126 – Mommy?
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The first thing John noticed when the elevator doors opened to Alphy's room was that it was really lively.

Rin, Asako, and Alphy were huddled together nearby, chatting about streaming plans, smiles on their faces.

In the back of the room, Tsuki and Meg were playing a fighting game. 'Road Fighter' from the look of it, with Meg using Shunrei to perform a special finishing blow on Tsuki's character, Kenneth Master that was at a pixel of health.

...And then Tsuki pulling off the famous [Daigo Parry].

Fortunately, it seemed like his youngest daughter was a good sport about it and immediately started a second match.

Shaking his head, John shifted his gaze to the others in the room.

Betty was leaning against the countertop off to the side, sipping on a cup of coffee while reading something on her phone.

And then there was Yue... and Sakura.

Unlike what John expected, the two were getting along well. At the least, they seemed to be. The two women were seated together on the side of Yue's bed and laughing about something.

John didn't know what, but if he had to guess, it probably had something to do with him and Kai.

"Oh, Mister John!" Rin noticed John first and waved. "Good evening!"

John stepped out of the elevator and then nodded. "Evening, Rin. Though... Is it alright for you to be out so late?"

Sakura was here, so John couldn't really say anything, but Rin still had a stream tomorrow and her usual practice too.

Rin nodded. "Don't worry, Mister John! I know my limits!"

"If you say so... But be careful, alright? Staying up too late isn't good for your health."

Asako laughed and glanced over at Alpha. "Hear that, Alphy? Your 'Papa' says staying up too late isn't good for you."

Alpha flinched.

John noticed and glanced towards her, raising an eyebrow. "Alphy? Something you need to tell me?"

Alpha shifted her gaze and said, "I-It's nothing, Father. Don't worry about it."

"The fact that you're calling me 'Father' and not Papa is worrisome enough. But... I guess I'll let it slide." He walked over and ruffled her hair.

Alpha flushed, but then quickly ducked out from underneath it. "P-Papa!" She glanced at Asako and Rin and muttered, "Not here."

John laughed and then shifted his gaze towards the person he needed to talk with the most.

Yue noticed John's gaze and then shifted, averting her eyes.

Sakura noticed too and then stood up. Giving John a judgmental gaze, she shook her head and then said, "You're back already, huh? How's Kai?"

John walked over and said, "I put him to sleep and tucked him in for the night. Should be fine tomorrow morning."

"Somehow, I doubt that it was that simple..." She frowned. "He's really fine?"

John waved his hand. "Don't worry. I went easy on him. If anything, he'll be up tomorrow feeling super refreshed."

Sakura hummed. "If you say so." She picked up her purse from the ground and adjusted it on her right arm. After that, she glanced at Yue and then back at John. "I've go a lot I want to ask you about your dear wife... and a certain off-hand comment you made a while back. But Yue tells me it's been a few weeks now since you've seen each other, so I'll bug you about that later." Saying that, Sakura walked off to the side, giving John and Yue some space.

"Thanks." John nodded and then walked over to his wife, standing in front of her. "Yue."

"H-Husband..."

Was it because she still felt guilty about before? Or was she overwhelmed with joy? Yue averted her gaze, a blush on her cheeks.

Sakura sighed. "Damn. He's got you hooked good, doesn't he?"

Yue's blush deepened.

John glanced over and glared. "Some privacy would be nice."

Sakura held up her hands. "Fine, fine." She turned around and walked towards the elevator.

"Oh!" Rin looked over and said, "Are we leaving, Mom?"

"Not yet, Sweetie." Sakura shifted her gaze to Asako and said, "There's actually something I've been meaning to talk to you about... With Rin, too."

Rin blinked. "E-Eh? Something with Aneue?"

"Aneue, huh?" Sakura glanced at Asako.

Asako shook her head. "I didn't tell her yet."

"Mmm...."

"Wait." Rin looked between Sakura and Asako, frowning. "Tell me what, Mom?"

Sakura grabbed Rin's hand and said, "Let's go somewhere else first, Sweetie." Sakura called the elevator and then glanced back. "Asako-chan, you have a room here, right? Can we go there?"

Asako nodded. "Yeah. Here, I'll take us there." She walked into the elevator and pressed the button to the floor repurposed as apartments.

Sakura and Rin followed after her, and then the three left, the elevator doors closing behind them.

With that, it was just John and his family... and Tsuki, who was still playing with Meg.

Since the others had left, Alpha shrugged and moved to the recording booth, carrying her laptop with her.

Beta noticed her father's gaze on Meg and Tsuki and then sent a mental transmission.

*Should I put the children to sleep?*

'It's fine. We're going to head out to talk anyway.'

*Understood.*

Yue was silent, waiting on John's words and just observing him.

That was good. It seemed that she was being rational at least... hopefully.

Maybe Sakura helped him out a bit there earlier. He'd need to remember to thank her later.

But for now...

"Tsuki?"

Kai's daughter paused and then looked over. "Yes, Mister John?"

"Your dad fell asleep, so you're going to have to have a sleepover with Meg. Do you mind?"

"No!" Tsuki jumped up, beaming. "That's great! Ah, but..." She frowned. "Will Daddy be okay with it?"

"I'm sure it'll be fine. And your dad's in pretty deep sleep right now, so it's not like you can really go home either."

Omega tugged Tsuki's shirt and said, "Did you... not want to play with me, Tsuki?"

Tsuki glanced back and quickly shook her head, smiling. "I just wondered if it was okay! Now, let's go again! I'm sure you can beat me this time, Meggie!"

Seeing that the kids were accounted for, John shifted his attention back to Yue and held out his right hand. "Alright, Yue. Let's go."

Yue glanced at his hand and then nodded, grabbing it with her left. "Yes, Husband."

John smiled and gently pulled her up before walking her over to the elevator.

Along the way, Yue shifted in place, glancing at John before averting her eyes.

John pressed the elevator button and then looked at his wife, smiling. "It's not like you to be so shy, Yue. I remember you being quite a bit bolder not too long ago."

Yue huffed. "And whose fault is that? You're the one who made me so strange in the first place... Pervert."

"Hey now, I'm not the one who gathered all of the dual-cultivation techniques and insisted we try them out. That was all you."

"S-So? You're the one who wanted to try something different in our relationship!"

"Yeah. Like dating."

Yue's blush turned super red and then she huffed, glancing to the side.

John laughed and then shook his head. "Sorry. Couldn't help tease my cute wife since it's been so long. But seriously though." John's expression became serious and he said, "Is something wrong? You seem nervous."

Yue turned back to look at John and then she sighed. "Nothing's wrong. It's just... strange." She looked to the ground and said, "I know we've held each other much more intimately than this. But for some reason, standing so close and simply holding hands like this..." She placed her right hand over her chest and said, "It makes my heart race."

John frowned. "Your heart?"

"Yes, my he- E-E-Eh?!"

John moved in front of Yue and stared into her eyes. Then he placed his hand on her forehead. Finding no problem there, he leaned over and placed his head against her chest, listening to her heart. "Hm... Everything seems normal. A bit faster pulse like you said, but that's probably just your nerves."

The elevator doors opened with a chime.

Yue huffed and shoved John inside, blushing. "You scoundrel! you haven't changed a bit!"

John laughed and then pulled Yue in, hugging her. "Only when it comes to you."

Yue tensed, but then relaxed, sighing. "Cheater. You always know the right words to say."

"Only when it comes to calming down my beloved and adorable wife."

"Hmph." Yue looked around and said, "Where are we going?"

John reached over and pressed the button for the first floor. "We're actually going to warp to my apartment, but I have to do this much first so that the others don't pick up on things."

Not that it was too big of a deal if they did. After all, John was sure he could trust the girls and Sakura to keep quiet about it. But it was still a conversation he'd like to put off for later if he could.

Yue nodded. "I understand. Though, it's a bit surprising." She turned back to look at John and said, "It isn't like you to be so covert. In the Three Realms you always charged in and solved things with... How did you put it? 'More Dakka?'"

John chuckled. "True. But this place isn't the Three Realms."

Yue turned her head around and muttered. "Yes. I suppose it isn't."

A soft beep and a chime. The elevator arriving on the first floor. When it did, John nodded. "Alright. Off we go."

Space rippled, and then the husband and wife duo were in a different place. John's apartment.

It was as barren as always, but because of some preparation John did last time in laying down cleaning and privacy formations, it was neat and tidy.

Yue stepped away from John's arms and then looked around, frowning. "This is where we'll be living in the future?"

John walked over to pick up the letters tucked through his door and said, "I didn't expect you and Meg to arrive so soon. I was planning on arranging things for Christmas... Ah, that's a holiday about a month from now. I was expecting you two to arrive then."

Yue watched John and nodded. "That was the original intention... but the stars suddenly aligned, so we took a chance."

John straightened and then glanced at the sky. "Yes. The stars really did align, didn't they?"

"Hm?" Yue followed John's gaze. "What are you looking at, Husband?"

"No one and nothing in particular. Just venting my frustration at the impenetrable fourth wall."

"Fourth wall?"

John shook his head. "Don't worry about it. For now, you should make yourself comfortable... Ah, there's not really much to make herself comfortable on is there?"

There was the sofa and a few chairs, but other than that...

Yue walked over to the sofa and said, "This will be fine."

"You sure?"

Yue smiled. "As long as I am with you, anywhere is fine, Husband."

"...Now you're making me feel guilty." John rubbed the back of his neck and walked over, materializing a quilted blanket. "Here. At least use this to keep warm." Staring at Yue's thin robes, he frowned and said, "And we'll need to get you some proper clothes sometime too. Well, I suppose we're due for a family shopping trip anyway."

Yue took the blanket and then just stared at John, smiling.

Smiling, but with a strange emotion in her eyes.

John frowned. "Something wrong?"

"...No. I'm just... lost in thought."

"Mm... If you say so. Then, do you want something to eat?" John walked over to the kitchen and said, "It's a bit late, so I won't cook too much... and I only have a few ingredients that I kept in my Heavenly Realm, but I should be able to make some light snacks."

Yue shook her head. "Anything is fine. As long as it's from you."

"...Alright."

In that case... While Yue was being surprisingly agreeable and meek, he should still stack the deck in his favor.

Chocolate chip cookies and fresh hot cocoa should be nice, right?

-----AI|IA-----

Yue watched her husband move around the kitchen area and cook.

It was still odd to see.

The surroundings were different. The world was different. Even *he* was different. But not much. And not in a bad way.

He was still considerate. He still cared. And... he still loved her.

She knew that. Of course he did. Even so...

Staring at John moving about and carefully preparing the ingredients, Yue couldn't help but call out. "Husband?"

John paused and looked back. "Yes, Yue?"

"...This isn't a dream, is it?"

She could remember it. The hazy and warm feeling. The pleasant warmth all around her.

This was like that. Only... more.

And that worried her.

What if this was just still a part of the heart demon tribulation?

What if she never woke up? What if it was just another dream in a dream?

What if-?

"Hm... I suppose it would seem like too much of a dream. Things are going too well... Alright. Then I'll bring you back down to Earth for a bit."

"E-Eh?"

John looked at Yue and said, "Yue- No. Wife. I'm very disappointed in you."

Yue froze.

Those warm eyes were suddenly distant. No, disappointed.

"You see-"

Before John managed to get out any other words, Yue's vision started to blur. And then her body moved by itself, and she ran to John, hugging him. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to make you worry!"

"H-Huh?!"

Yue buried her face into his chest and shook her head. "I couldn't help it. I love you too much, and then the thought of being apart from you with a distance I couldn't cross, even for just a short while... And then thinking that other women could enter your life and that you might change your mind about me..." She sniffed and then started to cry.

"H-Hold on, Yue! I mean... C-Calm down!" He reached around and patted her back. "Don't cry. I didn't mean to-"

"I promise! I'll do whatever you say from now on! I'll listen to you! I'll be whatever you want me to be! But don't leave me!"

It was irrational. It was selfish. Yue could tell already. She knew that. Saying all those words were only going to make him feel more guilty. But... But...!

John sighed and then gently pushed Yue back, holding her shoulders.

She looked up at him, blinking away her tears. Her lips quivered, opening and closing to speak but unable to find the words.

John shook his head. "This kid..."

Yue lowered her gaze.

So... a child, was it? That's... what her husband saw her as. Then...

Suddenly, a soft brush on her forehead. A faint kiss.

Yue's eyes widened and she looked up. When she did, John stole a kiss from her.

Yue froze and then blinked. "H-Husband?!"

He smiled and then lightly poked Yue's belly. "Oi."

Yue flinched, caught off-guard at the sudden contact. "H-H-Husband?!" She blushed and pulled her arms around her chest. "T-That is... I-If you want... I-I...!"

Could it be that it was that long for him as well? Yue didn't mind, but... So suddenly! Th-That...

"Stop messing with Mommy, alright? You're making her worry too much."

"Eh?" Yue blinked. "Mommy?"

John rubbed the back of his neck and said, "I know that I've got a lot of beautiful women around me, but the only one for me is your Mommy, alright? So stop forcing things and be patient."

Yue blinked again.

She was sure of it that time. Her husband had just said, 'Mommy.'

Even so... J-Just to clarify.

"Husband."

John looked up. "Hm?"

"You... Did you just say 'Mommy?'"

John nodded. "Right."

"...Whose Mommy?"

John shook his head. "Who else? Our kid's."

"...Meggie?"

"No, the baby."

"...Whose baby?"

"Yours. Ours."

Yue pointed to herself. "...Me?"

John rolled his eyes. "Yes, you. You're pregnant. With our child." He frowned and stared at Yue's belly... No, where the child should be. "A troublesome little brat that really worries too much about us staying together."

Yue paused, slowly taking the information in.

A child.

Her child- No, *their* child.

Pregnant.

...Her?

Yue blinked. "...I'm pregnant? With your child? OUR child?! ME?!"

John raised an eyebrow. "Why are you so surprised? I mean, you were already cradling a baby when I saw you in the heart demon tribulation."

"T-That's true, but I never... The pregnancy happened in an instant and the child was suddenly there. But this..." She leaned back on the sofa and gently placed her hands on her stomach, countless emotions flickering through her face. "Your child... Our child? In here, is really...? Then I...?"

A wave of happiness. A burst of warm and fuzzy emotions in her chest.

Overwhelmed by everything, Yue fainted.

-----AI|IA-----

"Yue!" John quickly caught his wife before she fell off the sofa. At first, he was concerned, but seeing her happy smile, he sighed. "Maybe I should have told her after she got some proper rest..."

It seemed like his beloved wife was too overwhelmed by the good news and fainted out of happiness.

John sighed and then carefully lifted her up, heading to the bedroom. "Well, at least that buys me time to figure out how to talk about the other stuff."

Like his plans for Project MirAIs, why there were so many more women around him, the fact that he left the Three Realms around the same time she became pregnant was a coincidence...

But that was a tomorrow issue. One that he could deal with over some nice breakfast.

Yeah. That was probably for the best.

But for now...

John walked into his bedroom and carefully tucked Yue into bed. After that, he crawled under the sheets and snuggled up next to her, pulling her close. Placing his head against her shoulder, John smiled and then closed his eyes to sleep as well.

After everything that he went through, he'd say that he earned a rest too, right?

-----AI|IA-----

The basement floor of Myth Inc. HQ. The place that John converted into a stage in order to use it for the music stream for Yue.

In the middle of another piano piece, Titor let out a sigh.

...That bastard completely forgot about me, didn't he?

Shaking his head, Titor focused on the song again and started to sing.

"Every night in my dreams..."

[Play My Heart Will Go On - Titanic]

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