Publish Date: 7/6/2004 through 7/29/2004
Disclaimer: I don't own Pretear. I just like to play with Hayate's hair! *pets*
The fireball zipped past the Pretear’s head. Himeno grinned, and summoned the power of Wind in cautious retaliation, being careful not to hurt her friend and Leafe Knight. Goh dodged her attack, and threw her a grin and a conspiratorial wink. She laughed and shot off into the sky.
Within the pret, Hayate smiled at her happiness.
After that one time, the incident, they’d opted to forgo training during those…ah, times. It wasn’t at all hard or embarrassing. Himeno would simply say, “I don’t feel like it,” and the case was closed. No one pushed the matter at all after that. And when she gave the go ahead, they’d resume until the next time, about a month later, when she would offer the same excuse.
Of course, Goh had yet to let him hear the end of it, and the younger Knights didn’t quite understand what the problem was just yet. But that was all for the better, Hayate thought.
It had been a long time since the defeat of the Tree of Fenrir, and though it seemed almost silly to continue training when the likelihood of something appearing was almost nonexistent, they continued to train. It wasn’t even work; it was fun, a game for them, and a great chance for everyone to spend some quality time together, in spite of how busy they all were.
Mannen, Hajime, and Shin were no longer quite as young. In fact, Mannen had recently confided in Himeno that he’d had a revolutionary breakthrough, an epiphany that left him dazed and confused.
The revelation? Girls were nice.
But in the several years that had passed since the discovery of the Pretear and the Princess of Disaster, two wonderful things had happened: two weddings. Sasame and Takako, Himeno and Hayate. The former had been a full two years before the latter, but now each couple was happily settled.
In fact, it was at Sasame that Himeno launched her next attack. He retaliated quickly.
Deep within the pret, merged with the soul of his beloved to share her very heart, Hayate didn’t think life could get much better. Although, once again, the pret felt a little odd, he knew it wasn’t…THAT. So he figured perhaps she had a cold or something. Maybe she was getting the flu. His—or rather, her—stomach was twisting into strange knots.
But he could ignore it. To pret with Himeno was bliss.
It is at moments like this, of course, that Murphy’s Law tends to strike. And as everyone knows, Murphy’s Law is a bitch and a half.
Without warning, Himeno touched down on the ground. One of Hajime’s attacks flew over her head, missing her by scant inches, but she didn’t seem to notice. She took a few steps, and staggered. Within her, Hayate felt woozy. He was dizzy, like he’d gone on a merry-go-round one too many times. His head was swimming, and the world suddenly looked like a funhouse mirror.
And when the blackness swallowed her mind, it took him with her.
She—and he along with her—was only unconscious for a moment, but it was long enough for the other Knights to engage in full-fledged panic. Himeno had actually regained consciousness by the time they’d landed, and Hayate awoke with her. However, there was still plenty of wooziness there, and so the Pretear had to have a little help getting to her feet.
It took a few minutes before she was back to normal, and even a little longer to convince the others that she was fine, all was well, could they please resume the training. Somewhat reluctantly, the Knights agreed, and everyone pushed back into the air to resume their practice.
For a while, all was well. The dizziness was gone, and Hayate reasoned that he was right: she was coming down with something. That was why she had passed out. He’d let her finish this training session, and then maybe they needed to make a doctor’s appointment or something.
Suddenly, Himeno froze, hovering in midair. One hand went to her stomach, and the other flew to cover her mouth. Inside her, Hayate was overwhelmed with the most intense feeling of nausea he had ever experienced. And it was coming from her.
With a speed rare even for a Pretear, Himeno shot through an open window into the Awayuki mansion (as they usually did their training on the mansion grounds, safe from the prying eyes of the public), and dashed into the bathroom; the door closed behind her with a slam. The other Leafe Knights followed and waited in the hall, each in varying states of panic over the health of their beloved Pretear.
And then the noise began. The most horrible retching sound any of them had ever heard.
Of course, what they were hearing was nothing compared to what Hayate was feeling.
It was worse than…the incident. It was a million times worse than that. He was sure that if this went on, Himeno was probably going to lose a few internal organs, like some sort of bizarre sacrifice to the Porcelain God she was kneeling to.
His stomach wrenched in time with hers, like it was being twisted into some bizarre balloon animal. It lurched and twisted and clenched and roller coastered for the entire duration of her sudden illness. She was probably kneeling there for a mere couple of minutes. But it felt like hours and hours.
When her stomach had emptied, and the dry heaves had stopped, she flushed the offerings and leaned her head against the white basin, breathing heavily.
His head throbbed, and his stomach was still doing strange dance moves—probably the Macarena, judging from the disgusting way it felt right now. He wished he could pass out again; maybe unconsciousness would make the horrible sensations go away.
A tap on the door, the lightest of knocks, sent the war drums pounding in his ears again. If this was through a pret, and not his real physical self, then…dear gods, poor Himeno! Hayate suddenly had the urge to do something very nice for her—he wasn’t quite sure what just yet. Maybe after she was over the flu or whatever illness had her in its clutches.
The door opened, and Sasame’s head popped in. “Are you okay?”
Suddenly, it seemed, Japanese had become Himeno’s second language. She replied in a strangled whisper by speaking in tongues. “Arghyfk nhl faluilkt ouljf fhgture ldgale…”
Sasame, the Knight of Sound, frowned, and leaned down a little closer. “Come again?” She repeated the exact same phrase, and he shook his head. “Wow, even I can’t understand you.”
“Ughnnnnn…” Himeno moaned, and Hayate, inside the pret, felt the jackhammers starting to pound at the inside of his skull again. Right now, he wanted to go lay down. For Himeno’s sake.
Actually, what he really wanted was to get out of this pret! But he wasn’t quite sure how that would affect Himeno physically at the moment. And so he waited patiently, if painfully, while Sasame carefully scooped her up and started carrying her towards her old bedroom inside the mansion.
Hayate breathed a sigh of relief…which turned into a soft groan when Himeno told Sasame to stop. “Can we go down to the kitchens, please?” she asked. Already, her pallor had returned to its normal color, and she seemed to be feeling better.
Hayate nearly choked. Kitchens? That was where food was prepared! And she had just managed to throw up her entire breakfast. And now she wanted more?!? What the hell was wrong with her?!?
Then he became acutely aware that he was, himself, quite hungry. It wasn’t hungry like his stomach was growling and demanding food. It was more like he had the need to feel a certain taste on his tongue, just for the taste. When he realized what he was actually craving, he began to feel a little sick again.
But, in respect of her wishes, Sasame helped Himeno down to the kitchen—with the rest of the Leafe Knights in tow. The chef was bustling around, preparing something that smelled absolutely divine. He turned a winning smile on his guests and immediately asked what he could get for them.
Hayate felt a blush touch Himeno’s cheeks. “This is going to sound revolting, but I have the most insane craving for ice cream…but could you put some pickles in with it?”
The room went dead silent as everyone stared at her.
Still inside the pret (and, he strongly suspected, totally forgotten), Hayate actually felt his mouth water—an odd sensation, considering that he didn’t possess his own physical mouth at that moment. But he wished the chef would stop standing around and get the damn ice cream with the damn pickles!
A moment later, with the Leafe Knights gathered around to watch in wonder, Himeno was happily munching on a large bowl of chocolate ice cream topped with a healthy serving of pickles. And Hayate was faintly disgusted to realize that it tasted great, for some reason.
Mannen and Hajime, Hayate noticed, were the color of the pickles, and Shin’s face was about the same shade of green as his Knight robes. Goh and Kei didn’t look too much better. Sasame, though, looked thoughtful. Then he suddenly said, “Ah, Himeno? I think we all forgot about poor Hayate. Maybe you should…um, let him out of the pret.”
Comprehension dawned, and Hayate quickly sent a prayer of thanks up to whatever deities might happen to be listening. A moment later, he was safely back in his own form, and he felt the sick feelings quickly subside. But then he looked at the bowl in front of Himeno, and his stomach rolled again.
“Are you okay?” Kei asked sympathetically.
“I’ll survive. But I’m more worried about—“
Sasame had already reached forward and put a hand on Himeno’s forehead. “Himeno…this will sound like a stupid question, but are you feeling all right?”
She frowned. “I do now…”
“I think a doctor’s visit is in order.”
Two days (and several vomiting fits) later, Himeno emerged from the doctor. There was a strange expression on her face. Hayate and Sasame, who had accompanied her, both jumped up and darted over to her. “Well?” Hayate asked. “What did the doctor say?” And why the hell did those pickles taste good?
To his surprise, Himeno threw her arms around him. “Hayate…I’m going to have a baby!”
The Wind Knight’s eyes widened in shock as he processed this declaration.
“We have to get to the mansion! I have to tell otou-san and okaa-sama and Mawata and Mayune and everybody! Come on!” she laughed and darted around him towards the door.
Sasame turned a wry look on his friend and fellow Knight as they followed her outside. “Soooooooo…did you feel that too?”
It was fortunate that they were right in front of a doctor’s office, because Hayate suddenly felt an irrepressible urge to punch Sasame right in the nose.