“…Did you ever think we’d have a life like this?” Miko asks quietly, leaning against Ei. They’re resting in bed as they wait for Kokomi to get home, and she’s in a melancholy, reflective mood.
Ei shakes her head.
“Me neither,” Miko admits. “I was smitten with you from the first moment I saw you, of course, but… I never thought I would ever actually have a chance. …And then I lived a short but blissful dream with you.”
Ei takes Miko into her arms and smiles at her sadly.
“I’m sorry for leaving you,” she whispers. “I never should have even considered it.”
Miko nods, but then returns the smile.
“It worked out, in the end,” Miko whispers. “It’s what gave us our family. It hurt, but now I can honestly say I’m glad you left. The things it did to us, the way it twisted our relationship… it could have gone so much worse than it did. But at the end of the day…”
Miko cups her silly, beautiful god’s cheeks with both hands and draws her in for a tender kiss.
“We really do love each other, and how broken we’d become didn’t change that,” the kitsune finishes softly. “And our love saw us through.”
“It did,” Ei agrees. “…My sister used to believe in soulmates. She talked about them all the time, how there’s a perfect person for everyone out there, someone who they’ll fit together with perfectly.”
“That’s not us,” Miko laughs, shaking her head. “We’ve been a mess from the start, and we almost destroyed each other.”
“You’re right,” Ei says. “I’m not my sister — I don’t believe in something as convenient as a soulmate. But Miko…” She brings Miko’s hand up to her mouth and kisses it. “I believe that everything we struggled through to reach the point we’re at now makes our relationship much more special than a ‘perfect’ match could have ever been.”
“Hm, I don’t know about that,” Miko muses. “Being a perfect match would have been wonderful, but… If being ‘soulmates’ would have made Komi mean less to us…”
Ei grimaces, and Miko sees her own horror at that idea reflected in her wife’s eyes.
“I can’t imagine a life without her,” Ei admits. “I’ve come to love her so much, Miko.”
“I have too,” Miko agrees. “And without Komi, we wouldn’t have had Ren.”
Ei and Miko shudder simultaneously, hug tightening.
“…So does this mean you admit your sister was full of shit?” Miko teases, trying to lighten the mood.
“I suppose that sometimes she didn’t have the right answer,” Ei sighs, rolling her eyes. “She never did date… Ah!”
Miko smiles as Ei perks up, eyes flashing with inspiration.
“They say love is a battlefield,” Ei suggests eagerly. “Perhaps that means it fell into my area of expertise rather than hers?”
“How long did it take you to figure out I was asking you out, again?” Miko asks, raising an eyebrow. “I was trying for months, Ei.”
“Well, maybe if you’d asked instead of using flower language…” Ei mumbles.
“I think an expert on love would have been able to figure it out either way, don’t you?” Miko giggles. “I love you dearly, Ei, but you can be remarkably dense. Which of us was it who brought Komi in?”
“…You,” Ei mumbles.
“And which of us realized she wanted to carry a child herself?” Miko continues, grin broadening.
“…You,” Ei mumbles.
“And which of us—” Miko’s cheeks are hurting now from how wide her smile is, but when Ei lets out a groan and slaps a hand over her mouth it’s more than worth it.
“I get it, Miko,” Ei sighs. “I’m an idiot.”
“Not at all,” Miko disagrees, pulling Ei’s hand off of her face and pressing a kiss to her wife’s cheek. “You’re incredibly good at every craft you try… well, except cooking. You’re just not terribly good at anything to do with people, my love.”
“…People are confusing,” Ei admits, turning away. “Why can’t they just say what they’re really thinking? Why do they have to put so many words around things and pretend like they’re feeling something else?”
“It’s hard to expose yourself to the world,” Miko whispers. “Being vulnerable enough to let people see who you really are… I honestly envy how brave you are, Ei. I wish I could live like you do. …Albeit with rather more social grace and less of a tendency to burn down kitchens.”
“You really don’t,” Ei sighs. “It’s… hard, never knowing what the people you’re talking to are feeling, not knowing how you’re supposed to respond. I keep on being myself because I don’t know how else to handle it, not because I’m brave.”
Miko turns Ei’s face to hers and kisses her gently.
“I love you as you,” Miko says softly. “My adorable, awkward god.”
Ei buries her face in Miko’s shoulder, and Miko strokes the back of her head.
“I love you too,” Ei mumbles. “I don’t tell you that enough.”
“Ei, you say it at least once an hour when we’re together,” Miko laughs. “Not that I would object to hearing it more, of course… but you vowed Eternal love to me, did you not? And the same to Komi? As she did to us, and I did for both of you? Do you doubt us?”
“Never!” Ei protests, the look on her face so horrified that Miko can’t contain another burst of laughter.
“And we never doubt you,” Miko says. “We love hearing you say it… but even when you don’t, we know. We could never forget.”
“Even so,” Ei whispers, and Miko smiles sadly as she watches her wife blink back tears. “A part of me is always afraid that this is all a dream, that I’ll wake up and it never happened… or worse, that it did but I lost you all. I know it’s not rational, but—!”
“Oh, Ei,” Miko murmurs, stroking her god’s cheek. “Why haven’t you mentioned this before?”
“…I thought you might think I was being silly,” Ei admits quietly.
“Never,” Miko hisses. “Ei, after everything you’ve been through, being afraid of losing us is so very understandable… and I can’t swear to you that nothing will ever happen to us, as much as I would like to.”
The kitsune pauses to take a deep breath, trying to figure out how to phrase her feelings. Ei deserves absolute honesty from her, but she wants to comfort her, too.
“Accidents happen, and dangers still exist that none of us can predict,” Miko says softly. “But I promise you I will never willingly leave you, and I’m certainly not helpless — and neither is Kokomi. We’d both fight to the very last to return to your side, no matter what happened. And our children…”
Here, Miko smiles proudly.
“Makoto’s not a fighter like you, of course, but they’re certainly not a weakling like your sister was,” Miko boasts. “And Ren will give you a run for your money someday, mark my words. You’re such a battle maniac that I don’t know if she could ever surpass you, but…”
“…She will,” Ei declares with quiet confidence, a wistful look on her face. “I’m sure of it. The divine inheritance of the Raiden Shogun and the Watatsumi Omikami in a single body… I want to see how far it can take her, what heights of martial prowess she can attain.”
“Then we have nothing to worry about,” Miko says. “Between you and Ren, we — and Inazuma — will be in good hands.”
“You’re probably right,” Ei admits. “But…”
“The fear isn’t rational,” Miko whispers, pulling Ei down so that her god’s head is resting on her chest. “Right?”
Ei nods silently just as the door opens.
“…Did I miss something?” Kokomi asks. “You both look so solemn.”
“Ei was just talking about some of her fears,” Miko replies, running her hands through Ei’s hair. “About the idea of losing us.”
Kokomi grimaces and hurries to join them in the bed. She wraps her arms around Ei from the other side and leans against their precious god’s back.
“I’m afraid of that, too,” she admits. “Sometimes… sometimes I have horrible nightmares of fire and death, and they always end with a dark sky and a bright light coming right at me… and I wake up terrified that I’ve lost you all.”
“…The first civil war with Watatsumi Island,” Ei whispers, guilt lacing every word she speaks. “Yashiori Island burned, and so many people died… And then I…”
“The Musou no Hitotachi,” Miko breathes in horrified understanding. “Then Kokomi’s dreams…?”
“Are likely inherited, since she ascended to Orobashi’s former position while bearing a fraction of his will,” Ei says, twisting to look at Kokomi. “Komi, I’m so so—”
“Shush,” Kokomi murmurs, covering Ei’s mouth. “You have nothing to apologize for. You know what you did back then was what you had to do. I may be dreaming about it, but I’m not the one you killed — and my predecessor, whatever his reasons, did start a civil war and subjugate the people of Yashiori Island. I don’t like the dreams, but they’re not your fault, and I won’t have my beloved wife blaming herself for them. Okay?”
Ei nods, though Miko sees doubt in her eyes. Her eyes narrow — she loves Ei dearly, but their beloved god has a bad habit of trying to blame herself for absolutely everything.
“If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s that shitty snake’s,” Miko mutters, drawing a laugh from Kokomi.
“Exactly,” their Divine Priestess agrees. “Blaming yourself for what he did isn’t something I’ll just ignore, okay Ei?”
“…Who am I to disagree with both of my wives?” Ei asks, shaking her head with a resigned smile. “You’re both much more intelligent than I could ever hope to be.”
Miko trades a sad glance with Kokomi. Ei never shows it in front of their children, but she still falls into self-deprecating spirals like this from time to time, despite their best efforts. Helping her through them is never a chore, but seeing her like this does make Miko’s heart hurt, and she’s sure Kokomi feels the same way.
“You’re not stupid, Ei — I could never fight or work the forge like you do,” Kokomi murmurs, nuzzling her cheek against Ei’s.
“Neither could I,” Miko agrees. “And why the hell are you so good at making flower arrangements? You don’t even know what they mean!”
“…I just put them together if they look pretty,” Ei mumbles, blushing and looking away. “That’s how the Kitsune Saiguu told me it works.”
“She lied to your face,” Miko tells her bluntly. “But somehow you make it work. I hate you, she put me through months of training and it didn’t even help me confess to you!”
“I’m sorry,” Ei mumbles, shrinking in on herself.
Kokomi’s giggling, Miko reflects sourly, is an indicator of what a cruel, heartless little divine fish she really is. While it’s a funny memory now, the shy little Miko of the past had agonized for weeks over putting together the perfect confession bouquet based on the flower meanings the Saiguu had taught her, certain it would communicate her feelings because her teacher had told her that the ‘dense little shadow’ she’d fallen in love with was ‘a master of ikebana, somehow’ at the outset of Miko’s own training.
Miko had, reasonably, assumed that this meant Ei knew flower language, and hadn’t had any idea how to take the bemusedly pleased way in which Ei had accepted her first bouquet. The fact that Ei neither accepted her confession nor rejected it had driven Miko to keep trying, bringing her nicer and nicer versions of the same bouquet every single day until Ei’s room looked like a florist’s shop — because of course their sweet, dense god had kept every single bouquet and done her best to keep it alive for as long as possible.
That, of course, had only further confused Miko as to how Ei felt about her and eventually led to Miko running away from her in tears after Ei accepting yet another bouquet with nothing more than a ‘thank you, they’re very nice.’ Ei had found her a few hours later, sheepish and ashamed, and told her she’d asked Makoto what she’d done and been informed of the meanings of the flowers Miko had picked. Then, kneeling, she’d spoken the words Miko hears every time she closes her eyes, the words that had been her lifeline for five hundred long and painful years alone, the words Miko had used to convince herself that Ei would be back:
‘Yae Miko, I may be an idiot who makes you cry… but will you please allow me the honor of loving you in return?’
“You’re still an idiot who makes me cry,” Miko whispers, brushing her lips against Ei’s. “But you’re my idiot who makes me cry.”
“Our idiot who makes you cry,” Kokomi corrects, stealing her own kisses from both Ei and Miko.
“Like she’s never made you cry!” Miko accuses.
“Only happy tears and tears of pain,” Kokomi sniffs, holding her head high.
“P-Pain?” Ei yelps. “Komi, when…?”
“Who exactly put Ren in me?” Kokomi asks archly. “Childbirth was not exactly a pleasant experience, Ei…”
“Oh, right,” Ei says, a sigh of obvious relief escaping her lips. “I thought you meant…”
“You have never hurt me intentionally, and never will,” Kokomi declares, pressing her forehead to Ei’s. “I’m yours, Ei, now and forever.”
“And what am I, then?” Miko complains playfully.
“Ei’s and my pet,” Kokomi says, eyes twinkling. “An extremely cute and fluffy little fox that we love very, very much.”
Miko is caught between wanting to preen at the description of her fox form — it’s true, she’s adorable — and express indignation at being called a pet.
“…Says the fish,” she eventually mumbles, glaring.
“I’m a cute fish, though,” Kokomi replies, smirking at her.
Miko really has no response to that.
It is, after all, very true. Kokomi is exceptionally cute.
So, if Miko can’t come up with a teasing response… Then here, in this room, where the only ones who will see are her wives…
Miko gently takes a hand from both Ei and Kokomi, holding them tightly in hers.
“I love you both,” Miko says quietly. “You have my entire heart. I had thought the day I married you was the happiest of my life, Ei, but the two of you have kept proving me wrong: Makoto’s birth, our renewed vows at our wedding with Komi, Ren’s birth and how happy Makoto was to meet her… You both keep on giving me new happiest memories. I want to be together with you until the sun burns out.”
By the time she’s done speaking Miko is sobbing, barely able to see her wives’ faces through her tears.
“We’ll be together longer than that,” Ei promises, doing nothing about the tears silently streaming down her own face as she squeezes Miko’s hand and takes Kokomi’s free hand in hers. “I’ll carve us out a little world that we can dwell in for all of Eternity. I love you both so much that any words I say would be insufficient, so please, let me show you by giving you my forever.”
“You’re both so dramatic,” Kokomi sniffles. “We swore an oath of Eternal love at our wedding, didn’t we? All of us to all of us… I meant it, you know. Ei, Miko, everything I am is yours, for as long as you’ll have me. An Eternity by your sides is all I could ever wish for.”
The wives all snuggle up closer together, smiling despite their tears.
“I love you,” they all whisper simultaneously.
The bedroom door flies open.
“Mamas, Ren can’t sleep,” Makoto declares, half-dragging their sleepy-looking little sister with them as they approach the bed. “Can we stay with you tonight?”
“Of course you can,” Miko says, wiping away her tears as she turns to beam at their precious children. “You’re always welcome to come cuddle your mamas.”
“Any time,” Kokomi agrees.
“Almost any time,” Ei amends, drawing dirty looks from both of her wives. “What? It’s true!”
“It’s okay Ei-mama, I know what it means when you’ve got the sign up,” Makoto reassures her.
Miko snickers at the expression on Ei’s face as she wraps Ren in a hug. Their daughter snuggles up to Miko immediately, body relaxing.
“Did you have a bad dream?” Miko asks gently.
Ren nods against her chest.
“It’s okay now, your mamas are here,” Miko murmurs as she strokes Ren’s head lovingly. She hums a lullaby, smiling as Ren’s eyes slide shut and her breathing begins to even out into that of sleep.
“Thank you for bringing her here, Makoto,” Kokomi whispers, and Miko’s smile widens when she sees that their other child is cuddled up closely with Kokomi.
“She said she dreamed you were gone,” Makoto whispers. “When you were on your trip the other week, she had a really hard time.”
Miko trades a look with Ei and Kokomi. All three of them going really had been necessary, and it hadn’t been the kind of trip that one takes children on, but…
“We’ll have to figure something out for the next time, then,” Ei whispers. Her long arms snake out and wrap around Kokomi and Miko, allowing her to pull their entire family up against herself.
Miko smiles and nuzzles her head into the side of Ei’s neck.
“We will,” Miko promises. “I’m sure Komi’s already got a couple of dozen ideas.”
“Only sixteen so far,” Kokomi denies, shaking her head.
Miko can’t help it — she breaks into giggles, and feels Ei doing so as well.
“Sixteen’s plenty, I think, Kokomi-mama,” Makoto says.
“Not when it comes to your happiness or Ren’s,” Kokomi murmurs, pressing a kiss to Makoto’s forehead. “I’m sure Ei and Miko would agree.”
“Absolutely,” Ei says, and Miko nods in agreement.
“Thank you, mamas,” Makoto whispers, their own eyes beginning to slip shut. “I love you.”
“And we all love you,” Ei whispers back. “Don’t worry. We’ll never leave you. I promise.”
“So do I,” Kokomi whispers.
“And I,” Miko finishes. “Sweet dreams.”