It was official - girls took way too much time shopping.
Tachibana Kippei was hard to admit it, but his athletic sister, An, could be so girlie when it came to trying on clothes. And though he'd promised to spend the whole day with her, he could only say "that looks great, yes it's the right color, no it doesn't make your butt look big, no you can not wear that, especially because it makes your breasts look bigger!" so many times before he'd need a breather. So he'd excused himself to wait outside, away from the throes of fashion.
He looked around a bit, and noticed the furniture store across from the store he was outside of was having some kind of "super sale." But what really caught his attention was the beautiful baby cradle displayed in the store's front window.
It made him think.
Some would say the main purpose for all living things was to reproduce. To guarantee a part of them would live forever by the passing on of their genes to future generations. Secure the existence of their species by having children and raising them. It was as natural an instinct as eating and breathing. It was something every insect, fish, reptile, plant, animal - everything - did without a second thought.
Except humans. Only humans had the capacity to decide whether or not they wanted children. Even though it was just as instinctual as in every other creature, people alone took in other factors before making the commitment to reproduce. Only the human race had the ability to say "no, that's not for me."
Tachibana wondered if he was meant for parenthood. He liked children, he was good with them. He'd always been a good role-model and leader. And how proud his parents would be of him, producing a grandchild for them to spoil, carrying on the family name. He would teach his little son or daughter tennis as soon as he or she started walking, and when they were in middle and high school they'd be captain of their team, which would eventually go on to win the nationals. Little Kippei Jr. or An-chan would be so great and smart and beautiful! A parent's dream.
But there would never be a little Kippei Jr. There would never be a son or daughter to teach and be proud of. There would never be that gift to his parents, and they would always be disappointed in him for it. He would never have a child.
Because Tachibana had chosen to spend his life with another man.
The other thing nature hath decreed was that there was no way two beings of the same gender could reproduce. It was simply impossible. And though he'd never really thought about it - not until he saw that cradle - it was a fact he'd accepted a long time ago. He had chosen to sacrifice his future in order to give everything he was to the present.
"You could always adopt."
Tachibana turned when he heard the feminine voice and saw his sister standing beside him. "An.. What do you-"
"I mean, if you're thinking about kids, you could always adopt one. There are hundreds of orphan children in need of a home. And don't give me that look - you've been staring at that cradle for ten minutes without hardly moving."
He blinked at her, then slowly let a soft smile cross his face. "I don't think it's for us... Renji and I. We're too wrapped up in our own life. We wouldn't...have the time to devote..." The smile faded a bit. "It's just not for us."
An stretched up on her tip-toes to plant a kiss on her brother's cheek. "And that's ok too," she said. "As a person, a wonderful, intelligent person, that's a decision you're fully allowed to make."
The smile returned, even brighter, and he took her shopping bags for her in one arm, and linked the other through hers.
Perhaps he wouldn't ever be a father, but maybe someday he could be a proud uncle.
"Can you picture Yanagi-kun as a parent anyway?"
"He'd have the poor child reading Shakespeare before it could even speak."