190 – Good friends and fun times
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Yue gingerly held the gift bag handed to her and blinked.

Rin smiled and said, "I hope you like it, Miss Yue! It's a gift for you and the baby! Oh, and it's a bit late but congratulations!"

"T-Thank you?"

Yue blinked again and then shifted her gaze to the distance.

Her husband had returned. But he hadn't returned alone.

From how he left and said he would 'grab everyone else', Yue thought that he would just grab Alphy, Betty, and maybe a few of the girls that he had helped since arriving. But...

A constant flow of people walking over to a growing pile of gifts and adding to it. The elevators, opening and closing as more people arrived.

It wasn't for John. Then... did he arrange this all for her...?

Zhaojun smiled and lightly nudged Yue. "Senior Sister is well received."

Yue clutched the bag to her chest with mixed emotions.

Asako walked over and then sighed. "Miss Yue's going to be swamped with presents at this rate, Sis. We were supposed to put the gifts with the others over there."

Rin looked back and smiled. "I know! But I wanted to congratulate Miss Yue again anyway. Besides, it's more personal handing the gift off directly."

"Yeah, but-"

"Um." Yue glanced at the gift bag and then at the growing pile of gifts and growing crowd of guests. She looked back at Rin and then said, "May I ask why you're giving so many gifts? Did Husband ask you to?"

Asako blinked and then rubbed her face. "That guy... Of course he wouldn't explain it."

Rin gasped and said, "You didn't know about the babyshower, Miss Yue?"

Yue frowned. "...Baby shower? Why would I shower our baby when it has yet to be born?"

Zhaojun laughed. "It is an expression, Senior Sister. I believe it is simply a gathering to celebrate and bless the new child." She looked over at Rin and said, "Is that correct, Miss Rin?"

"Yep!" Rin nodded and said, "It's a fun time to get together and wish the parents and the new baby good luck!"

"Well," Asako said. "That and to give you guys a head start on baby supplies. Though since John's filthy stinking rich, I guess that's not really an issue... So it's more to congratulate you and have fun."

Yue's eyes widened and she shook her head. "But such goodwill for someone like me..."

"It's fine!" Rin smiled and said, "Miss Yue is nice and kind! And I bet Mister John stressed you out a lot, so just enjoy yourself!"

Asako glanced over to the side and said, "Looks like Alphy's playing that dancing game again, Sis. Do you want to head over?"

"Hm?" Rin followed Asako's gaze and said, "Oh! And that girl next to Meggie might be one of our new kouhai! Let's go introduce ourselves!" With that said, Rin immediately dashed off.

Asako shook her head and then waved at Yue. "It's a bit late, but congratulations, Miss Yue. And nice seeing you again, Miss Zhaojun."

"Ah." Yue gave an awkward wave. "Nice to see you as well...?"

After that, Asako left.

When she did, Zhaojun turned back to look at Yue and said, "You should relax, Senior Sister. This event is one for you and the child. There is no need to be so stiff and nervous."

Yue glanced at the giftbag. Seeing the cutely folded baby clothes and bottles, she felt a bit warm. Even so, she still frowned. "I know. But-"

Zhaojun shook her head. "Remember what we have discussed? You must stop putting yourself down, Senior Sister."

Yue gently set the bag down and sighed. "I'll try, Zhaojun."

"Zhaozhao."

"...Zhaozhao."

At that time, someone else walked over. A woman with light brown hair and sharp eyes. But they were relaxed at the moment with a warm smile. Sakura waved and said, "Yue! It's been a while!"

"Miss Sakura?"

Sakura dragged a chair over and waved her hand. "Just Sakura's fine. I'd like to think we're close enough for that." She glanced over at Zhaojun and said, "And you must be... One of John's sisters?"

Zhaojun smiled and bowed her head. "Yes. I am Zhaojun, Sen- I mean to say, John's younger sister."

"Mm." Sakura nodded and said, "I can definitely see the resemblance to Alphy at least. Though you don't look a thing like John."

Zhaojun's smile widened. "Thank you. Hearing that I look like my beloved niece is always wonderful. And I have to say that Rin takes after you a great deal, Miss Sakura."

Sakura sighed. "Sometimes a bit too much considering how hard my Sweetie works..." She glanced over at the corner the girls were playing Just Dancing and smiled. "It's good to see she made some friends though."

Zhaojun nodded. "Yes. And I am eternally thankful that Rin is such good friends with my beloved niece."

Sakura waved her hand. "I could say the same back to you, Zhaojun."

Yue glanced at the two women with an awkward smile, unsure what to do or say.

Sakura noticed and then shook her head. "Sorry, Yue. I didn't mean to leave you out of the conversation."

Yue held up her hand and said, "It's fine, Sakura. I didn't have much to add."

"Hey, don't be like that." Sakura leaned forward and said, "It's your baby shower, so don't be afraid to be the star a bit." She glanced over to the side and said, "God knows John's already doing that."

"Hm?" Yue followed her gaze.

It seemed like sometime during her conversation with Zhaojun, a makeshift bar and karaoke stage had been set up. And on that stage was her dear Husband, mic in hand and a beer can in the other while a group of men cheered him on.

...Men?

Zhaojun laughed and said, "Senior Brother finally has some proper male friends. How wonderful."

Sakura chuckled. "Why does that not surprise me? But anyway." She turned back to Yue and said, "How are you doing, Yue? This is your first pregnancy, right?"

"Ah." Yue nodded. "It is." She placed her hands on her stomach and said, "And... I suppose it's a bit overwhelming."

Her emotions, her actions, John's love, being accepted by everyone despite it all, and now this celebration...

Sakura nodded. "Yeah. It's definitely a rollercoaster of emotions." She frowned. "...And that guy leaving you behind in the middle of it probably didn't help."

Yue quickly shook her head. "No. My Husband-"

Sakura waved her hand. "It's fine. You don't need to defend that guy... I already chewed him out enough. And I bet his sisters did too. Right, Zhaojun?"

Zhaojun nodded. "Yes. We made it quite clear how large of a mistake he made."

"...I believe that I should defend my husband more in that case however..."

Sakura shook her head. "Anyway, enough about that guy. Or guys. I wanted to talk about you and the baby."

Yue blinked and pointed to herself. "M-Me?"

Sakura nodded. "That's right." She looked down at Yue's belly and said, "Judging from the baby bump... You're probably on the second trimester, right?"

"Um..."

Sakura hummed and said, "That means you got through the morning sickness and you're feeling the little kid move around, right?"

"Y-Yes?"

"Right. Make sure to be careful and don't go overboard moving around then. Cramps are a giant pain in the ass, not to mention the backpain from it."

Yue's eyes widened. "Cramps? Backpain?"

Sakura nodded. "Mmhm." She winced, rubbing her stomach. "When I had Rin, I didn't know anything about that and oh man. I must have gone through a hundred heat packs those few months."

Yue started to feel nervous.

...She should be fine since she wasn't an ordinary mortal. And despite everything, her physique was strong as well.

It had to be, considering how often she was intimate with her husband.

But... Like her husband said, this wasn't an ordinary pregnancy. Or rather, it was an ordinary pregnancy for mortals, but not for those like herself.

Which was already apparent by those first few weeks where she was nauseous and extremely emotional.

"Ah." Sakura shook her head. "Don't worry about that." She looked over to Zhaojun and said, "After all, you've got John and your family here to help you get through it. Right, Zhaojun?"

She nodded and said, "Of course. If there is anything my sister requires, I will ensure that she receives it."

"See?" Sakura smiled and then grabbed Yue's hand. "So relax, Yue. You've got a caring... if a bit idiotic, Husband here to support you. You've got your in-laws like Zhaojun here to help out when that guy's pulling his usual antics. And I'm sure that Alphy and Betty are perfectly happy to help you out, even if you aren't their birth mother."

"...I will try."

"Good." Sakura nodded. "Stress is bad for the baby, so make sure to relax and talk to people if you need to."

Yue frowned, suddenly realizing something about Sakura's words. "This may be a bit rude, Sakura, but-"

Sakura waved her hand. "Nothing's too rude, Yue. We're friends. Well, I'd like to think we're friends. After all, we both have dumb guys who tend to act before they think and shoot themselves in the foot."

Yue laughed and said, "True. Then... Could it be that you were alone during your pregnancy?"

"Ah. That's..." Sakura sighed. "It's a long story. Lots of pain, heartache, and getting sick because I was a dumb kid who was having a kid of her own. Made lots of mistakes during that time... And it's actually a miracle that my Sweetie was born so healthy." She shook her head and said, "But that's something we can talk about after we've grabbed a few drinks- Ah, wait. You're pregnant. That's no good." She frowned and then looked over at Zhaojun. "Do you drink any, Zhaojun?"

Zhaojun smiled and said, "Wine, poetry, and song are the perfect mix for charm. And when it comes to charm, I am unrivalled."

"Hoh?" Sakura gave Zhaojun a once over and said, "So you're saying you can hold your liquor."

Zhaojun's smile widened.

Sakura laughed and then looked at Yue. "Wait here then. I'll grab some drinks for us... and some juice for you. Then we can relax and share some fun stories."

Zhaojun glanced back at the kitchen and said, "It seems like Sister Daji and Sister Xuannu are finished with preparations as well. I will go retrieve them."

"Ooh, good idea." Sakura smiled and said, "I'd love to hear some embarrassing stories about John."

"U-Um..." Yue frowned. "I'm not sure this is a good idea-"

"Psh." Sakura waved her hand and said, "It's a girl's night. The more the merrier. Though, I'll need to bring back a bit more then..."

Before Yue could say anything else, Sakura walked off.

Zhaojun turned towards Yue and said, "I will return shortly, Senior Sister. And please, do not worry. This is a chance for us all to properly know each other and for Senior Sister to show her true self."

"E-Even so, don't you think that it's a bit-"

Before Yue could finish, Zhaojun left.

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

"SO BREAKING THE RULES! BREAKING MY HEAAAART!" Maji took a deep swig from a beer and then grinned, going back to belting out song lyrics along with the karaoke machine.

Kai knocked over a small pile of beer cans at his feet and then waved a half-empty one at John. "You bastard!" He staggered over and slung an arm around John's shoulders before jabbing him in the chest. "Why the hell you gotta make my life so crazy, huh? Shoulda never gave you that buildin'!"

John rubbed the bridge of his nose.

Dammit. If only he hadn't maxed out his poison resistance... A few beers would have made this a lot more tolerable...

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