"Is there something wrong with our human?"
Raon observed Cale, who was blankly staring at the vast expanse of the field inside the Forest of Darkness and eating summer fruits.
Cale was rocking on a rocking chair for the last few hours under the shade of the tree. He was plucking freshly picked strawberries one at a time to eat before just blankly dozing off.
"Isn't he just dozing off?"
Now the slightly older kitten Hong was wagging his tail next to Raon while observing Cale. The two of them played on the potato field away from Cale, so Cale could not hear what they were saying.
"I know he's done this before! He wakes up later and later every day. Thankfully, this time, he seems to be eating more than he usually does. But he goes back to sleep again after eating and tending the farm for a little. He's barely moving these days!"
Raon had a severe expression as he shared his observations with Hong. He then started to frown some more.
"See! He's sleeping again!"
Cale had his eyes closed, and his head tilted to the side as he once again fell asleep while rocking in the rocking chair.
"Isn't he always like this?" Hong shrugs before reaching out his paw at the fluttering butterfly that flew in front of them.
"I'm sure it's nothing." On assured as she approached her two little brothers closer after seeing that Hong is distracted by the butterfly "Cale is just his usual lazy self."
Raon looked at On and then back to Cale. She was right. There seemed nothing wrong when they looked at him. Raon could only nod, but he still can't help being worried.
How could he not be worried?
It just happened recently. Raon could feel something latching onto the human. It felt familiar to Cale but still different. It doesn't seem dangerous, but not knowing precisely what that thing is was making Raon anxious. Sensing its presence growing steadily within Cale had not helped either.
The little dragon considered asking either Eruhaben or Sheritt about it when he suddenly felt something poking at his forehead.
"Why are you spacing out?" Cale grumbled, he felt hot and uncomfortable being under the sun. "It's time for lunch."
The children averaging eleven years old happily followed Cale back in the super rock villa. On and Hong are excitedly guessing what Beacrox had cooked for lunch.
Raon decided that he’d observe a little more before bringing it up again to the others.
It just hit him so suddenly as they were walking back to the super rock villa. His whole body suddenly felt heavy, and Cale felt like he was losing his balance. He tried to bear with the dizziness without showing it in his face. He would like to not faint in front of the badly traumatized children with vicious thoughts that they would destroy everything if anything happens to him, thank you very much.
He tried to take a few more steps, thinking that he could do it as they were not far but his body refused to cooperate with him. Every step he took was painful, and his vision was swimming until everything turned black as he felt down.
Cale could faintly hear their cries, but it all seemed so distant. It has been a while since this happened. As his consciousness slowly faded, he just hoped that this has nothing to do with that meddlesome god of death and that the others won’t make a huge fuss out of it.
When Cale came to, he was already back in his room. Eruhaben was sitting by his bedside with his arms crossed against his chest. The golden dragon was glaring down at him.
“Tsk. You unlucky bastard.”
Cale should have known better that his companions would make a huge fuss about it.
“It’s good to see you again, Eruhaben-nim.”
“Ho!” Eruhaben, let out a breath. “I see, you’re still insufferable as always.”
Cale smiled as he sat up. “Thank you for the compliment.”
The gold dragon just shook his head in defeat. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m feeling normal?” Cale thought that Eruhaben would be angrier at him like he had always been whenever he faints, but Eruhaben looked quite serene as if nothing happened. Raon, who would usually be crying at his side, was nowhere in sight.
This calmness was more frightening to Cale for some reason.
Cale would not usually question why he fainted as he was always the main perpetrator for always pushing himself past his limit, but this time he had no clue “What just happened?”
“Is human awake?” Raon peeked his chubby head at the door.
“Huuumaaan!” When the black dragon saw that Cale was already awake, he rushed towards him. Cale prepared himself for the impact when he saw the dragon barreling at him, but before it happened Raon stopped and calmly settled himself on Cales side. On and Hong followed after him.
They were being well behaved?
This is new.
“Are you alright?” On asked. The silver kitten patted her paw at his leg.
He absentmindedly nodded. “Uh. yeah.”
“Thank goodness you’re finally awake Cale-nim.” Rosalyn smiled unusually bright as she came in together with Hannah, who, for some reason, was giving him a knowing smile. Ron held a lemon tea with his usual benign smile, but Cale could feel some killing intent coming from him. Also, why is Beacrox carrying his greatsword? He looks like he was ready to kill someone, even though his expression says that all of these is just a waste of time.
He didn't know why, but for some reason Cale suddenly felt thankful that Choi Han and the others are currently not here to join the fray.
“D-did I do something?” he can’t help but ask.
“Human how can you be so careless! You should have told us sooner! You shouldn’t have been moving out and about and rest! What would we do if something happened to our dongsaeng!”
‘...our what?’ Cale looked at everyone in the room. “What?”
“You didn't know?” Raon squinted at him.
Eruhaben pinched the bridge of his nose from the upcoming headache. “Cale. You’re pregnant.”
Cale blinked as he looked up at Eruhaben as if his brain suddenly stopped working and let out a soft “Oh.”
Meanwhile, on the side of the room, Rosalyn gave Hannah a bag of magic stones from their bet that Cale would be pregnant as they are the two unlucky alphas, who had to suffer from smelling Cale reeking of a certain alpha back then.
"The lady at the bakery said that if you kiss someone long enough, you can get pregnant," Hong said.
"That's not true." On argued. "I always saw that couple, just across our inn, kissing on the cheeks many times but the lady didn't get pregnant."
"That's because it's a kiss on the cheeks. I heard it has to be done on the lips," Hong defended.
"I know, I know! Goldie gramps told me about it! To get pregnant, you need to use the calendar to count your cycle. It needs to be aligned with your mate's rut or heat cycle." Raon proudly said.
"What do you do after counting the cycle?" On asks with profound interest. Cale really hopes that it's just a passing curiosity.
"I was told that there's the process of mating bites when the omega is in their peak, depending on the race, an alpha goes through a possessive phase as the bond forms. That's why pregnancy is a big deal, and it’s a super complicated process,"
It was a topic that children still find hard to comprehend. It was something that they didn't need to know yet. Cale and all the other adults are in a silent agreement that the adults will explain things properly when the time comes.
'... maybe twenty more years for On' Cale thought when he looked at the silver furred cat who was brimming with curiosity.
Cale was still in a bit of trance as he let the rocking chair swing back and forth in a calming rhythm. He was listening to the excitement of the children averaging even years old around him.
He had never thought that he could have a child. Not to mention even carrying one.
As Kim Rok Soo he was a beta. An orphan, abandoned even before he was aware of his parent's identity. Back in his younger days, he had been bullied for not having parents. Childish as it was. Kim Rok Soo used to cry himself to sleep wishing that he had a family of his own.
But as he grew older, being constantly busy with various part-time jobs, trying to keep himself fed each passing day. Then with the world turning upside down when monsters came, he had no time to think of anything else other than trying to survive.
Instead, he had a simple wish. To live comfortably as a slacker.
Even still, there are times where he can’t help looking at his teammates with envy. Those who made a happy family even during those chaotic times made him feel a bit jealous. Still, he knew for a fact that having one was too much of a luxury for someone like him.
As Cale Henituse, he had a family but never really connected with his blood relatives. Being with Raon, On and Hong satiated his longing for a family, and that had been enough for Cale.
There is no doubt that Cale Henituse is an omega. Even still, Cale had long given up the idea of having a child. Not when he was the renowned trash of the counts family. Not with the wars, Cale and his companions had to fight against the white start back then. When the war was over, Cale would be what they would consider a 'faulty' omega by the end of it all.
The stress of running through one battlefield after another. Suffering from the strain of ancient powers clashing when he had yet to gather all elements. The injuries his bodies sustained when he used his ability against the monsters the enemies had summoned. All of it had no doubt weakened his body's function as an omega.
Yet here he was now.
Cale reached out his trembling hand. He was stroking his still slim, solid belly.
It was dizzying as if someone had smacked his head from behind with all force they could muster. At the same time, his heart was beating so fast and for the first time... it's not because of the vitality of the heart.
"... My baby."
Cale slowly closed his eyes and took a deep breath, it helped keep him from shedding tears.
But joy could not be concealed, and excitement did not subside.
"Ron," Cale called, still absent-mindedly caressing his stomach. "Do you think this child would be able to grow up healthy?"
It was just for a moment, but there was a slight tremble in Ron's eyes. He smiled benignly as he answered. "This Ron will make sure to do most that I can to make sure that young master and his child healthy."
Even though he was smiling amiably, Ron had been planning to hunt down that person for daring to touch his puppy young master before they went through proper matrimonial process. but seeing how elated Cale was - so much that he had almost uncharacteristically jumped in joy together with the children upon the news - he had calmed down.
Raon flew to his side "Human! I'll protect our new family member because I am great and mighty! You don't have to worry about a single thing."
"Us too, nya!" On and Hong interjected.
The red cat ready to jump and perch by his lap like he always does but stopped himself halfway when he remembered that Cale was carrying their dongsaeng. Meanwhile, On had settled in rubbing her cat cheeks against his leg.
Cale chuckled at children averaging eleven years old being excited yet cautious around him.
"Young Master, will you let the father know of the news?"
Cale’s let out a disgruntled sound when he recalled the man who was assumed to be the father. The only alpha that he was ever intimately involved with.
'... The father is the only problem.'
It still gives Cale a pleasant shiver whenever he recalls that record. The night when he experienced an omega's actual heat for the first time.
He had been bothered by an unfamiliar sensation prickling at him for days that when it hit him—so very suddenly. Cale was on his way to have tea with him, wanting to complain how utterly terrible he felt at him no less, he found himself pinned to the bed, a large knot buried inside his slick hole, and almost with a mating mark on his neck.
He wanted it. He knew he did. It felt good, letting his omega run wild so suddenly, enticing a mate, flooding the room with his pheromones and seeing that person's face stutter in shock, then dawning comprehension, before his eyes bled red in an Alpha's hungry desire.
"- mine, mine, mine. My mate, My Cale."
Cale found his first heat experience rather enjoyable.
Then, the very next day.
They conversed as if they haven't been rolling in the sheets just a few hours prior. Well... maybe the other did find it a bit awkward, but Cale had to leave in a hurry. He needed to go back as it was a time for harvesting the strawberries, and the children had been looking forward to picking the fruits for weeks. He did not want to disappoint them by postponing it.
Cale said his quick goodbyes and left before the other could bring up about the things that happened.
Sadly, the fruit picking still got postponed. Cale can't do anything about it. Not with Rosalyn and Hannah, who just happen to visit, adamantly telling him to rest in his room until his heat is over.
Now that Ron had mentioned the father. Cale just remembered that he hadn't talked to him since that time.
This is bad. Very bad!
Why is it out of all the people he had to get pregnant with him? Right now, he was the only person who could threaten Cale's wonderful slacker life.
Cale is very tempted just to keep this child a secret. Hiding away in the Eastern continent sounds very enticing. Never leaving the forest of darkness and sending another representative for official business could also work.
But, unfortunately, he didn't make the baby on his own. He at least had the right to know, lest he came asking himself when the news spread. No doubt that Raon had already told the news to everyone close to them. Cale just knew that things would be more troublesome if he came knocking.
He sighed heavily for the first time since the news. "When is Choi Han coming back?"
"He should be back on the fortnight if they rush on their way back," Ron replied.
"Too slow," Cale muttered, tapping his finger against the wooden armrest of the chair. He wanted this to be done and over with as soon as possible. There are many things he needs to prepare for, and the stress is not good for the baby. “Tell Rosalyn to pick them up."
"Also, we should make preparations to go back to the Henituse estate." Cale had a general idea about pregnancy care but not in-depth in regards to pregnant omega's.
Aside from Ron, he doubts that the people around him had any idea what to do. He needed advice from someone more experienced, and Duchess Violan would be the best in terms of experience.
As for the father... He didn’t want to deal with it, but Cale will have to settle it first for the sake of his peace of mind.
Cale drummed his finger against the wooden armrest, a lot of thing running in his mind.
Even if the baby was the result of a one-night accident, being pregnant does not mean that he has to be bound to him. The alpha did manage to stop himself before he gave him a mating bite. He also can't use the baby card to keep Cale from doing what he wants. It's not like he was the one giving birth anyway.
Cale could also get some child support funds when he looks on the brighter side, not that Cale lacked any money to spoil his child rotten, but having more is better. It's not all that bad to let him know about their child.
"Human you're smiling like you're planning to scam someone with the crown prince again!" Raon chimed.
Alberu Crossman is already the Roan Empire’s emperor, but Cale did not bother to correct the seven-year-old dragon.
Cale didn't know if the transportation magic would affect the fetus, but he sure knows that he can't be travelling around for the time being, not if he wants to risk miscarriage.
"I should go see Hyung before we go back to the Henituse estate."
"Alright human!" Raon jumped "But we should make it quick. You need to get plenty of rest according to Goldie gramps!"
Cale nodded as he let the transportation magic work. "I know."
Tasha took a peek towards Alberu who had been sighing all day long.
She had always come to help her nephew in his tasks with managing their empires affairs whenever she could, and she was used to seeing Alberu sighing over the amount of work that needs to be done but not this frequently. Rather, for the first time, there isn’t much work to do recently as Alberu seemed intent to make himself so busy that they already finished two months worth of work.
Making up her mind to ask a question of that had been on her mind since her nephew started his work frenzy, Tasha opened her mouth.
It was just as Alberu was reading through a troublesome document and finished it with a stroke of a disagreement.
“Has anything happened to you lately?”
There was a long pause “...Nothing.”
After receiving the papers from Alberu, who answered flatly, Tasha argued further.
“I don’t think there’s nothing. There’s obviously something wrong with you.”
“It’s really nothing, Aunt,” Alberu assured, but Tasha is no fool to blindly believe his words.
“You haven’t been keeping in contact with young master Cale for a few days.. No weeks, now.” She cut straight to the point, and Tasha knew that she hit the nail in the head when Alberu lightly flinched despite how well he tried to hide it by continuing to read the document silently without batting an eye.
When he was looking down, his long eyelashes were accentuated, and Alberu’s good looks were highlighted. Tasha was not biased just because he was her nephew, but Alberu’s appearance, both as the Roan Kingdom’s emperor and his dark elf form, was so perfect that it looked even more like a contrivance.
It goes without saying that a lot of people were smitten by his looks, but as far as Tasha knew, there was one person who was quite formidable.
How ironic, since that person, out of all the people, was the one whom her dearest nephew had fallen for.
“Has it been almost a month since young master Cale dropped by for a visit? He used to come here twice a week with Raon-nim for snacks. Even then, you two talk to each other through communication device almost every day.”
“Aren’t you worried that something might have happened to the young master?”
Alberu picked up a pen and signed at the bottom of the document. After that, he said with a frown on his face. “I think it’s for the best that we do not see for the time being.”
Did her nephew get rejected?
Although Tasha thought so, Alberu’s reply was something she hadn’t expected at all.
“It’s because something unconscionable was done.”
“O-kay?” Tasha tilted her head “...Unconscionable, by whom?”
“I did, to him.”
“You did, to young master Cale?” Tasha could not think what could have her nephew done to Cale to stress over it like this. But knowing Alberu’s standard of excessive when it comes in that department, she thought that at most Alberu might have kissed Cale or something along the lines.
After a few moments of silence, Alberu let out another heavy sigh. He rubbed his hand across his face looking more exhausted.
“I’m sure young master Cale wouldn't mind too much.” With Cale’s personality, Tasha is sure that he really wouldn’t mind. At most he would just think that it was just an accident or Alberu messing with him. “Have you properly apologised to him?”
“He didn't even give me the chance to.”
“Don’t stress too much. I’m sure Cale is just busy. He did mention about the harvest season last time.”
“... I hope so.”
Just as they were talking the door to his office opened without any notice.
“Greeting to the shining sun of the Roan Empire. It is my greatest honour to speak with the star of the nation.”
“C-Cale!” Alberu jumped when he saw a certain redhead and a black dragon saunter in his office as if they owned the place. He was so surprised that he spilt the ink and made a mess of the stacks of important documents that were now scattered in the floor.
Tasha smiled when she saw that Cale was still the same as always without even the slightest hint of awkwardness. It looks like her nephew was just overthinking things.
“I’m sorry for you to see this mess, young master Cale.” Tasha gave an apologetic smile at Cale for Alberu’s carelessness.
“I don’t mind at all.”
Alberu, in his defence, was not usually this nervous and fidgety. As the Emperor, he had not failed to carry himself with grace and eloquence befitting of royalty. Now is the only exception because he was caught off guard. He was used to Cale’s habit of just randomly dropping by without a word whenever the redhead was bored, but, right now, he just can’t act casual around him like he usually does without preparing his heart.
Not after all of that.
He had been waiting for weeks.To hear even just a single word from Cale. Alberu could always just contact him through video communication, or he could just leave for a while to check on him, but stopped himself because he thought Cale needed time.
“Human stop!” Raon stopped him with a tone of urgency when Cale was about to help Alberu and Tasha to pick up the scattered documents on the floor. “Goldie gramps said that you shouldn’t strain yourself! I’ll do it.”
Cale more than happily let Raon do the job. With just a flick of his magic, the mess of paper quickly became organised and placed back on Alberu’s desk. After it was done Raon proceeded to munch on the basket of cookies set on the coffee table on the side of Alberu’s office.
“Cale, are you alright?”
“Other than not doing some strenuous activities for a while, I’m fine.” Cale shrugs. It was not something new to Alberu as the red-haired omega had always not cared for his well being, one of the main source of Alberu’s - and the other’s - headache, but what surprised him was Cale’s next words.
“I just came here to tell you that I would like to be exempted from participating in any activities as I need to recuperate for a year.”
“Are your injuries from that time still acting up?” Tasha asked in concern. They inspect Cale for any further injuries even though he looked fine. “If you were not feeling well, you should have just told us through the communication device.”
“It’s not something bad,” Cale assures, but neither Alberu nor Tasha believed in his words. Not when Cale had a record of repeated offence when it comes to his well being.
Raon who was busily stuffing himself with cookies while the adults talked, pulled out a communication device. Then, “Human! Smart Rosalyn said that Choi Han, Lock and the other wolf children are already back! Mila and Dodori will also come visit us for lunch. Even goldie gramps said he’d stay with us for the time being!”
As Cale had expected, he was busy spreading the news. Alberu and Tasha, who remained clueless, became more concerned hearing that everyone was gathering.
“You didn't do anything reckless again, did you?" Alberu asks cautiously with a hint of accusation.
“I don’t always cause trouble,” Cale grumbled in annoyance. “Your highness, It looks like we should hurry back.”
“Don’t worry about anything. If something happens, I’ll just ask my instructor-nim for help. ” Alberu sighs. Once again unable to bring up an important topic “Just make sure you recover well. If you need more time just let me know, Hyung will take care of everything for you.”
“Your highness you truly are befitting the title of Roan empires benevolent sun, you know what is best for the peo-”
“Enough.” Alberu stops him with exasperation. "Before you go, can you at least tell me the reason why you have to rest for almost a year?
Raon huffed “Human! You didn’t tell them the most important part!”
"Oh, I almost forgot.” he lied, Cale was hesitating until he was sure that Raon was done setting up the teleportation circle. Cale, by all means, was not trying to run away from any responsibilities that he would shoulder if it was known that he was carrying the child of the emperor. Not at all.
“Hyung,” Cale tried to be as expressionless as possible, but the news of the baby had somehow made a mess of his facial muscles, and he can’t help but smile when he recalls the new life that he was carrying. “I'm pregnant, and you're the father."
Tasha gave them a scandalised look as she dropped everything that she was holding, leaving another set of papers scattered on the floor. She did not just hear that her nephew entirely skipped out on the first base and went for the finish line. Raon was snickering proudly saying something along the line that they are looking forward to meeting their new dongsaeng.
“What!?” The aunt and nephew looked at each other. Both still in utter shock about the news. When the emperor had snapped out of it, both Cale and Raon was already long gone.
“Aunt Tasha. I didn’t hear that wrong, did I?”
“You have some serious explaining to do.”
They both said at the same time as they looked at each other.
After a long silence, it was Tasha’s turn to sigh.
“Why are you still standing around!?” Tasha admonished, “Go chase after him. Now!”
Alberu didn’t need Tasha’s urging as he planned to do that.
Alberu stepped away from his desk in a hurry, cursing when he bumps into a chair and almost trips in the process. The poor knights standing guard on the door and servants were startled when he suddenly demanded them hurry and prepare his horse for travelling. That in turn, received a number of protests that it would be too dangerous for the emperor to travel independently.
Not even a few minutes later, Alberu came back to his office. Realising that he did not have to travel for days on horseback. He had many transportation scrolls and, as a quarter dark elf, he could also use transportation magic. Albeit not as efficient as dragons, but it could still work.
"This is driving me nuts!" he muttered to himself before scrambling to chase after Cale. He left all his duties to the poor servants.
Being the witness of the whole fiasco, Tasha was laughing so hard at the mess Cale turned her nephew into. She had a lot to ask Alberu, but for now, she’d let him go so that the two could have the conversation they both badly needed. For the time being, she should start making wedding preparations.