again. My leg wrapped around his. He laughed a little. I kissed him deeper.

            I had to tell him.

            “I’ll take that as a yes,” he said.

            Opening my eyes, I brushed some of his hair out of his face.

            “I need to tell you something important,” I said.

            He raised his eyebrows.

            “Oh?”

            I nodded. It was now or suffer the consequences of not telling him.

            “Six months ago, I stopped my HRT.”

            Kazuto immediately sat upright. I picked myself up and frowned at him. He wasn’t even looking at me. He was staring at some point on the wall. I waved my hand in front of his face. Blinking, he turned his attention back to me.

            “Why did you do that?” he asked. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

            I drew in a deep breath.

            “Remember when we discussed that we maybe wanted kids?” I asked.

            I couldn’t tell if he wanted to laugh or cry.

            “Eugeo, I didn’t mean you had to stop your HRT for that!” he said. “We could have talked about it. I wouldn’t make you stop your treatments just to have a kid naturally. I mean, do you even want to have a kid naturally? I’m fine with adopting, I don’t want to force you.”

            He grasped my right hand.

            “Trust me, I’d never force you to carry a baby for me. I’m honored that you’d skip half a year of your treatments just to start a family with me. You don’t know how much that means, but, Eugeo, I don’t want you to be uncomfortable. Wouldn’t that mess with your dysphoria?”

            My stomach felt as if it had butterflies in it.

            “Kazuto, that’s not everything,” I said.

            He shook his head.

            “Look, don’t worry about trying. If you think we’re ready, we can discuss adoption. You don’t need to forgo your treatments if you don’t want to.”

            “Kazuto.”

            “I mean, if you do want to try naturally, I’m okay with that, too, I just want to know what you’re comfortable with, that’s all.”

            “Kazuto.

            “It’s okay, Eugeo. We have time to talk it out.”

            I shook my head.

            “Are you listening?”

            “Yes, I’m listening.”

            Reaching over, I placed a hand on his shoulder. Now that I’d gotten his attention, I finally had space to tell him. He wasn’t still talking. He waited patiently for me to speak. I drew in a deep breath. Then I exhaled.

            “Kazuto, I’m pregnant.”

            His eyes got so wide I thought they might fall out. I could see the pieces slowly fitting together. He held up one finger, then dropped his hand down to the bed. His eyes dropped, staring at my belly. There was obviously nothing to see. But he was now aware of something existing there that he hadn’t known about before.

            “The fish…” he muttered.

            I laughed a little.

            “Yes, the fish,” I said.

            I pressed a hand to my belly.

            “I’m sorry I didn’t say anything before,” I said. “I didn’t know what you’d say. I thought you might be mad about the HRT…”

            Kazuto grasped me by the shoulders. I swallowed. His face was unreadable. I opened my mouth to apologize again, but he gently pulled me into a snug embrace. He clutched my shirt in his hands. I thought I could hear him sniffling.

            “A-are you crying?” I stammered.

            “We’re really gonna be dads?” he asked.

            His voice sounded even more of a mess than I’d presumed from the sniffling. It cracked and gave away that he was getting emotional. I couldn’t help but start to tear up, too. I returned his embrace by squeezing him tightly. I gave him a nod.

            “Yeah. We’re gonna be dads.”

            “When?!”

            This time, I really did laugh. He sounded so eager. I ruffled his hair.

            “Close to your birthday,” I said. “Happy early birthday, papa.”

            As we sat there clinging to one another, neither of us gave much thought to how we’d tackle this new stage in our life. But one thing was as clear as day to me—no matter what I was about to go through, Kazuto would be right there, holding my hand and supporting me.