Genre: Romance, m-preg, au
Disclaimer: I do not own Arashi, only these words.
Summary: Jun is given in an arranged marriage to Lord Sakurai Sho. Against the odds, love blossoms.
A/N: I never meant for this to happen but this has now turned into my first chaptered fic. I have no idea where this is going or where it will end but you are welcome to come along for the ride.
Previously: Ch 1, Ch 2, Ch 3, Ch 4, Ch 5, Ch 6, Ch 7, Ch 8
"Toma, have you taken leave of your senses? Unhand Jun at once," Masaki called fiercely as he strode across the room.
Toma looked at Masaki pleadingly, "Please help me Masaki. He swooned into my arms and I do not know what to do."
Jun could feel Masaki taking hold of him, pulling him away from Toma, who reluctantly released him from his grasp. Once he was resting upon the sofa things began to come back into focus and his vision gradually cleared. It still seemed that people were talking under water as he vaguely heard Masaki despatch a servant to fetch Nino and a certain medicine. Jun felt someone rubbing his wrists, as if to return him to full awareness. With a jolt, he realized that it was Toma who was touching him in such a fashion.
Snatching his hands away, Jun abruptly sat up, causing a fresh wave of dizziness to engulf him. Fighting down an overwhelming wave of nausea, he remembered Toma's words regarding Sho.
"Sho! My beloved is wounded? Please tell me that I misheard your words," Jun cried towards Toma.
Masaki looked to Toma for an explanation.
"Sho has indeed been wounded, but he was immediately treated by the Kings own Healers and he is even now making his way here to recuperate. I am most sorry that I did not elaborate further when I informed you earlier. I did not mean to cause such distress." Toma replied to Jun.
"And you told this to Jun whilst he was alone and unsupported? Did you not think of the effect you would have upon him, and his unborn child? How could you be so irresponsible?" Masaki replied, casting Toma a flint-eyed glare.
Nino, who had entered the room just in time to overhear their words, pushed angrily past Toma, almost knocking him from his feet. He knelt down in front of Jun, whose face was still as white as linen and offered him a glass of dark green coloured medicine. "Drink this, it will steady you."
"No, I refuse to take it because it will make me go to sleep. I must know the details of my husband's injuries first. He needs me," Jun said desperately, swaying in his seat, as he fought down his nausea.
Nino took Jun's hand and checked his pulse. As he felt the irregular, too fast, fluttering under his fingertips he looked imploringly at Masaki, silently asking for his help.
Masaki immediately stepped in, "Toma, please tell us more exactly how Sho fares. Perhaps once Jun's mind is at ease he will permit us to treat him."
Toma cleared his throat nervously; the last thing he had wanted was to cause such worry to Jun. He would never forgive himself for his stupidity. "Sho suffered a sword slash across his left shoulder and arm. He lost a fair amount of blood, but the Healers have stitched the wounds. It was recommended that he rest and regain his strength, but he insisted upon returning here immediately. He did not wish to cause Jun any unnecessary distress by arriving suddenly in such a state, so he sent me on ahead to deliver the news in a calming way. I have obviously failed to do that. Please forgive me for my thoughtlessness, I am an insensitive oaf."
Nino looked very much as if he was about to open his mouth and agree with Toma's words, but Jun diplomatically cut him off. "It was not your fault. It was I who insisted that you tell me your news immediately and not wait for Masaki to join us. I am just grateful that my husband is on his way home to us."
Jun looked to Masaki, "Might I ask you a great favour? Would you be willing to ride and meet my husband along the road? My mind would be more at ease if I knew that you were attending to him as soon as possible."
"Of course, I was just about to suggest it myself," Masaki agreed.
"Then I shall go with you," Nino added firmly. "You will be in need of an assistant."
"Nino, I have told you before, that I will not permit you to ride with me whilst you are in this condition,” Masaki argued.
"Who says that I need your permission? We are not yet wed; therefore you have no say in what I may or may not do." Nino replied defiantly.
Toma was trying to shrink into thin air as the couple argued around him; they seemed to have forgotten he was even present.
As Nino continued to berate him, Masaki cast a pleading glance in Jun's direction. Jun was the only person who could reason with Nino when he became like this.
Jun nodded slightly in response before leaning backwards into the chair and declaring, “Please stop arguing, you are making me even dizzier."
Nino immediately forgot his argument with his lover and went into protective mode. "Here, drink this medicine, and don't bother to attempt to argue. It seems that I must stay here after all, since you cannot be trusted to look after yourself."
Jun pushed Nino’s hand away as he said, “Please, Sir Toma, set my mind properly at rest as to the welfare of my husband, so that I can allow Nino to have his way. Are you quite sure that he is not seriously injured?”
“When I left him he was in good spirits, and eager to see you,” Toma assured Jun. “His only worry was that you might be cross with him for worrying you in such a fashion.”
“I will not be satisfied until I may hold him in my arms, but I will agree to take your medicine, Masaki. I must confess that I am still feeling badly shaken,” Jun replied, as he finally swallowed the medicine that Nino handed him with a grimace at its lingering bitter taste.
“Nino shall sit with you until you sleep, and he shall be there when you wake. I promise that you will feel much better once the medicine takes effect,” Masaki said gently. “I will make immediate preparations for departure. If Toma agrees, we shall leave this afternoon, as soon as I have gathered the necessary equipment and supplies. We shall most likely be gone before you wake, but rest assured I shall bring Sho back to you as soon as I may.”
“You have my promise also,” Toma added, bowing respectfully towards Jun.
“Thank you both for your kindness,” Jun replied softly, already feeling the medicine taking hold of him; thankfully beginning to lessen his nausea and dizziness and slow his racing heart.
Nino helped him to stand, and placing his arm around Jun’s waist, he led him slowly out of the room. As he did so Nino looked back over his shoulder towards his lover, catching Masaki’s gesture that he would come and speak with him before his departure.
Nino helped Jun out of his clothes, and into a soft nightshirt, before tucking him under the covers. He went to draw the curtains, since Jun's room was always filled with light as long as the sun was up, but Jun mumbled, "Please leave them open, it will make it easier to calm myself if I can see the sky."
"You should sleep," Nino replied.
"I slept after lunch, before I was called to speak with Toma and hear the news of Sho," Jun replied, as he squeezed his eyes shut momentarily, as if trying not to cry.
"It does not make you weak if you shed tears for your husband."
"I cannot. I promised myself that I would not weep whilst Sho is absent," Jun said stubbornly, his eyes eventually fluttering closed as he drifted towards sleep.
Nino helped Jun to find a comfortable position, propping his belly with soft pillows as he curled upon his side.
Murmuring softly, Nino stroked Jun's hair until he fell asleep. Nino then checked his pulse once again, pleased that it was much calmer and more regular than it had been downstairs.
Looking at Jun's rounded belly underneath the covers, Nino pressed a hand to his own. Although he was not quite four months, his own belly was already quite pronounced, much more so than Jun's had been at this stage of his pregnancy.
There was a quiet knock at the door, and Nino went to speak to Masaki and to say their goodbyes.
Nino took Masaki by the hand and led him to his room, so their voices would not disturb Jun, and they would have some privacy for their goodbyes.
“Jun is much calmer now,” Nino said, as he wrapped himself around Masaki’s body. “His heart was beating so fast I feared it would jump from his chest.”
“Toma should have shown more sense than he did. He claims that he was unable to answer truthfully when Jun asked him why he was here.”
“I do not trust that man,” Nino said. “He looked at Jun with a covetous eye.”
“Nino, I think that you cannot possibly know that. Why would a happily married man with a wife of his own at home suddenly show interest in a male, and a pregnant one at that? I think you are projecting your feelings of anger at the situation and fears for Jun onto Toma and making him the villain of the piece, with no justification.”
Nino knew what he’d seen writ clearly upon Toma’s face. Behind the concern for Jun’s health had been a more than a hint of desire. As he’d approached the room he had observed Toma touching Jun, under the guise of helping, before Jun had come to his senses and snatched his hands away. He decided to say no more upon the subject, but resolved to keep a close watch over Toma whenever possible upon his return to the Manor.
“Please take care whilst I am away, and make sure that you do not overtax yourself. Please make sure that Jun rests also,” Masaki said as he breathed in the fresh fragrance of Nino’s hair whilst hugging him tightly.
“How could I possibly not; since you will not permit me to travel with you,” Nino huffed. Secretly he was happy that Masaki had put a stop to his plan to ride with him. The prospect of sitting upon a horse for long hours whilst pregnant held little appeal, especially since he had no skills in that direction whatsoever. It was most uncomfortable and also embarrassing to sit in front of or behind Masaki like a sack of potatoes, almost falling from his perch whenever the horse changed either gait or direction.
“My tiger, you are so cute when you are offended,” Masaki said with a laugh, as he released Nino’s waist and tilted his chin up to steal a kiss.
Nino tried to maintain his aura of being offended, but it was impossible when Masaki was looking at him with such warm and loving eyes. With a sigh, Nino melted into Masaki’s arms once again as their lips met in a kiss that conveyed all of their feelings of love and commitment.
“Once Sho is recovered it will be time for our wedding,” Masaki said. “Perhaps you may distract Jun for a while with arrangements, until we return with Sho, since nothing has yet been organised.”
“That is because there is nothing to organise,” Nino replied. “We go to the church, make our vows, come home to the cottage, and then you make love to me all night. What could possibly be simpler?”
“I do not think that you will have much success in persuading Jun of that. He will wish to make the day a special one, and will not let either of us off so lightly.”
“Mayhap we could sneak away and elope?”
“And Jun would never forgive either of us if we did.”
Nino walked his lover to the top of the stairs snatching kisses with every step. With one final hug and a kiss pressed to Nino’s belly Masaki ran lightly down the stairs to join Toma for the start of their journey to return Sho to his home.
Nino stood at the window of Jun’s bedroom which offered a perfect view of the long drive that led to the front of the house. Masaki and Toma had almost disappeared from view, when Jun began to whimper in his sleep.
Jun was thrashing around on the bed, his arms and legs moving convulsively as he cried Sho’s name repeatedly. His breathing was rapid and unsteady as beads of sweat trickled down his neck.
“Jun, Jun, please wake up,” Nino said as he shook his friend, trying to release him from the grip of his nightmares, but the medicine still in Jun’s system made it almost impossible to rouse him and the whimpers soon changed to screams.
Nino felt as if his brain was frozen as he tried to think of a way to break the spell and wake him. He espied the jug of water that sat beside the bed and apologised out loud as he splashed a handful of water across Jun’s face. The screams stopped, but Jun continued to move restlessly and did not wake. As a last resort Nino managed to take hold of Jun’s thrashing arm and as he held it steady, he pinched the skin on the back of his hand as hard as he could.
Jun’s eyes popped open and he looked around him, still disorientated, and obviously not fully awake.
“Jun, look at me. You are safe and I am here with you,” Nino said as he sat beside Jun who immediately threw himself into his arms.
Jun’s whole body was shaking badly as he said wildly, “Blood, so much blood, and flames. A burning heat engulfing everything, and Sho was caught in the middle with no escape.”
“It was just a dream,” Nino said as he rubbed Jun’s back and rocked him as if he was a small child.
“It felt too real to be a dream. I could sense Sho’s pain. He was trying to ask for help but I could not reach him through the flames.”
“But Jun, Toma said that Sho was not badly injured.”
“I do not care what he said. I know that Sho is in trouble and there is nothing I can do to help him,” Jun said as he pulled away from Nino and buried his face in his hands.
“It is the medication that has caused you to feel this way. Masaki has been teaching me that some people react badly to certain distillations, and I believe this to be the cause of your nightmare.”
Jun looked at Nino as if considering his words, “Really? So I may just be imagining things?”
“You have been greatly stressed so perhaps this is your mind’s way of releasing your suppressed fears,” Nino said, as he once again took Jun’s hand into his own.
“Please promise to never give me that particular medicine again,” Jun said in a steadier voice.
“Of course I shall not. Perhaps instead I should save it for Masaki when he is being particularly bothersome,” Nino replied, trying to lighten the atmosphere.
Jun managed to summon a faint smile in response, and Nino felt that he could finally allow himself to relax.
“Come, I shall run you a warm bath, to clean the sweat from your body and relax your mind,” Nino said as he helped Jun out of his sweat soaked nightshirt and wrapped him in the silken robe that Sho liked so much.
Jun was jittery for the rest of the day, virtually jumping at shadows. He sat in the comfortable chair by the window, wearing a fresh set of nightclothes and clutching his robe tightly around his midriff, looking down the drive as if wishing for Sho to appear at any moment.
At dinner time Nino carried up a tray and placed it in front of Jun. Jun merely stared blankly at the food as if confused as to what he should do with it.
Seeing Jun making no attempt to feed himself, Nino cut the meat into tiny pieces and fed them to him as if he was a baby bird. Jun automatically opened and closed his mouth at the appropriate times, even whilst seeming to not notice what or even if he was eating.
Nino would have liked to give Jun some further medicine to make him hopefully sleep peacefully, but he knew that after his earlier experience Jun was unlikely to agree to partake of it. So when it was time for Jun to go to sleep, Nino instead shepherded him over to the bed, hoping that Jun would be able to settle, despite his fears. It had been freshly made up with crisp lavender scented linens whilst Jun bathed.
Jun seemed reluctant to return to his bed, perhaps reliving the horror of his dream in his head once again.
Nino was not sure what to do. He had no way of making Jun obey his wishes if he did not wish to, but he did not need to fear as Jun once again took hold of his hand and asked shyly, "Please stay. I will feel more able to sleep if you remain here with me."
Nino quickly agreed and changed into some of Jun's own sleepwear before slipping into bed beside him.
Nino's steady, quiet, breathing encouraged Jun to calm himself.
They were both on the verge of sleep when Nino chuckled quietly.
"What is so amusing?" Jun mumbled sleepily, as he turned towards Nino, snuggling against his back.
"I just had the thought that if we were to share a bed in a couple of months’ time we would need a much larger bed," Nino laughed. "Ow!" he added as Jun's baby kicked hard, hitting him right in the spine.
"That is what you get for implying that I am fat. My son immediately leapt to my defence," Jun replied, sounding happier than he had for many hours.
"I am used to it; nobody appreciates my humour," Nino sighed.
Jun made mockingly soothing noises and giggled into the back of Nino's neck.
Soon they both slumbered, and Jun was not plagued by any further nightmares. Nino's reassuring presence had apparently successfully driven away Jun's sense of foreboding.
Masaki and Toma rode with all haste towards their reunion with Sho. The need to arrive in the shortest time possible made them continue until it was too dark to see the way. Reluctantly Masaki stopped at a coaching inn for the evening.
Stiff from the hard ride, they hastily washed before returning to the cosy dining room for a quick dinner; they planned to be on the road once again at first light.
"I do hope that I have not caused Jun any permanent damage with my thoughtlessness," Toma said as he poured Masaki a glass of wine.
"There was never going to be an ideal way to inform him of Sho's injury. He would have taken it badly even if Nino and I had been there."
"Does he care for his husband so very deeply? I thought their marriage was one of political convenience, arranged by King Ohno, and very far from a love match."
Masaki looked at Toma closely, remembering Nino's words earlier regarding his possible feelings toward Jun. "Perhaps not a love match at the beginning, but since then they have formed an unshakable bond, and love each other deeply."
"If that be true then I envy them. My wife and I were wed without being introduced beforehand and even after five years we barely know each other, and we certainly do not share love between us." Toma said sadly. "You do not resent Sho finding such happiness with another after all of the years that you shared a bed with him?"
"Sir, I do not wish to follow this line of conversation any further. My private life is not for you to speculate on, but I will tell you that I love Nino, and I am overjoyed to have found my soul mate at last."
"Jun is very young to already know his mind so clearly, and know that what he has experienced with Sho so far is love."
"Toma, I do not wish to appear rude, but you are speculating wildly upon a subject you have absolutely no knowledge of. I suggest we retire to bed before we fall out with each other."
"I apologize if I have offended. We are both tired, and not in the best of humours. I am sure that in the morning we shall return to being friends."
They parted at the top of the stairs and retired to their separate rooms.
Even though Masaki was exhausted after the dramas of the day, he still took an age to fall asleep. He once again wondered if Nino had been correct when he suspected Toma of having inappropriate feelings toward Jun, but decided that it was just his imagination being fuelled by his feelings of tiredness.
The next morning they set off at dawn after a mostly silent breakfast. There was still a lingering uncomfortable atmosphere between them.
"Masaki, please accept my apologies for yesterday. I do not know what possessed me to be so disrespectful of not only Sho and Jun's relationship, but yours as well," Toma said, when they had been riding in silence for at least an hour.
"Thank you, Toma. I also apologize for my overreaction. Jun is precious to us all, not just Sho, and my concerns for him soured my mood."
They shared a smile, and spurred on towards their goal with much lighter hearts.
But as he rode, Toma could not help remembering his first sight of Jun and the feelings his close proximity to the beautiful young man had stirred in his breast. He could still recall the warmth of Jun's body as he had held him tightly to his own, and smooth softness of his delicate wrists as he had rubbed them between his hands.
Whilst he slumbered in his uncomfortable bed at the inn, he had dreamt of Jun and imagined the feeling of his muscular young body writhing in ecstasy beneath his own as he filled him with his hard cock over and over again.
When he awoke his member was erect and painfully hard and he had been forced to find relief with his own hand. He was more than a little ashamed that he had cried Jun's name as he found his release.
Nino was woken early by in the morning by Jun having another bad dream, as a flailing elbow struck him hard in the ribs.
Jun once again repeatedly cried Sho's name, as Nino struggled to release him from his terrors.
To Nino's despair, the only way he could rouse Jun was to slap him on the cheek. He did it as lightly as he could, but still left a stinging red handprint on Jun's delicate pale skin.
Jun's first reaction upon waking was one of anger, "Why did you wake me?" he asked Nino with a glare.
"You were having another nightmare. I could not stand by and watch you suffering."
"Sho was once again surrounded by fire and blood. He begged me to help him. I held out my hands, but I could not reach him. The closer I was to him, the further he slipped away. You woke me when he tried to speak to me. What if I cannot decipher what he is trying to tell me? How will I ever help him? You should have left me to sleep and not touched me."
Whilst he spoke, Jun rose from the bed and began to pace restlessly around the room, gesturing angrily, but whether he was angry with himself or with Nino was unclear.
But for Nino it was all suddenly too much. Jun's anger, combined with a resurgence of his morning sickness, was making his stomach churn in an unpleasant way. He felt as if he had overstepped his boundaries by slapping Jun. Nino knew that if it was not for his relationship with Masaki he would still be Jun's personal servant and have no right to interfere with Jun's personal affairs.
Jun stopped speaking, as he noticed the unhealthy green tinge to Nino's face. He was about to ask if Masaki's herbal tonic was called for, but it was too late.
With a look of absolute distress Nino ineffectually pressed his hands over his mouth, but all he could do was lean over as he purged the contents of his stomach over the colourful woven rug that covered the floor beside Jun's bed.
Nino wished for nothing more than to run and hide, his shame threatening to overwhelm him. Jun would not allow it, however. He caught Nino, and forced him to sit in his favourite chair whilst he retrieved some water and a basin so that Nino might rinse his mouth. Jun awkwardly bent and folded the rug and removed it on his way.
Nino's face had changed from sickly green to a deep red, as he relived his shame. When Jun smoothed his damp hair back from his forehead so that he might wipe it with a clean cloth, Nino could do nothing to prevent his tears from running down his cheeks.
"I am so sorry Nino," Jun said as he gently wiped Nino's tears away as well. "I did not mean to blame you. None of this is your doing."
"I interfered with your life as if I had a right to, when I obviously do not," Nino mumbled. I am your inferior and it was remiss of me to forget that."
Jun took Nino by the shoulders and looked fiercely into his eyes, "Do not ever say that again. You are my dearest friend and like a brother to me. I really will be vexed with you if you even dare to harbor such thoughts in your head ever again."
"Speak no more upon the subject. If this continues, I shall weep, and you know that I have vowed not to."
Jun called the servants to clean the floor and run a bath for Nino in Jun and Sho's private bathroom which contained the luxuriously large tub that they so enjoyed utilizing together.
"Enjoy your bath, and I shall bring you some palatable food to you once I am properly attired," Jun said, as he gestured to the flimsy night clothes he was still clad in.
"I am sorry that I despoiled your bedchamber," Nino said.
"It was nothing you could help. You are carrying a child, remember? It is nothing that I haven't previously done many times over the duration of my own pregnancy."
Once he was assured that Nino was comfortably settled, and partaking of a thick slice of bread and honey, Jun returned to Sho's chamber whilst the servants cleaned his own room.
As he walked around the room, running his hands lovingly over Sho's possessions, Jun was still plagued by a strong sense of foreboding. He smoothed his hands over his belly and spoke to his unborn child, "My sweetling, please send good wishes to your Papa. I fear that he needs all of our strength just now."
Masaki and Toma were seated on a fallen tree at the side of the road, hastily devouring their packed luncheon.
It was far too cold to linger for long, illustrated by a few single flakes of snow that drifted past their faces as they ate and shared a flagon of beer between them.
They heard the sound of a rider nearing approaching from the direction in which they were heading, travelling at speed.
The young uniformed rider wore a look of desperation as he spurred his horse onwards. As he neared, his look changed to one of relief as he recognized Toma.
He reigned in his sweating and agitated mount as he drew level with them and cried out, "Thank heavens I have found you. It is most urgent that you attend to Lord Sakurai at once. He is deathly ill and we harbour grave fears for his life."