"Kaito, I really don't feel like this is a good idea," Maki said as they entered the casino, looking at the ground to avoid being overwhelmed by the flashing lights. "I'm not feeling well, I think we should go home."
"But we just got here, Maki Roll! You'll be okay, trust me." Kaito turned to his wife, smiling at her, but it did little to soothe her. "If it gets really bad, we'll go, okay?"
"Fine, just for a little while, but then we go straight home," Maki said, placing a hand on her bloated stomach as another wave of nausea hit her. When Kaito had suggested going to the casino to take their minds off the stress this pregnancy had put them under, Maki had agreed at first, but on the way there Maki had been unable to shake the feeling that there was something wrong. Kaito would not be deterred, though, so Maki reluctantly followed Kaito into the casino, avoiding the eyes of everyone there so that she wouldn't have to feel self-conscious about anyone that might be staring at her.
"Alright, let's start off with some slots! Let's have a good night!" Kaito declared, grinning at Maki, who returned the look with a strained smile. Kaito helped Maki into a chair before parking himself in front of a machine, eagerly putting some money into the machine and yanking the lever. A problem immediately arose for Maki, because the spinning icons on the machine made her feel dizzy if she stared at them, so she had to avert her eyes.
"Yes, I won!" Kaito cheered, and Maki looked to see that the amount that Kaito had won was pretty negligible, but she chose not to comment on that because Kaito looked so pleased with himself.
"That's great, Kaito. Can we please go now, I'm feeling sick," Maki said, gripping the sides of the chair so that she could feel stable. Kaito looked back at her with a frown.
"We can't go now, Maki Roll, I've only done one spin! But you do look bad, so let's get you something to drink." Kaito waved down a worker and asked for a glass of water for Maki, and the worker nodded before leaving to fetch it. While this happened, Kaito yanked the lever again, and Maki had to again avert her eyes to escape feeling dizzy. "Damn, lost it!"
"Here you are, ma'am." Maki looked to see the worker offering her a glass of water, which she took gratefully. She took a sip, which helped to settle her stomach a little, to her relief. However, she still couldn't look at the machine without feeling dizzy still, so Maki had to resign herself to looking down at her belly while Kaito had his fun on the slots. Safe to say, Maki was feeling pretty miserable.
"Kaito, can we do something else? I feel dizzy just looking at the slots," Maki finally spoke up after a couple more spins. "You might have better luck somewhere else, anyway." Kaito turned to her, an annoyed look on his face thanks to his losing streak.
"That's what the machine wants you to think! You lose a bit, and then you start winning big! You'll see! Our baby will be so well taken care of!" Kaito turned back to the machine after that, and Maki grumbled about him not even looking at how badly she was doing. All that she could do while Kaito kept playing (and losing) was sip at her water and close her eyes so that her head didn't feel like it was spinning.
"Stupid machine! I'll win this time, I swear!" Kaito groaned, his frustration clear from his voice, and if Maki were feeling more like herself, she would have make some remark about his awful luck. But when she lifted the glass to her lips and no water entered her mouth, Maki felt like swearing along with him.
"Kaito? I need some more water," Maki called out to her husband, but he didn't seem to hear her, he was so involved in trying to win. "Fine, I'll get the damn water myself." With great difficulty, Maki got herself out of the chair and hobbled around the casino, trying to find the bar. She ignored the people looking at her as she leaned on a table to catch her breath. Just as her frustration was growing, she was approached by a worker.
"Excuse me, but are you alright, ma'am?" The worker asked, concern in her eyes.
"Not really, no. I need some water because I'm feeling sick and my stupid husband is too occupied losing all our money to get me some," Maki vented, having to duck her head as a wave of nausea hit her.
"Okay, no problem. If you stay right here, I will come back with some water and then take you back to your husband." Just as the worker was about to leave, she and Maki were alerted to the sound of liquid hitting the floor, and Maki looked down past her belly to see a wet patch on the floor under her. She looked up at the worker, whose wide eyes matched how she was feeling. "Never mind that, I'm going to call an ambulance right now."
The worker ran off, leaving Maki to burst into tears as the situation overwhelmed her. She didn't want to be here, she felt sick, Kaito wasn't tending to her, and now her baby decided it wanted to come now even though her due date was supposed to be a couple of weeks from now.
Just as Maki felt like she was going to start screaming, two different workers came up to her to help her get to the front of the casino so she could get into the ambulance right away when it arrived. Fortunately, she didn't have to wait too long for the ambulance to arrive, and soon she was on her way to the nearest hospital to deliver her baby. On the way, Maki had the horrible realisation that Kaito didn't even know what was happening and could be panicking about her absence right now, but then she recalled how dismissive he had been of her problems tonight and decided she didn't give a fuck. She was about to be in a lot of pain soon, he could come find her all on his own.
Labor was a long and difficult process, and more than once during the process had Maki wished that she had the support of her loving husband to help get her through it, but to her immense frustration, Kaito hadn't even shown up by the time Maki had finally pushed the baby out, the cries of her child a great relief as her struggle ended. After the baby was cleaned up and declared to be healthy, Maki was presented with the child.
"Here's your baby boy! Congratulations!" The nurse holding him said with a huge smile on her face, and Maki, feeling exhausted, took her son and held him gently, tears welling up in her eyes as she looked at the sleeping baby. Seeing him in her arms at this moment, she could barely imagine why she had been so unhappy at the start of her pregnancy.
The moment of tenderness was broken by the sound of a commotion coming from outside the room, and Maki could hear a lot of yelling from a male voice. The ruckus eventually settled down, and the door opened to reveal her dishevelled husband, who rushed to her side as soon as he saw her.
"Maki Roll! I was so worried!" Kaito exclaimed, looking to a point below her and gasping. "Is that… is that our baby?"
"Where have you been?" Maki asked, giving him a glare that make him shrink back.
"I… It took me a while to find the hospital," Kaito replied, looking like a child who knows he's in trouble, which he most certainly was.
"Kaito. I have been here for at least five hours. Where have you been."
"Kaito. Tell me the truth." Kaito took his time to answer, scratching the back of his neck and avoiding Maki's eyes.
"I was still at the slots until I realised you weren't there. I'm really sorry, Maki Roll," Kaito finally said, looking down at the floor.
"So, you mean to tell me that while I was here, giving birth to our son, you were still at the casino until you happened to realise that I was gone?"
"Um, sir, I think I'm going to have to ask you to leave," the nurse, who hadn't left the room, told Kaito, looking nervously between him and Maki, who looked like she was about to start yelling at him.
"Can't I be here for our son?" Kaito asked, frowning at the nurse.
"Kaito, listen to her. I want to strangle you right now," Maki said, and Kaito whipped around, about to protest, but then he saw the intense glare Maki was giving him, and he hung his head in defeat. Kaito left the room, and once the door closed behind him, Maki began to cry, wishing that things had gone differently for their son's birth.
For the first few weeks after Maki and Tatsuo were cleared to go home, things between Maki and Kaito were very strained. Maki refused to talk to Kaito unless she absolutely had to, otherwise she spent all her time with their son. Kaito was forced to sleep on the couch and had to pick up extra shifts at work to make up for all the money that he had lost at the casino, which led to more time that Maki and Kaito were apart. Maki was also starting to feel reluctant to even let Kaito spend time with Tatsuo, despite having let Kaito have a say in his name.
It looked like their marriage was on the rocks and destined to end in divorce, but their friends, who had been watching this happen, finally decided that it was time to intervene.
One day, shortly after Kaito had left for work, Maki was interrupted from playing with Tatsuo by a knock on the door. Picking up her son, Maki went to the door and opened it to see Shuichi and Kaede there, looking very serious.
"What are you two doing here? Did you want to see Tatsuo? A little warning would have been nice," Maki said, looking between the two.
"Actually, we're here to see you, Maki. Can we come in?" Shuichi asked, and after a moment of hesitation, Maki stepped aside to let her friends in, Kaede closing the door behind her. They went into the lounge room, which was a bit of a mess after playing with her son, and Maki put Tatsuo on the floor with one of his toys before she sat down, Kaede and Shuichi following suit.
"So, what's this visit about?" Maki asked, starting to become concerned by how serious her friends looked.
"We need to talk. About you and Kaito, that is," Kaede said, letting her eyes wander to Tatsuo for a second before she looked back at Maki.
"There's nothing to talk about, he made a big mistake and he's paying for it." Maki crossed her arms, challenging them to tell her otherwise.
"I understand that, but it's been almost three weeks now since he missed Tatsuo's birth, and he's been doing everything he can to make up for it," Kaede replied, and Maki stopped herself from speaking when she saw Shuichi shift.
"Maki, Kaito called me last night. He was sobbing about how awful he feels about what he did, and how you're pushing him away because of it. He told me he's expecting you to tell him you want a divorce!" Shuichi said, and Maki found herself unable to look at them, Shuichi especially.
"Maki, don't you think it's time to forgive him? He loves you, and wants nothing but the best for you. Are you going to let this stupid mistake that he made be the end of you and him?" Kaede added, and a silence fell over the room, interrupted only by Tatsuo's happy noises as he played, leaving Maki to think about what her friends had told her. After coming up with her answer, Maki looked up to see Kaede and Shuichi looking at her expectantly.
"You're right. This needs to stop, or our marriage will never recover. It'll be hard, but I have to do it, both for us and for Tatsuo," Maki said, looking at her son, unaware of what was happening around him.
"Oh Maki, I'm so happy for you! I know things will get better!" Kaede cheered, getting up from her seat and going to hug Maki, who reluctantly let it happen, but had a small smile on her face nonetheless. Over Kaede's shoulder, Maki locked eyes with Shuichi, who smiled and gave her a nod.
That night, when Kaito got home, he was surprised to find Maki waiting for him, Tatsuo in her arms.
"Hey, Maki Roll. How's Tatsuo been today?" Kaito asked, and Maki's heart panged at his downtrodden tone. Maki examined his face carefully. There were bags under his eyes, he wasn't smiling, and he looked exhausted. As she looked, his face became one of concern. "Maki, what's wrong?" Maki reached up to her face and, to her surprise, wiped away some tears.
"Kaito, I've been an idiot. I've been treating you like dirt, and now I can see how much I've been hurting you. I'm sorry, Kaito!" Maki blurted, closing the distance between them and hugging her husband, being careful not to squish Tatsuo between them.
"Hey, it's okay, Maki Roll!" Kaito said soothingly, wrapping his arms around his wife and placing a kiss on the top of her head. "I've been stupid, too. I should have listened to you the first time. I'm never going to gamble again, I promise."
"Oh Kaito, what did I do to deserve you?" Maki cried out, burying her face into his shirt.
"It's me who doesn't deserve you, Maki Roll. I'm going to be there for you and Tatsuo, always." Kaito leaned his head on Maki's, silent tears rolling down his relieved face, and the small family stood like that for a while, a confused Tatsuo in the middle of the embrace, letting the healing process begin.