He recognized that knock. It was cowardly, but he wanted to run and hide. He had nightmares that began with this way. After all, there were only three people who knocked on his door quite like that (Ahhh! There it was again!), and it always harbored some kind of trouble for him. So maybe it was cowardly, but he could try to pretend...
"Aed-san! We know you're there! Open the door!"
Ran winced. Well, he was discovered, so there was really no point in trying to keep hiding. Ignoring the snickering from the other side of the room where Nagi was working on a crossword puzzle, he headed to the door and cautiously opened it. The first thing he saw was Usagi's large blue eyes. Damn, they were really calling out the big guns this time. "Usagi-chan," he hesitantly greeted.
"Ran-niikun," she began, her tone pleading. Mentally he braced himself for the worst. Dear merciful gods, Amaterasu, someone, don't let them be having any more - "This is yours."
He found himself staring eye to eye with an infant's bright blue gaze. Startlingly familiar bright blue eyes at that, framed with tiny wisps of hair that were already a strange shade of deep maroon. "M-Mine?"
"It's Morrigan-neechan," came Duo's voice from somewhere behind Usagi. "She was reborn."
It was a testament to how many times he'd babysat the other two when they were this small that he knew how to take the baby (she couldn't be more than six or seven months old) and hold her gently. "She's not yours?" he finally managed to ask.
Usagi shook her head sharply. "We spotted her on the street, and Hiiro brought her home." She nodded over her shoulder. "Ours are enough for us for now. So, Oneesan is yours and Nagi-kun's." She smiled brightly. "I'm sure Jei-kun won't mind babysitting."
"Doesn't Jei-kun get a say in this?" the Celtic war god's voice asked as he peered around Ran and down at the baby. "She's cute." He rushed to clarify. "Not as cute as your little girl, Usagi, but still cute."
Usagi glanced around. "Where're the twins?" she demanded, her face paling.
Ran felt the blood drain from his face as well. Yes, this was where his nightmares usually started getting really bad. Those twins of theirs were hell on earth. It wouldn't have been so bad - maybe - if they hadn't inherited their parents' powers. The fourth generation of gods certainly had the potential to be the most powerful of them all, even more so than the Elder Gods or maybe even the pixie lady on the Moon. And the over-powered three-year-olds loose... it was the stuff of campfire horror stories.
"Miho!" Duo exclaimed, running off the porch. "The motorcycle is not a toy!"
He almost had to laugh when he heard Schuldig yell, "Get her off my bike!" and come barreling past him. Beside him, Jei shook his head and muttered something about Schuldig being such a dork. In his arms, Morrigan let out a baby sound that seemed to be something between a coo and a snicker.
Hiiro pushed by him and Jei and inside the house. Wordlessly, he made his way down the hall and seized a certain redheaded scamp by the collar and picked him. "Kyo..." he began.
"Papa..." the child countered, seriously unaffected by dangling from the back of his shirt.
"Put the sword back."
"Mine." The child clutched Camulos' sword closer to him.
Ran turned back to Usagi. "I guess we can keep her." Maybe it'll mean a break from babysitting the horror twins. "Just... never have any more children, okay?"
Usagi blushed and stared down at her feet. "Well... About that, Ran-niikun..."
The blood rushed from his face again as dread and horror sat it. "No. No. Please say this is one of Duo's bad jokes. Not another one." His eyes went wider, bulging as he finally took in the noticeable rounding of Usagi's stomach; how had he missed it before? He was going to chalk it up to a healthy dose of denial. "Not another set of twins, please."
The look she turned up on him was a little shy and a lot embarrassed. "The doctors assure us it's only one this time." She turned a smile to Jei. "So... can I count you to help out again, Jei-kun?"
Hiiro started back towards the door, still holding his son by the back of his shirt's collar. He paused, glancing over Nagi's shoulder at the crossword. "28-Down is 'St Valentine's', not 'not my problem'. 32-Right is 'forge' and not 'idiot'."
"Nagi!" Ran exclaimed.
"What?" The Japanese moon god looked entirely too innocent. "I didn't say anything." He looked behind him. "Hiiro, don't you need to make him let go of the sword?"
Hiiro glanced down at the boy - then the gouge along the floor from the sword tip. "Why? Looks like the damage is already done."
A steady litany of "ow ow ow ow" in stereo made Ran turn his head back to the door. Duo and Schuldig were walking back up onto the porch, the German redhead mincing every step, Miho swinging happily between them. Every time she swung back, one foot hit Schuldig in the shin while the other kneecapped her father. A large purple bruise covered Schuldig's cheek; apparently, Miho hadn't come off the motorcycle willingly. The light brown-haired girl smiled sunnily up at Ran. "I'm pretty," she declared.
"Yes, you are," Ran automatically replied. It was best to always agree with the girl; better, at least, than saying something to earn a punch from her. She still hadn't quite gotten her superhuman strength under control. He glanced down at the child in his arms again. "Marie-chan, this is a madhouse."
~ * ~ * ~
Usagi winced. The explosions should have been the first clue, or maybe the loud banging that immediately followed, or maybe the childish scream. She had to hold back the urge to beat her head against something. "Yes, Daisuke?"
Huge purple eyes stared up at her, exuding complete innocence. Suddenly she understood how Rei and the other Inner Senshi had felt once upon a time. "I didn't do it. The dark mousy did it."
She blinked. That was a new excuse. Or maybe she was just used to Kyo and Miho blaming each other. "And who's the dark mousy?" Silence answered her. Well, maybe this could be annoying after all - or maybe just too cute. "Is it Kyo?" He shook his head. "Miho?" Another negative. "Papa? Daddy? Uncle Jei?" All no's. "Is it... Daisuke?"
He ducked his head and looked adorably pitiful up through his deep violet hair. He answered in a small voice, "The dark mousy is sorry, Mama."
It was nearly impossible to resist the sorrowful expression on the three-year-old's face, and Usagi gathered him up in her arms. "It's all right. We'll clean it up before Papa and Daddy get home." Lifting him carefully, she started into the kitchen, only to freeze in the doorway, shocked beyond words at the destruction she saw there. "Umm..."
Her youngest son blinked up at her innocently. "The dark mousy is really sorry, Mama."
~ * ~ * ~
"Remind me again why we thought we wanted to have more children?" Usagi bemoaned, flopping back on the bed she shared with Hiiro and Duo.
Duo had to chuckle at the expression on her face from where he leaned against the closed bedroom door. "I think it was because Dai-chan was a bit of a surprise." He snickered. "I think more of a surprise on Ran-san than us, though."
Hiiro was already crawling in the bed as well. "What did Daisuke do?"
Usagi turned over to let out a loud groan into the bedcovers. "He managed to blow up half the kitchen! Then he blamed it on a 'dark mousy'! It took me half the day to clean it up, even with using my powers!"
Duo's snickering only grew worse, and even Hiiro looked a bit amused. "Which explains why you're calling him Dark now." The Japanese god pulled her up to lay beside him. "So why did Trowa call me and tell me to come get Daisuke before Wufei killed him?"
The moan this time was distinctly embarrassed. "I think Dark inherited part of my powers, with probabilities." She looked up from the covers to mock-glare at Duo. "Not to mention your wings, Duo. Draw your own conclusions."
He winced sharply. "Completely random destruction. Okay. I see your point."
"That might not be a bad thing, though," Hiiro finally stated. Two sets of eyes turned to him, where he was laying on the bed staring up at the ceiling. "I've been hearing rumors of demons rising again."
Duo felt the air leave his body in a rush, his knees giving out from under him as he sank to the floor. "How many?"
Hiiro was silent a moment. Usagi bit her lip in worry, and Duo made his way over to the bed slowly before the Japanese man spoke. "Hundreds. Maybe more." He let out a sigh. "More gods are appearing by the minute as well, though."
"Like the twins?" Usagi thought aloud. "And Dark?"
"We have to start training them now." The two looked up at him, and Duo nodded. "They have to know how to fight. We can't leave them unprepared."
Slowly they nodded their agreement. "They're the first of a new type of gods, after all: the first children born to gods. And I hate to say it," she murmured, "but what if we aren't here when the demons attack again?"
Hiiro nodded. "They have to be prepared. We'll start their training tomorrow."
Silence reigned a moment before Duo cracked, "Gods save the world." Two pillows pelted him.
10 April 2005
Finally! The end of Gods and Other Creatures! After all this time, I was starting to think I'd never finish, but it's done now!
And, everyone, this is my first chapter finished since I've been accepted to the (Good) Fanfiction Webring, so congratulate me please! I'm so happy about this!
See everyone in the sequel, Apotheosis, if I decide to write it. Comments do help its chances of seeing the net.
Now... Back to work on Color of Life. Later!