JE, Silver River, Weaving Maiden

Title: Silver River, Weaving Maiden [Hashimoto/Totsuka, Iwamoto/Sakuma]
Rating/Warnings: PG
Summary: Hashimoto is the worst basket weaver on the planet, literally. Totsuka has to take over.
AN: Hashien universe because Tottsu weaving baskets, yes. The title is from a Chinese story about constellations, so I thought it was fitting.

Silver River, Weaving Maiden

Totsuka sweeps straw and ribbon into a heap for the third day in a row before he finally puts his foot down.

“Okay,” he says, sitting down in the meter-square clean area he’s created. He crosses his legs, getting comfortable, then looks Sakuma in the eye. “I think you’d better teach me instead.”

“Heyyy,” Hashimoto protests, but it’s half-hearted at best. He’s a terrible basket weaver, and his last result probably wouldn’t keep a human baby decently contained, much less the tiny caterpillars that are supposed to hatch from their eggs.

Raising an eyebrow, Totsuka reaches over and flicks Hashimoto’s mess hard, and it collapses into a little pile of wonky circles.

“Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.”

Sakuma is giggling helplessly, although it’s unclear whether it’s because of Hashimoto and Iwamoto’s work, because a human wants to learn infant basket weaving, or because Dr. K had to dose him with some kind of pain medication after training that morning that has Sakuma’s antennae stuck in a loop of pink-yellow-pink.

“Don’t ask him,” grumbles Iwamoto, his own basket just barely in better shape than Hashimoto’s. “He’s a terrible teacher.”

“Your face,” Sakuma laughs, “is a terrible—”

“So, baskets,” Totsuka cuts in smoothly, long practiced at redirecting the attention of rather distractible aliens. He sorts through Hashimoto’s heap at the same time, pushing the ribbons and grasses that look reusable in front of his legs while shuffling the really bent bits off to the side. Honestly he isn’t even sure that they are grasses; Yokoo brings the strangely colored plants from who knows where, and they take a certain amount of drying to make them usable.

“Okay, okay,” Sakuma agrees, amiably unraveling his half a basket so they’re both starting over. He’s using mostly pink plants. Totsuka rejects half of Hashimoto’s obnoxious riot of colors and settles on a more pleasing combination of green and yellow. “The most important thing is pulling the base tight enough. Otherwise the weight of the top will pull it right apart again.”

“Uh-huh,” Totsuka says, trying to watch what Sakuma’s quick fingers are doing. He makes it look so effortless. Totsuka tries to imitate the way Sakuma knots the half-dozen starting pieces together in the center. “Like this?”

“No, like—oops,” Sakuma catches himself halfway through reaching over to correct Totsuka’s hands. He picks up some spare pieces instead and does another starter. “Starting’s the hardest part. Try a couple in a row? We’ll pick the one that looks best.”

Totsuka can hear the murmur of Hashimoto and Iwamoto’s voices behind them, and the impatient shuffling of their wings, but his attention is focused on Sakuma and the plants twisted around his fingers. Sakuma is patient with him, and despite his random bursts of giggling, a much better teacher than advertised. Totsuka isn’t at all surprised when Hashimoto announces he and Iwamoto are going for a walk, tired of being cooped up.

“Be good~,” he sing-songs at Totsuka, leaning over him, making Totsuka snort and Sakuma burst into giggles again. Totsuka leans his head backwards to make a kissy face and asks whatever would Hashimoto do with him if he were good?

The time slips away without Totsuka noticing it passing, and it isn’t until he tries to stand up to get a drink that he realizes his legs are dead asleep and his lower back refuses to straighten. Sakuma saves Totsuka’s nearly finished work from being flattened with a quick grab when Totsuka topples over.

“Maybe a table next time,” Sakuma suggests, using the basket to pat the top of Totsuka’s head. “Anything hurt?”

“Only my dignity,” Totsuka says, wincing as he tries to stretch out flat on his back. “What little of that there ever was.”

Sakuma’s communicator beeps, and he drops the basket start he’s been fixing to check it.

“It’s Hikaru,” Sakuma reports. His lips twitch, antennae flickering in amusement. “He wants to know if we’ve had enough girl time or if he’s supposed to plan a slumber party with Hasshi instead.”

“Go on, I can finish up here,” Totsuka says. “He can send Hasshi home from his playdate.”

Sakuma hops up with much greater ease than Totsuka had, stretching his wings out at the same time as his arms up, sending flecks of rainbow light scattering across the walls of the nest. He scoops up his own pink, glittery basket and wishes Totsuka luck, promising to practice with him again tomorrow or the next day if they didn’t need him especially at training.

“Thank you for teaching me,” Totsuka says politely. Sakuma waves him off and shimmies up the ladder out of the nest as easily as if he’d had both hands free.

Totsuka is just tucking in the last few pieces when Hashimoto comes home, dropping off the ladder halfway down and letting his wings catch enough air to drop him on the ground.

“So, how did it…” Hashimoto trails off, eyes wide, as Totsuka presents his basket for inspection. “You made that?”

“I did,” Totsuka says, tilting it this way and that. It leans to the side a bit, and one side is looser than it should be, but it hasn’t fallen apart in his hands, or Hashimoto’s when he hands it over, and the yellow layers against the green remind Totsuka of Hashimoto’s blond pregnancy hair, already starting to grow out.

“Tottsu is really amazing,” Hashimoto says, voice hushed, his two functional antennae vibrating with emotion. “So…it’s really okay?”

“Hm?” Totsuka brushes bits of grass off of his pants. “What is?”

“That we’re gonna put our kids in here.” Totsuka opens his mouth to answer, but Hashimoto keeps going. “That they’ll be caterpillars. That I laid eggs. Me, all of it.”

Totsuka knows that Hashimoto knows the answer to all of that already, but he looks anxious and uncertain about it anyway, watching for Totsuka’s reassurance. The urge to kiss away all of his questions rises up so fiercely in Totsuka’s chest that he wishes he had wings of his own to wrap around himself to try and keep it inside.

“It’s fine,” Totsuka answers, fisting his hands instead. “It’s perfect. Other people don’t know what they’re missing. Way back on the ship when I found the first packet of sugar in my pocket I thought ‘ahh, here’s the one I want to lay eggs with, for sure.'”

“Tottsu!” Hashimoto laughs. “Don’t be dumb.” But his smile is bright and doting and says he doesn’t think that’s dumb at all. “But you did check out my pouches, though. Don’t lie~.”

“They’re very nice pouches,” Totsuka assures, taking the basket out of Hashimoto’s hands, careful not to brush skin on skin. He sits it out of harm’s way, quite proud himself of his imperfect product. “I have plans for them later.”

“Really?” Hashimoto’s antennae vibrate with a different kind of interest now, going right to pink. He’s been too sore since he laid their eggs, and even before that they’d mostly just cuddled near the end of Hashimoto’s pregnancy once Totsuka’s protective streak kicked into overdrive. For them, it’s been quite a drought.

“Hm, well,” Totsuka fights down the smile, but one corner of his mouth quirks up disobediently, “if you’re very good.”

Hashimoto imitates Totsuka’s kissy face from earlier, lips already going just a bit blue. “Whatever would you do with me if I were good?”

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