Until the Sun Shines Again
by Ren’ai-chan

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

I stretch my legs, working out the cramps that have settled in during my hours-long vigil in this chair. Some cushions. I wince as I rub my sore bottom, my hand brushing against the stiff plastic seat covering. I don’t dare leave this chair, though, uncomfortable as it is. I don’t dare leave this room, despite the less-than-pleasant environment.

The acrid smell of alcohol and sterilization pervade my nose. After inhaling it for several days straight, it has become almost an anathema. I can endure it. I’ll endure it for as long as it takes.

The room has all the appearance of a hotel, but it seems somewhat more impersonal, even more than a hotel room. Maybe that’s because there are so many more tenants here, all of whom must be individually tended to.

I thought I would be happy -- no, thrilled -- to arrive at the hospital. I suppose I was, for awhile. I rushed Keiko in here a few days ago. Two? Three? It seems longer than that. Her water had broken. She was going to have a baby. Our baby.

I had rushed to the telephone and called everyone I could think of. I called Kuwabara, boisterously gloating that my Keiko was giving birth before he could even get his wife Yukina pregnant -- at which he screamed like a madman and threatened that if I didn’t shut my mouth, he’d do it for me.

I called Kurama, knowing he would find some way to get in touch with Hiei. I knew that even if he acted like he couldn’t care less about my soon-to-be family, "Uncle Hiei" wouldn’t pass up the chance to see the birth. I love calling him that name. It makes him squirm and glower every time he hears it. He needs practice, though, for when he becomes a real uncle. I won’t bring that up around him, however; just the prospect of his Yukina pregnant is sure to send him into a manhunt for his brother-in-law with katana in hand.

I even "called" Baasan, sending a little mental note to the Reikai as I rushed to the delivery room. Do you see me, Baasan? Fooled you, didn’t I? I turned out pretty well after all. I have a stable job, and I actually made good on one of my promises and married Keiko. And now I’m going to have a little daughter or son of my very own...

To my surprise, the doctor stopped me at the door. He had to tell me something before I went in.

There were complications.

Whether it is the over air conditioning in the room or the memories I’m calling forth that are making me shiver, I don’t know.

The baby was positioned wrong. Its feet instead of its head were trying to come out first. Oy. Of all the things the baby could inherit from me, it had to choose the notorious Urameshi intellect.

So Keiko had to have an operation. They called it a C-section for short, but I don’t remember the full name. The doctor assured me that it was a standard procedure, and that it would be fine, but my heart still hammered wildly in my stomach.

She was conscious through the entire thing. She refused any painkillers, afraid that they might affect the baby. My Keiko’s always putting others before herself.

I held her hand tightly during the ordeal, assuring her over and over that she would be fine, that the baby would be fine, and that we would all be home in a few days. I knew Keiko could see the doubt lingering in my eyes, but she was brave enough for the both of us.

I snap out of my reverie as I hear Keiko move, the bedsheets rubbing noisily against each other. My eyes are focused wholly on her, wondering how she will feel when she wakes up.

She hasn’t been the same since the operation. The doctor assures me that it is just part of the recovery process. I may be no doctor, but I do know my Keiko. She would bounce right back after something like this. I wonder if anything went wrong.

Keiko’s large, beautiful brown eyes open and lock with mine. Eyes that are interwoven with facets of exhaustion.

I hide my worry with a smile. I know she’s good at reading me, so I have to be careful not to scare her with my silly concerns. "Hey, you."

Keiko smiles back, blinking slowly. "Hi." Her tongue pokes out, moistening her dry lips. "Agh." She grimaces, swallowing and trying to rehydrate her mouth. "How long have I been asleep?"

I shrug. "A few hours. You need it anyway."

She reaches out and turns my hand so she can read my wristwatch. "Three o’clock?" she exclaims quietly. "Wow. I must be tired."

My brows furrow slightly, but I quickly cover it up. Even with several hours of sleep, Keiko is still unbelievably weary. But the doctors have been watching her. They haven’t said anything, so that means she’s fine.

Right?

"Where’s my baby?" Keiko inquires. "I want to see her."

"She’s in the nursery, of course, dummy," I tease her, at which she whaps my hand. "I’ll go get her."

I stand up and head for the door, flashing my wife a crooked grin. The thought of my daughter has considerably brightened my spirits. She made it through the surgery flawlessly, probably due to the legendary Urameshi luck. She has the largest, most trusting eyes -- besides Keiko, naturally -- and her large head, covered with fuzzy non-hair, is so adorable. I guess that’s one good thing from the operation -- if Keiko had to push that massive head out of her body, there’s no way she would survive!

It sounds silly, but when I look at my baby girl -- when I stand outside the large nursery windows and just stare at her -- I feel this swelling of pride and happiness. She’s only been in this world for three days, but I already see her entire life with sharp clarity, as if I’m looking back on fond memories. I see her going to school for the first day, and coming home with a million stories to tell her parents. I see her riding gleefully atop my shoulders as I race around the yard, halted only by a livid Keiko demanding her child be returned to the safety of the ground. Protectiveness envelops me when I imagine her going on her first date, and I can see the boy’s apprehensive smile as I glare at him warningly. I feel the gut-wrenching sadness I’m sure to experience when her heart breaks for the first time, crying in her mother’s comforting arms yet unconsciously shutting her father out. Her glowing face is vivid in my mind, the expression she will wear when she finds the person she will spend the rest of her life with. A familiar expression to me, because I wear it myself every time I lay eyes upon this baby’s mother.

She’ll get married, then; I’ll have to give her away, let her go even though it means letting go of my heart. But she’ll be happy. She’ll live a wonderful life, and have children… and so it will come full circle.

"Yuusuke!" I blink, and realize that I had stopped in the doorway. I have to stop daydreaming like this! I turn to Keiko, ready to paste an angelic smile on my face.

I had thought she was snapping at me for just standing like a dumb oaf, but I should have heard the panic in her voice. I swear as I dash over to her, eyes widening at the awful sight of the spreading red stain on the sheets.

"I must have moved too fast… Ripped the staples…" she gasped, face contorted in pain.

"No, this can’t be your fault," I assure her. I stick my head out the door. "Oi oi!!" I yell frantically. "I need some help!"

Two nurses who are passing by rush in. "Oh dear," one frets as the other punches a button on the control pad. "Who’s her doctor?"

"Uh…" Think, dammit! "Hisakawa."

The nurse nods and hurries off to fetch the doctor. A few other nurses have entered, apparently responding to the other nurse’s call. They transport Keiko onto the stretcher they have brought with them, and push her into the hallway.

"What’s happened?" The doctor has caught up with the running nurses.

"I’m not sure. She’s hemorrhaging, but I don’t know why," the nurse responded.

"Don’t know why?" I exclaim, keeping up with them easily. "You’re gonna fix it though, right?"

Dr. Hisakawa places a firm hand on my shoulder. "Urameshi-kun, you’ll have to stay out here," he informs me as they push Keiko through swinging doors.

"No way am I staying out here!" I argue vehemently.

"Your wife is about to undergo another surgery," he explains gently. "It’s easier for everyone if you just wait here."

I open my mouth again, but I know he’s right. Still, I want so badly to rush in with Keiko, make her feel better, take all her pain away.

"Ai shiteru, Keiko!" I yell, the urge coming to me almost as an afterthought. Please be all right, I add silently.

I open the door as quietly as possible, but I can’t stop the creaking of the old hinges. I slip into the room, careful not to disturb the bundle in my arms. I know the doctors would kill me if they knew I brought my baby in here, but I don’t care.

I approach the bed where Keiko is lying. Her face looks... well, beautiful is an understatement. Her eyes are closed, the long lashes barely brushing against her cheeks. Her lips are drawn together in this serene little smile, as if she were dreaming about something wonderful.

"Hey, you," I whisper to her. "Look who I brought."

I nudge away the blankets framing the baby’s face, so it will be more visible to Keiko.

"So you can see her one more time."

I look down at the tiny form sleeping in my arms, oblivious to the world around her.

"So you can say goodbye."

Oblivious to how incredible a woman her mother was.

I feel a stinging behind my eyes, and fight against it. I’m not supposed to cry over her. She wouldn’t want me to.

Still, a tear escapes and splashes onto the baby’s blanket.

I still can’t really understand what happened. My friends heard about Keiko and came to the hospital to wait with me. I thought since the doctors had gotten to her quick enough, that she would be okay. That they could save her.

But then I noticed that someone was missing from the waiting room.

Botan.

I could hate her. I could spend the rest of my life cursing her for taking away a perfect wife and sure to be wonderful mother. But she had no control over it. I knew that. Botan hated to do it, but she had had to. Driving away one important woman in my life would never bring back the other.

So I knew before the doctor came out; just sat hunched over in a chair, my hair hiding my face, as he broke the news to the others.

Keiko...

"Dead," I whisper, the sound of my voice echoing hollowly. That is the first time I have uttered the word since finding out. I guess I finally accept it.

Of course, part of me would never let her go. That little part of me would always feel her watching over my shoulder, embracing me comfortingly as I worked to raise our child to be just like her.

"I will, Keiko," I say softly, drawing my eyes away from the baby and to her. "I promise I will try my hardest to make her as good as you...were."

It will be the hardest thing I do in my life, to go on without her -- harder than any tournament, harder than even dying. But I have to, if only for my little girl.

And then I feel her, just like I predicted, leaning on my shoulder and smiling.

She urges me to glance outside. The first rays of the sun have appeared, the new day’s light piercing the room as well as my heart.

Hold me close, baby please
Tell me anything, but that you're gonna leave
As I kiss this falling tear
I promise you, I will be here

'Til the stars fall from the sky
'Til I find a reason why,
And darlin' as the years go by,
'Til there's no tears left to cry,
'Til the angels close my eyes,
And even if we're worlds apart
I'll find my way back to you, by heart

When you go, I'll start the climb
I won't ever let this moment stop
Time is stealing you from me
But it can never take this memory

'Til the stars fall from the sky
'Til I find a reason why,
And darlin' as the years go by,
'Til there's no tears left to cry,
'Til the angels close my eyes,
And even if we're worlds apart
I'll find my way back to you, by heart

'Til the stars fall from the sky
'Til I find a reason why,
And darlin' as the years go by,
'Til there's no tears left to cry,
'Til the angels close my eyes,
And even if we're worlds apart
I'll find my way back to you, by heart.

Jim Brickman
"By Heart"


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