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To Make A Home (Or how the Kuga-Fujino family became four people)

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To Make A Home (Or how the Kuga-Fujino family became four people)

Post by Konaxookami on Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:19 pm

I've never actually written how Keiki was brought into the family, so I decided to finally do that. Yup. So here it is. In the slightly shorter, abridged version that doesn't involve Keiki's godawful uncle. He'll be formally introduced later on. But yeah. Here this is.
--


Natsuki wasn’t sure when Keiki staying in their house changed from ‘temporary’ to ‘permanent’. She couldn’t place the moment that her home became Keiki’s home too.

After Kaito’s perilous last few months inside her, and then the first two years of touch and go-never knowing whether he was going to survive or not-She and Shizuru decided not to try again.

“A family of three. Natsuki, Kaito, and I.” Shizuru had said when they sat down to have the talk about it. Her eyes were sad, but Natsuki had insisted. She didn’t want to make either of them go through what had happened again. Not after nights sleeping in the hospital and nights where there wasn’t any sleep. Not after worrying whether that cough was just him clearing his throat or the beginning of something worse.

So Natsuki had sort of put the idea of another child in the house out of her mind. There was no use dwelling on it when she couldn’t change anything about it.
-
“Hey, Kuga-san your newest case is in. It’s a doozy too-the police called us right away. The kid’s in the hospital.”

“Alright-Hey, Tohru-kun, you drive-I’m gonna read the file on the way over to the hospital.”

When Natsuki read the initial file she felt her heart squeeze in her chest.

A runaway mother left the girl with a single father. He got hit by a car and died when she was almost 3, sending her to her uncle’s house. Her uncle used her as a food ticket from his brother’s savings while ignoring her as much as possible. The police came to the house on a call from the neighbors complaining that they had heard crying from the apartment above. That was when they found the malnourished and broken form of the girl. She was rushed to the hospital soon after arresting her uncle.

When Natsuki walked into the room and saw Keiki for the first time she felt her blood run cold. The girl’s dark hair was cut in jagged lines-The work of simple scissors. She probably did it herself-, her face smudged across with bruises of varying colors. The hospital gown made her look even more impossibly smaller than she already was, and her right arm was splinted.
What hurt the most was to see the 4 year olds hollow eyes staring at the sheets covering her legs.

It took all of her control not to run back to the police station and beat the living crap out of the man who had done this to this little girl. She smiled instead, taking soft steps towards the girl.
“Hey there Keiki-chan,” she kept her voice soft and the girl looked up, fear in her light eyes. Natsuki followed the trail of her eyes to Tohru, who had followed her in, and turned to him, “Tohru-kun, could you go get the facts from the doctors?”

“Sure thing, Kuga-san, I’ll get right on it!”

Once Tohru left Natsuki noticed Keiki’s shoulders slump and she gave the girl a small smile, “Boys scare you huh?” she took the seat beside the bed, “It’s okay though, you know. Tohru-kun wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

When Keiki just averted her eyes she tried again, “My name is Kuga Natsuki. You can just call me Natsuki though, okay? Mmm, Keiki-chan?”

The girl squirmed in her bed, trying not to meet Natsuki’s eyes. Natsuki clasped her hands in her lap and leaned forward a bit, “You don’t have to talk to me Keiki-chan, if you don’t want to. But I’m willing to listen to whatever it is you wanna say, okay?”

“Mmm.”

It was only a sound, accompanied by a small, almost not even there, nod. It was a start.
-
“Natsuki is home late, was work busy?” Shizuru called from the kitchen as Natsuki walked through the door.

“Taidaima. And yeah, I got a new case in today that I was working on,” Natsuki answered, grinning as her son ran over for a hug, “Hey there kiddo-how was school?”

“Okaeri Mama!” Kaito beamed up at his mother, “It was good-Kana and Michi and I got to eat lunch together,” he detangled himself from Natsuki’s arms and scurried over to the kitchen, “Kaa-chan is making teriyaki meat tonight!!”

Natsuki followed her son into the kitchen and her smile broadened at the sight of her wife standing over the counter. Shizuru turned, a bright smile on her face. She closed the distance between the two of them and Natsuki leaned in for a soft peck.

“Okaeri Natsuki,” Shizuru murmured, pulling back from the kiss, “Tell me about work after we eat?”

“Yeah.”
-
“It’s weird, cause the chain of her family tree is all jumbled up. We aren’t really sure what other family she had. I find it hard to believe that her father left her to such a rotten man after all the work he did to try to secure a future for her.”

“It could be that the family just doesn’t want anything to do with her? She was born out of wedlock-some families frown upon that.”

“I guess,” Natsuki leaned back against the cushions of their couch and frowned, “I mean-what makes me upset was that this has been going on for a little over a year and no one did a thing about it. This girl is so scarred that she won’t even talk to anyone. She terrified of men and it just seems like this isn’t going to be an easy case. Who knows if we’ll even be able to get her to testify in front of a grand jury.”

Shizuru placed a light kiss on Natsuki’s cheek, smiling as she did so, “Natsuki will figure it out. You always do after all.”
-
“Hey there Keiki, I brought you something today,” Natsuki greeted, holding up a small bag, “I figured you must be lonely in here at night when I can’t come to visit so I brought you someone to stay with you.”

Keiki tilted her head, her face confused. Natsuki approached her slowly, smiling as she went, “I figured it’d be a good idea for you to have someone who can protect you from any bad things, yeah? Soo…” she pulled a stuffed lion from the bag, “Meet Shi-kun.”

Keiki’s eyes widened as she looked at the stuffed toy, with it’s faux fur mane and embroidered smile. She looked up at Natsuki again, mouth opening, but no words coming out. She pointed to the small animal.

“Yup. He’s yours. He’s a fierce and strong lion who’s gonna protect you from anyone who might try to hurt you,” Natsuki offered the toy to the girl, whose face looked so shocked that Natsuki had to hold back laughter at the sight. It took a moment but the girl finally reached out and took the toy. The moment it was in her hands her face lit up. Her eyes sparkled, her mouth spreading in a smile. She pulled the lion into her chest and pressed her face into the mane.

Natsuki felt her heart soar at the sight. The girl finally looked like a four-year should-cuddling with a beloved toy.

“I’m glad you like it Keiki-chan.”

The small girl nodded, beaming up at her. Natsuki grinned back at her, but was snapped out of the moment by her phone buzzing. She grabbed it from her pocket and flipped it open.
“Kuga speaking…Yeah? Okay-sure-I’ll head right over, bye.”

Natsuki snapped her phone shut and put it back in her pocket. She gave the girl before her a small smile. “Hey, Keiki-chan, I’m really sorry but I got to get going. Someone at work needs me to get something done. But you’ve got Shi-kun so you’ll be okay, yeah?”

The small girl blinked up at Natsuki, bewildered. Natsuki nodded to her and turned, only to stop dead in her tracks.

“Nnn-” Natsuki turned, eyes wide, towards Keiki. The girl’s moth was opening and she seemed to be struggling to use her voice, “T-th-thank you.”

Natsuki’s face broke into a grin and she went back over to Keiki’s side, resisting the urge to ruffle the girl’s hair and pull her into a hug. She settled for placing a hand on her shoulder, giving it a small squeeze.

“You’re very, very welcome, Keiki-chan.”
-
“She spoke?”

“Yeah-After I gave her the lion and said I had to go. I wish I didn’t have to, because I’ve been trying for two weeks to get her to say something more than ‘mmm’ or ‘nnn’. This was the biggest breakthrough we’ve had. Plus she let Tohru-kun stay in the room yesterday.”

Shizuru nodded, looking over at her partner from across the dinner table, “Why did you have to leave? Most of your other cases have been shifted around so that you could focus on her, no?”

“Mfph…We thought we had a breakthrough on a family member that she could go to after this is all over-but it’s looking more and more like no one wants a thing to do to her. Her father’s side of the family is dead besides her uncle-and her mother’s side has made it very clear they don’t acknowledge her in the least. We found her grandmother, but not her mother. The grandmother said no right away.”

Shizuru frowned, “Then after she’s released from the hospital…”

Natsuki nodded, frowning, “Yeah, she’ll either be put in a shelter or a foster home. The shelters aren’t bad but they aren’t good for a girl like her. And I wouldn’t trust a foster home right now-not when there’s no guarantee that she’ll be the only child in the house,” Natsuki heaved a sigh, “I don’t know what to do about the situation. But we’ve at least got another week or so before she’s even close to being discharged from the hospital.”

“Well…we do have room here,” Shizuru mused, “If that is even an option.”

“Here? But…” Natsuki blinked, giving her wife a quizzical look, “In our house? You’d be okay with that?”

Shizuru smiled, carding her hands together and propping her elbows on the table. She rested her chin over her fingers and tilted her head, “I haven’t seen you this fired up about a case in a long time. Not to mention that from what you said, this girl needs a stable environment. We can certainly make sure she’s never alone. Especially if you’re working exclusively with her. At least until you can find a family member to take her.”
-
“So Keiki-chan, how’s your arm doing?” Natsuki asked as she walked into the room, “Ah, so Tohru-kun did bring the crayons for you. I’m glad.”

“Un. Tohru-san got paper too,” Keiki answered, “My arm’s itchy.”

“Yeah well, it was splinted for a while. That’s to be expected,” Natsuki pulled her chair up to the bedside and looked at the drawing, “Is that you and Shi-kun?”

“Mmm! But I made Shi-kun bigger so I could ride on his back,” Keiki nodded, eyes bright.

“Hey, Keiki-chan-I know we promised we were gonna find you a place to stay…but are you sure your Papa never said anything about anyone you could go to?”

Keiki’s face fell and she shrugged, hiding her face behind her stuffed lion, “Papa said to go to baa-san. Then baa-san left too and it was just oji-san.”

“Did he ever talk about your Mama?”

“Mmm. He said. He said that um…that Mama was really pretty, an’ that she didn’t want to leave us, but her mama made her,” Keiki buried her face in the lion’s mane and Natsuki reached out to rub her back.

“I’m sorry Keiki-chan. It’s just been pretty hard to find somewhere for you to stay when they let you out of here,” Natsuki really did feel like crap that they couldn’t get anyone on the other side of this girl’s family to help. She wished she hadn’t said the words when fear tugged at Keiki’s face.

“I don’t have to go back to ojii-san do I?” Her voice was tight and wavered in pitch as she clutched to her toy tightly.

“Oh no Keiki-chan. You don’t ever have to go back to that horrible man,” Natsuki stood to lean over Keiki’s bed, giving the trembling girl a hug. It was a moment before a tiny voice answered her.

“You promise?”

“Promise.”

Keiki’s arms wrapped as far around Natsuki as they could, her toy crushed between them.
-
“Kuga-san, Keiki-san is going to be released from the hospital in three days. We still can’t get in tough with any of her family members. We don’t have anywhere for her to stay during the trial except for…”

“Except for the halfway houses and fosters. No, that’s not going to work. It’s taken so long to get her story out of her, and even longer for her to open up to me an’ Tohru-kun. She needs to be somewhere safe.”

“But we don’t have the resources to-"

“Ahh screw it then. She’s gonna stay with me. We’ve got room in my house, and that just means I can focus on this case until it’s done. Keep working on the family, but as of right now I’ve got it covered.”
-
The most nerve-racking moment was trying to get Keiki into the house. Natsuki had already told her six year old about the girl, about how he had to be gentle and understand that Natsuki-mama had to help her. Shizuru had been preparing Keiki’s room for the past few days, including going out and buying her some new clothes.

Keiki stood outside the door, clutching her lion with one hand, and Natsuki’s with the other. Natsuki knelt next to her and smiled, “This is where I live Keiki-chan. It’s where you’re going to be staying for a while, alright? Come on inside, don’t be shy.”

The small girl nodded, and Natsuki pushed the door open slowly, “Tadaima,” she called into the hall, listening as the pitter patter of her son’s feet came down the hall, with the distinctly quieter steps of her wife. Kaito’s head popped around the corner, curious and confused at the same time. Shizuru fully rounded the corner and smiled.

“Okaeri Natsuki, Keiki-chan.”

“Ta…Tadaima,” Keiki’s voice was soft as she echoed Natsuki’s earlier words. Her courage didn’t last though, as she shuffled behind Natsuki’s legs.

“Hey there kiddo, don’t be shy,” Natsuki knelt, wrapping an arm around Keiki’s shoulders, “This is my family. That’s my wife, Shizuru, and my son Kaito.”

Kaito finally stepped out from the wall, and puffed up his shoulders. He stood ramrod straight and bowed quickly, “It’s nice to meet you!” his words were fast, but his smile was sure. He made a move to come closer, but Shizuru put a hand on his shoulder as she knelt.

She smiled and Natsuki felt her heart flutter at the sight of it. It was gentle and soft-the kind she used around Kaito and his friends. “Hello Keiki-chan. It’s nice to meet you. I hope we can all get along well, mm?”

Keiki blinked owlishly as Natsuki, who nodded. The girl bit her lip, burying the expression in her lion’s mane before waving hesitantly towards the two brunettes.

“Consider yourself at home Keiki-chan.”

The girl peeked up at Natsuki, and then to the other end of the hall before smiling, nodding vigorously.

“Mmm!”
--
It wasn’t until months later that they had finally gotten all the evidence ready to convict Keiki’s uncle to the highest degree. A few nights before the trial was set to begin Natsuki and Shizuru watched their son and young ward playing together on the carpet of the living room from the kitchen.

“Pretty soon they’re going to be asking for kindergarten enrollment at Fuuka Academy,” Shizuru mused, rubbing her fingers over her teacup. Natsuki glanced at her, cocking an eyebrow, “Keiki is going to be eligible to enter this year,” she continued, turning her eyes to the two children giggling on the floor.

“I guess she will be, huh? Though it does depend on whether she’s going to be staying in Fuuka. I mean, commuting between Fuuka Academy for a grade schooler is hard if they don’t live in the city,” Natsuki answered, “If we finally get her family to cooperate she’ll be going to Tokyo.”

There was a spell of silence as Shizuru sipped her tea. The two of them watched as Keiki smiled at Kaito’s impression of a dragon, complete with bed sheet wings. They chuckled as Keiki ‘slew’ the dragon using Shi-kun. Shizuru slipped a hand over one of Natsuki’s.

“Would it be so bad if she stayed with us? She certainly is comfortable here.”

Natsuki didn’t have an answer as she watched her son cover Keiki in the bed sheet he had been using.
--
“I’m Keiki’s nii-san! Why can’t I go to the trial with you guys?”

Arguing with a seven year old was never easy, and it was especially so when it was your own seven year old. But Natsuki held firm.

“You and kaa-san are staying home. If you two come then the defense may start to think we’ve been filling her head with…strange ideas and twisting her memory,” Natsuki explained, examining her suit in the hall mirror for the third time.

“Is that cuz of you and kaa-san being married?”

Natsuki glanced down at her son, who was pouting up at her. She felt her heart melt and she leaned down to ruffle his hair. “Nah, they’re just jealous that we’re all so happy and they aren’t. Don’t worry about it kiddo. You just be here waiting for us when we get back, okay?”

“Okay!”

Her son nodded so vigorously that Natsuki couldn’t help but laugh.

“It looks like Natsuki is ready.”

Natsuki glanced down the hall where her wife stood with a small smile. She returned the smile and looked down to see Keiki in a light blue dress. There was a small clip in her hair to keep her still growing bangs out of her eyes and a plain pair of Mary Janes on her feet.

“Looks like Keiki-chan is too,” Natsuki answered, kneeling, “You ready to go Keiki?”

The small girl shifted back and forth on her feet, tugging at the hem of her dress, “Do I have to?”
Natsuki’s smile faded as she gave a small nod, “’Fraid so kiddo. But once we get it over with, it’ll be over with. It’s only a few days, right?”

Kaito bristled up and scurried out of the foyer, startling everyone else in the room. He returned only a few moments later, his feet loud against the wood. He held Shi-kun in his hands, a determined look upon his face.

“Keiki can bring Shi-kun with her right? So he can protect her, right?” He asked, brows furrowed and shoulders up.

Natsuki smiled, He looks like he’s able to start a fight with that stuffed toy in his hands.
“I don’t see why Keiki can’t bring Shi-kun with her.”

Keiki’s face lit up and Kaito began to beam as he handed his adopted sister her toy.

“Don’t worry Keiki! Kaito-nii and Shizuru-kaa-san are gonna be waiting here for you!” he assured, confident and proud.

Shizuru knelt down and pressed a light kiss on Keiki’s forehead, “We’ll see you soon Keiki-chan. Be good today, alright?”

When Keiki threw her arms around Shizuru’s neck Natsuki felt a surge of something in the pit of her stomach. When Shizuru’s arms wrapped around Keiki’s small body she couldn’t fight the small smile on her face. It certainly felt right.
--
The trial was rough. The three days that Keiki had to appear in court and testify often ended in tears and a shaking girl on the way home. The whole family camped out in the living room together eating sweets and watching movies into the night under blanket forts to ease the stress. They fell asleep on top of each other and when Natsuki woke up on the morning of the final day of the trial she found herself feeling sad that this wasn’t going to happen for much longer.

Keiki’s uncle was found guilty on all sets of charges and sentenced to 15 years in prison-not long enough by Natsuki’s standards-but long enough to keep him away from Keiki for good. Keiki was in the guardianship of the state and the next day Natsuki wasn’t sure what the fate of the small girl clutching her stuffed lion would be.

When she went into the precinct that day, she wasn’t sure what she was going to face. She wasn’t expecting a triumphant looking Tohru.

“Kuga-san! We finally got through to Keiki-san’s family! Her grandmother on her mother’s side is willing to take custody of her. It’s looking like she’s going to be sent to a boarding school and kept away from the family, but she’s going to stay out of the system!”

The words sent a chill down her spine. She knew where that road would lead the innocent girl in her care. It would lead to a bitter and angry teenager without regard for her own life. She had been there.

Wasn’t my reason for getting into this line of work to stop crap like that from happening?

“Tell her grandmother that she won’t be needed. I’m going to adopt her. There’s no reason that I shouldn’t be able to do that. She’s adapted to living here and there’s no way I’m letting all that progress go to waste,” she saw Tohru begin to protest she shook her head, “Forget what I said earlier Tohru-kun. I’m sure about this. Call the grandmother. Tell her we’re sorry we bothered her so much.”
--
“So…I’m your daughter?” Keiki’s voice was small as she sat across the desk from Natsuki, staring at the adoption form with wide eyes.

“Yeah. Me an’ Shizuru are going to be your parents now. But you don’t have to call us ‘kaa-san’ or anything if you don’t want to,” Natsuki explained, “We tried to find your other family members, but…we figured it may be better if…if you stayed with us. If you wanted to.”

Keiki looked up at Natsuki, tears in her eyes, “Mm! I-I wanna stay with Natuski-san an’ Shizuru-san an’ Kaito-nii!”

Natsuki smiled, “Then welcome home Keiki. You’re a Kuga-Fujino now.”
--
Ten years later, as Natsuki watches her two children fight over what they’re watching on TV she smiles. This home wasn’t really a home without Keiki. Or Kaito. Or Shizuru.

Shizuru chuckles at her side, snuggling closer as she calls to her children to play nice or she’ll decide for them. They stop at that, knowing they’ll end up watch a traditional program instead of something entertaining. They settle into the couch, still ribbing each other with their elbows as they settle on a variety show.

Natsuki catches Keiki’s eye and the girl grins sheepishly, caught in her attempts to pry the remote from her brother’s hand. Natsuki smiles, seeing how far the trembling girl with ill cut hair has come and she feels at home. And why shouldn’t she? Her family was together and whole and all was right with the world.

Konaxookami
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