13. The Calm Before the Storm
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Two months had passed after the wedding. The newly married couple had everything well and smooth. Both families and their respective businesses were also calm, at least on the surface.

While Ryuichi and Eiji were being busy with their business management, Yukio stayed at home and Yukito started to manage the S'vanna Sanctuary that was already fully-constructed. The latter was also starting to start his research with the team of experts he gathered.

"Yukito? What's up?" He put the call on speaker since he was scanning through some documents in front of him. In a few minutes, he's up for another meeting.

"I'm sorry about the sudden call. Just thought I'd let you know before pushing it to the Purchasing team."

"What is it?"

"The second sun bear that was just rescued a month ago is already showing signs of giving birth, a premature one again. It will most probably be within the week. We need another incubator. The other three incubators are already occupied. That, and other sets of equipment, are needed."

"The whole sanctuary is under your management, Yukito. Do what you think is necessary."

"Yes, but the budget..."

"Are we falling short?"

"No, no, the buffer is big enough. But the expenses this month are really big."

"It's okay, I trust your decisions. The operations in the sanctuary have just kicked off. We are still in the process of discovering our needs as we encounter new situations. These expenses are inevitable."

"Thank you, Eiji. I'll put in the purchase request now."

"Good." Before the other side had cut the call, he quickly added, "And Yukito..."

"Yes?"

"I'll be adding some figures into your salary starting next month."

"What?? No. Don't Eiji, there's no need for that."

"Aside from the consistent overtime you do everyday, you also work in the clinic even on weekends. If you keep this up, you'll get sick."

He forgot that everything in the sanctuary was being reported to Eiji.

According to their agreement, the fees that Yukito earned through his clinic would all go to his personal account although the clinic was within the sanctuary's territory. Simply put, he was allowed to earn extra aside from the salary he got from managing the whole place.

"I won't deny that I really need to earn more, Eiji. But, I'm not doing it just for that reason. Over everything else, I want to have as much experience as I can. Every knowledge and skill I gain from each case I handle makes me more useful and capable to treat the animals that we are helping."

"I know that."

Eiji got the point, of course, but he still didn't like the idea of Yukito working this hard. The fact was, putting him close to him and under his watch was his only objective of making him work in the sanctuary. Yukito was a commendable specialist but if he really wanted to, he could get better ones even from abroad.

Sensing the apprehension in that curt response, Yukito continued, "I can't just learn after already losing one. I... I hate that feeling." The words were clear but the voice was low, carrying with it a subtle sense of sadness.

Knowing the reason behind those words, Eiji no longer wanted to drag the discussion. "Okay. If you really insist, then hire more people to assist you."

Yukito sighed, this was impractical but he knew that he couldn't argue further. "I got it. Thank you."

"I need to go. Don't forget to eat well on time." The line was then cut in a hurry.

Actually, he wasn't stupid not to know the feelings that Eiji held for him. He wasn't conceited or what but it was just too obvious. The calls he received were too many and too random to be considered just calls from a boss checking his work. Sometimes, he would even just call to check on him, his day and just about anything under the sun. At first he wondered why this overly busy guy had too much time for him but everything was dawned upon him when Eiji found out about Yukio's pregnancy.

That day, Eiji was still in Kyushu and they were finalizing Yukito's getting aboard the sanctuary's affairs when the former received a call from Yukio. In his excitement about the news, he insistently took Yukito in a celebratory dinner and went on and on about Yukio and the baby. At that time, Yukito, who was so shocked and quizzical about a man suddenly getting pregnant, found out about the secondary genders.

Everything about the Alpha, the Beta and the Omega genders were carefully explained to him by Eiji. From what Yukito learned, some people were born with secondary genders when they were born with such line of ancestry, or when someone from their line of ancestors carried Alpha, Beta or Omega genes mated with someone without such genes.

On the other hand, some people who originally didn't have secondary genders may develop into having one if consistently, strongly and intimately exposed to an Alpha, a Beta or an Omega, given that they open their consciousness and willingly accept the change. Yes, the conflict came from the word 'willingly' because having a secondary gender carried with it another set of constraints and responsibilities. But, this was still an irrefutable possibility and although not openly spoken, such circumstance of change had already existed for hundreds of years.

When he came into terms with this other side of reality, Eiji also became more and more expressive to him afterwards, giving him hints from time to time. He was straight and he also didn't have a secondary gender, but to his bewilderment, he felt no disgust, annoyance nor dislike towards Eiji. It might be thanks to the latter's kindness and generosity, or might also be because of the profound air of reliability and strength that he had on him. Whatever the reason of Yukito's sense of assuage towards Eiji, the former no longer bothered himself too much about it.

Meanwhile, as agreed upon, Genzo managed the corporation again. There were minor things that he still asked Yukio to do but he handled the more complicated and strenuous matters. After a couple of months, he flew back to Germany.

It was just his second day in Hamburg when he had a most unforeseen visitor.

"I know you gave him the data. Those were so detailed and in-depth, they couldn't be acquired no matter how good a paid investigator is. Why?"

The atmosphere in the whole office was in gloom and untouchable seriousness.

Rumi was standing in front of a serious man sitting behind his desk. This man held a very special part of her heart. She loved him, yes. Loved, but not to the point of being a mate.

"Isn't that good? You should be glad. We both know his intentions." Genzo smiled to the woman who held his heart and soul in her hands. If people saw him now, they'd be shocked to see that this overbearing and rigid man actually knew how to smile.

"Genzo..." There was distress in her voice. "These things are becoming more dangerous. The dealings are getting deeper and deeper into the dark market and the connections with big illegal organizations are being steadily established."

"Mm." Yes, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. "What are you afraid of, Rumi?"

"You know the answer to that. Those two directors are mainly pawns. My son is not stupid. He won't just sit back knowing that there are possibilities of hardships for Yukio. He'll soon find out who's the brain in all of this."

"Are you worried for him or me?"

There was a brief silence. Rumi looked away. "I told you to stop long time ago. I tried everything in my power to stop you. But you... you always get your way."

There was a deep sigh in response to her and an obvious sadness in the words thrown after. "Yes... except with you."

"Genzo... You have a very good family. We can't deny it, Ayako loves you. She endures because of you, Genzo, not because of any material thing you give her. And, Yukio... He's a wonderful son."

There was no response. Genzo's brows merely furrowed.

"Don't you still think you're lucky?"

"Not everything that's good is something that the person wants." He stared intently at the pair of gentle but resolute eyes in front of him.

"And not everything that we want is the thing that we need."

Genzo sighed and stood up. This woman, really, her words, her mentality, her kindness... She kept on pushing him but everything about her could only pull him closer. Yes, that was how it was, even after all these years.

"Stop worrying, Rumi. We have separate lives. Let's live the way we want to."

"No. I can't love you the way you want me to but I love you, Genzo." She stared at the man's back who was looking at the window of his office. "You are my brother. You and Nobu were the only family I had before Ichirou and Ryuichi. You tell me to just close my eyes and not care? Is that what you really want?"

"Yes." Without looking back at her, the response was firm and immediate.

"Well, I think I'll just have to disappoint you then. I will continue to worry about you, care for you and your family, do everything to stop you if I have to, and pester you like this. You should have already known, I also do things my way."

Another deep sigh was let out in time when the sound of a door closing was heard.

He knew, Rumi specifically came to Germany to see him. She was always like this. She took no reservations when it came to him and even Nobu. She was their best friend and their confidant, but she also acted like their mom and their sister. Orphans like them who grew up from the same orphanage faced the years of their lives like this, drawing strength from each other. But, although a girl, Rumi was the most emotionally and mentally strong among the three of them. They didn't have a home, never, even the warm and lively orphanage was just a shelter for them. But for Nobu and him, whenever and wherever there was Rumi, they had a home.

Genzo dejectedly sat back on his chair and stared at the figures shown in his computer screen. Rumi was right about the business' advances. But anyway, when had she ever been wrong?

Back in Tokyo...

"I'm home." Ryuichi came in the house and hanged his coat on the oak coat rack before changing his shoes into slippers. "Yukio?"

"I'm here!" A voice was heard from the dining room, together with some sound of utensils being placed on the table. "Wash your hands, the dinner's ready."

"Why are you the one doing this? Where's the Cook?" He entered the dining room and saw the young man pouring grapefruit juice in a glass. The table was already filled with saba shioyaki, nikujaga, sunomono, miso soup and genmai.

 The table was already filled with saba shioyaki, nikujaga, sunomono, miso soup and genmai

"Did you make all of these?"

True enough, Yukio wasn't really good at cooking. He never cooked before. He had the helpers at home and sometimes before, Eiji, who loved cooking, spoiled him with really good dishes, too.

Ryuichi's eyes sparkled in joy and warmth as he saw the food in front of him. 

"I... I asked the Cook to teach me a little today." He looked down to hide his flushed face. He was really embarrassed because all he could muster was a very simple set. He just hoped that Ryuichi wouldn't open the trash bin and see the evidences of how hard he tried to produce edible ones out of so many errors.

"Let's eat, hurry, I'm so hungry." Ryuichi held his arm and guided him to sit before he took his own seat. The overly happy smile somehow made Yukio nervous.

"If the taste doesn't... If it's not good, we can just order. There's a restaurant that can deliver here in a--"

"No, I want to eat all of them!" Ryuichi eagerly and excitedly looked at the dishes. "Let's eat!"

Yukio watched as Ruichi dug in and so enthusiastically wiped out all of his food. He put more meat and vegetables in the former's bowl and refilled the soup. In the end, Ryuichi ate so much more than Yukio did and finished all of the food that the latter cooked.

His heart swelled, the scene really flattered him. He was really motivated to learn more. He should feed this very appreciative man better and more dishes next time.

After eating, Ryuichi cleaned up and Yukio went to the master suite to take a bath. He was relaxing in a tub of warm, slightly fragrant milk water when he heard footsteps outside of the bathroom's door.

"Don't stay too long in the water, you might fall asleep again like last time."

"I'm almost done." He raised his voice to be heard by the other side.

"Okay."

When he went out, he saw a pair of pajamas carefully laid on the bedside. A smile tugged on his lips. He usually forgot to prepare his clothes before going inside the bathroom and Ryuichi always had them out for him before he finished showering or bathing.

"Thank you." He looked at the man who was preparing his luggage for his flight tomorrow to Osaka.

"Mm." Ryuichi stood up and took the hair dryer. He closed in their distance and made Yukio sit in front of the dressing table, facing a large mirror. He started drying the latter's hair.

"How long will you be gone this time?"

"Just three days."

"Just..." He looked down to fiddle on his robe. His voice was very low but it was still heard. Three days was already three years for him.

Ryuichi chuckled and ruffled his hair. "Three days." He held Yukio's chin and turned the latter's face towards him. "I'll try to make it shorter so I can come home earlier." He briefly kissed the other's lips and continued drying his hair.

Yukio didn't answer but he was happy with those words. He knew Ryuichi always worked fast whenever he was away and most of the time, he came home sooner than expected.

He never heard him said that he loved him but these days, it didn't matter to Yukio anymore. Whether Ryuichi was kind and gentle just because of the baby or if the Alpha was already in love with him, he didn't care as much as before. He was already content this way. If Ryuichi was treating him this well because of the little life he held inside his body, then perhaps it wouldn't be impossible for him to gain his husband's whole heart in the future. He was willing to wait and just do his best in acquiring that love.

"Go to sleep first. I'll follow you in a short while."

"I want to finish the book I was reading."

"Okay." He flicked his finger on the latter's nose and headed to the bathroom. "Drink your milk before it gets cold."

Yukio turned to look at the bedside table and saw a glass of milk on it. Once again, his heart swelled in bliss and he couldn't help but smile.

When Ryuichi went out of the bathroom, he saw Yukio still reading. These days, the Omega had been so engrossed with detective novels and insisted on reading the actual printed books instead of e-books. He already had a collection in the study room.

After drying his hair, he laid beside the young man who was still focused on his book.

"Let's go to sleep." Wrapping his arm around the latter's waist, Ryuichi snuggled closer to Yukio.

"Oh." He snapped back to reality and saw the sturdy arm around him. He smelled the minty shampoo and his mind relaxed a lot more. After closing the book and placing it on the bedside table, he dimmed the lamp and drew the quilt up to cover himself.

After several minutes of trying to sleep, Yukio gave up. He felt so uncomfortable.

"Ryuichi..."

"Hmm?"

No answer, but Ryuichi felt Yukio restlessly shifting his body inside the quilt. He realized that the room was already starting to be engulfed in a wave of pheromones. Without the need to think first, he released his Alpha pheromones in a higher density to take over the whole body of the aroused Omega.

He immediately shifted and pressed Yukio under him. "Not tired?"

Yukio slightly shook his head and felt his face burned as his blood started heating up and rushing all throughout his body. He wanted to hide but he also wanted to satisfy the hunger that was raging inside of him. It was truly so conflicting.

Looking at the bashful young man, Ryuichi was amused. Even until now, his Omega still got flustered and embarrassed with this type of need.

Ryuichi leaned down to kiss Yukio's lips. It was gentle at first. Injecting pheromones into him to avoid any accidents that may endanger the baby. When he felt that the body he was embracing was already under his full control, the kiss went bolder and deeper. His hands moved without constraints this time and he could feel the desire eating up almost all of his rationale.

The night turned out so long and the two of them exercised more than enough before the Omega who initiated the seduction lost consciousness and peacefully fell asleep in his Alpha's arms. The latter looked at the sleeping face and kissed the sweaty forehead before he carefully carried him into the bathroom.

"I'll call in the morning and at night, before you sleep. Stop putting your phone on silent mode, because I'll also be calling anytime within the day. You can't ignore any of my calls and messages."

"Yes, master." Yukio was fastening the buttons of Ryuichi's coat with a blushing, blooming face. He was sad that they'd be apart again but the caring words were really putting his heart into a happy dance.

Ryuichi held his chin up and made him look back directly at the former's dark violet eyes. "I'm serious. I get crazy when you don't answer."

"I know." He pressed his face on the other's chest to hide the big smile that gave him away. This time again, he felt so, so lucky to have this life as his second chance to live.

"Your vitamins, don't forget to take them. Eat well and don't get yourself tired." He hugged Yukio tight and kissed the top of the latter's head.

"Mm. You take care of yourself, too."

"Of course. I won't be able to take care of you and our child if I get sick."

Yukio lifted his head and kissed the man hugging him. "Mm. Please come home soon."

Ryuichi laughed. He hadn't even left yet, his adorable Omega already mused on him coming back home. So clingy, but he surely and amusingly loved every bit of it.

The day Ryuichi left, Yukio received a call.

"Dad."

"There's a business meeting that I need to attend in Fukushima tomorrow but some dealings here in Hamburg hinder me from leaving. Go in my stead."

Although Yukio wasn't as fierce and officious as he was, this son of his undoubtedly had his own charms at work. So far, since he took over the CEO position of Quantum Corporation, no negotiation had ever failed and no deal had ever fallen into an undesirable conclusion. His ways were lenient, gentle and considerate but firm, logical and strategic. Even the number of enemies the corporation earned within decades of winning over countless competitors shrunk and most of them turned into allies.

Besides, no matter how a discussion turned, how could someone be irate towards a person who was sincerely and consistently on a good vibe?

"Is this about the new plant for renewable energy?"

"Yes, the negotiations are still on. Don't disappoint me."

"Yes, dad."

"Bring Eiji with you. He's into construction business, give him some projects there."

Although Yukio knew that this was a consolation for making him work and handle one of the most competitive projects that they currently had, he was still ecstatic that his father finally had favorable thoughts for his half-brother. "Thank you, dad."

"Don't forget, my expectations are high." It was clearly for both of them. Not that he wasn't used to it yet, he just didn't like the feeling of being reminded.

"Bye, dad."

He wasn't worried about the deal, he had positive notions about it and he was certain he could clinch a good deal. The one that made him feel uneasy was the thought of Ryuichi. Sure enough, the latter would be against him suddenly traveling and working. These days, he could clearly see and feel how his husband was doing his best in securing his pregnancy.

"It's just one day." He affectionately rubbed the bump in his abdomen and talked to the tiny palpitating life inside. "We'll just have to be very, very careful and we'll be home before your father comes back." 

"Hmm, it wouldn't be a problem." He silently thought but also hoped.

----

Author's Notes:

Some of you might wonder about the title "The Brave Sacrifice" when the story is all smooth-sailing, right? Hmn, the calm before the storm, might be it. 🙊 Please, please don't hate me for the next chapters! 🙈

Let me share this one. I love anime soooooooo much! And for what reason? It is because, anime conveys the most raw and in-depth feelings in life in the most creative, understandable and relatable (yeah, no matter how weird some things are 🤷) ways. Anime shows beauty, happiness and all else while saying, "Hey, life isn't perfect. In fact, it's all f***ed up! But hang in there, everything will be fine." So in my stories, I want to try showing the same thing in somehow the same way. Because, yeah, really, in whatever universe or dimension it is, life can never be perfect. 🙅

Please, please let me know if you have thoughts about the story, any corrections or whatnot, I would love to read them! 

Thank you for reading! Lots of love to all! 🥰

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