The call came in the middle of Dina and Kyoi's twitterpatted gabbles about plans for his 36th birthday the coming week. Since Ema frequently called him at work ever since her third trimester began, he didn't think much of it, though there was always the little twinge of anticipation in his gut that it might be an emergency.

That twinge turned into a full out, spasmodic cramp at the sound of her high, pained voice.

"I can't get up, it hurts. The baby's coming."

He turned away from the girls, who had quieted only a modicum on seeing he had a call.

"I'll be right there."

At the look on his face, the girls clammed up.

"Did something happen?" Dani asked.

"Ema's in labor. Have the intern take the rest of my appointments for today."

Thank god they had actually managed to get an intern the past year. It made his life a lot easier, for sure, especially since staying late was even more of a pain since he had a pretty little wife waiting for him at home.

It took all his self control not to drive like a robber from a bank heist all the way, though he did push the speed limit despite the still icy roads of early March. All the while he wondered madly how it had gotten to this point and where the hell was Yusuke. He had been the brother that had sister watching duties, since Ema had developed an intense sense of apprehension of being alone over the past two weeks, which was normal for women nearing their delivery day, but nerve wracking to Masaomi nonetheless as she always woke up and whimpered when he left.

When Yusuke opened the door, pale and terrified, Masaomi nearly lunged at his throat.

"What have you been doing?" he snapped as he pushed past him into their quaint, three bedroom house.

"I had a presentation and an exam," his younger brother's voice sounded as panicked as he felt. "She said she'd be okay—we have to get her to a hospital!"

Masaomi took the stairs three at a time. Somehow, he instinctively knew she was.

And his instincts proved right. He found her curled into a corner of their bedroom, hemmed in by pillows and their thick, fluffy comforter. A high, agonized, keening wail had started up the moment he stepped in.

"Ema," he jumped the space, falling besides her. "I'm here."

She didn't respond, her head ducked down, face flushed and screwed up. He set his hand on her shoulder, and after a few seconds she jerked back with a loud, stomach lurching gasp.

"I-I'm sorry, I can't—it hurts so much, I can't—I didn't mean to let it get this bad, my water just broke and I—"

Another contraction took her, stealing her voice and crunching her in again, squeezing out another tortured wail. He nearly lost it then and there, his nerves skinned and flailing somewhere near the ceiling.

"I'm going to check how dialated you are," he said in a force calm he far but felt.

She said nothing and he reached under the blanket for her legs. The insides of her thighs were moist and slippery and he found her opening easily.

As his fingers went up, spreading out with growing alarm at how wide the space had become, the tips of his fingers hit the hard, soft top of a baby's head.

Oh hell—

"Yusuke!" he barked behind him, even as he gathered his shaking, crying wife in his arms.

"Yeah!" Of course he'd be waiting in the doorway to their bedroom.

"Boil some water, as much as you can."

"Aw hell, you don't mean—"

"NOW!" So much for his forced calm.

Yusuke scampered. Masaomi set her on the bed, where she instantly fell back, clutching the sheets so hard the knuckles and tendons of her fingers shone out white. He gathered the pillows from the floor and set them at the headboard, then pulled her up against them. Blood and water smeared along the sheets after her.

Yanking up a knitted blanket from the floor, he folded it near her rear to catch anymore liquid, even as he yanked her pants and underwear off.

"Good news, sweetling," he told her as he moved. "You aren't going to be pregnant anymore."

"No," she gasped. "I waited too long. I didn't mean to."

"Hush. You've been in an out of the hospital for false labor all month and it embarrassed you, it only makes sense. Just focus on breathing right now."

A contraction had taken her as he spoke, and he wasn't certain she had heard him, as she'd scrunched in as though doing an intense sit up and wasn't breathing.

"Breathe, Ema!"

She gasped and started to pant, whimpers fighting to get past each breath. Her face had reddened with the contraction, then paled quickly as it faded.

She let out a cracking sob. "Oh god, I can't—I can't—"

"Shh, just focus on breathing, you're going to be okay, I'm right here." He opened her trembling legs. "I felt his head, so he should be here any moment."

"Oh god, oh god, oh god—" she broke off with a breathless scream that pushed her back against the pillows.

"Just do what your body is telling you to, Ema. Push, then breathe, push—"

Hell, it was opening. Purpling and opening—this was horrifying. Whoever said birth was beautiful had a seriously sick idea of what qualified as beautiful.

A patch—a little circle of dark, damp hair appeared.

Then vanished back inside.

"I saw his head, Ema, breathe."

She choked instead. He clenched her calves.

"It's okay, Ema, you're doing great—" She cried out and crunched back in, teeth bared. "Push! That's right, you're doing great—I see his head again! Push push!"

The patch of hair got bigger, and this time it didn't vanish when she fell back against the pillows again to pant and shake.

The babe's head played peekaboo like that long enough to get him thinking he should dare the twenty minute trip to the hospital anyways, just in case this was a sign of complications. But then the baby's head crowned completely, round and topped with dark, curly hair. He cupped his hand beneath it, stroking the hair outwards, resisting the temptation to take hold of the tiny head and yank it out.

"He's coming out! His head's half way—push! Push!"

"Oh my god," he heard Yusuke say from the doorway behind him.

Ema gave an almighty scream of effort and pain—the head dropped into his waiting hand, quickly followed by the neck—

And with a rush of fluids and a shriek of agony from Ema, the tiny body slipped out, just like that, into his waiting hands.

Covered in birthing fluids and white birthing cum, blue-purple like a bruise, wrinkled and head coned shape from the force of being pushed through the birth canal, the baby looked straight up at him with dark, wide eyes.

Not a boy as the ultrasounds had said.

The little dark eyes vanished as his firstborn daughter screwed up her wrinkled face and let out a piercing wail, her curled, tiny limbs flailing in distress and her bruised color quickly turning bright red. Miniture, perfectly made fingers curled in and out. Little feet kicked and retracted into the cramped, curled little ball she had been in for so long in her mother's womb.

He heard a body drop hard on the floor behind him, but he couldn't pull his eyes from the little girl in his hands to check on Yusuke.

His little girl.

"Ema," he lifted up the baby to show her. Tears had filled up his eyes so he couldn't quite make out the expression on Ema's face. "It's a girl. We have a daughter."

Ema let out a wan, "Ha. Called it."

Ema had mentioned at the ultrasound her surprise at them finding the baby as a boy, as she had felt so strongly that it would be a girl.

Laughing, crying, he waited for Ema to pull aside her shirt before laying the baby on her bare skin and throwing his doctor's coat over both of them. Then, trembling and breathless, he directed Ema through the afterbirth—pushing out the placenta—and tugged a binder clip from his coat pocket to clamp down the umbilical cord. His little girl's crying had calmed once she heard her mother's heartbeat, and now a cacophony of tiny baby noises, grunts, whines, snuffling, had started up.

"Hello, baby. It's good to see you on the outside," said Ema. "That was traumatic, wasn't it? Yeah, it was for me too. Let's not think about it."

Masaomi couldn't stop himself. Hands and forearms covered in blood, he leaned out from between her legs, right over their daughter, and kissed her hard. Even then he thought he might explode. How could anyone feel this much love and survive?

He wanted to linger there, but his protectiveness rushed back in. They weren't in the clear yet.

"Yusuke, where's that—" he turned to find his redhaired brother out cold on the floor of the doorway. "…water."

With an explosive sigh, he stomped over and kicked his brother awake. Yusuke's eyes nearly bulged out of his head as he looked up at him.

"You're…you're covered in blood…" he croaked.

"And you passed out when a woman giving birth needed you," Masaomi said blandly. "Where's the water?"

"It's on the stove, sorry, I didn't mean—aw hell—"

"Forget it. I need you to call my office and ask for a woman named Dani. Tell her what happened."

But Yusuke had shot up at an especially loud little baby grunt.

"Is…is that…"

Masaomi couldn't help but smile. "Your niece."

He shot to his feet, and for a moment Masaomi was glad he had gotten the bloody blanket and afterbirth out of the way and covered Ema with the comforter. Post birth or not, he didn't need his brothers staring at Ema's privates.

Yusuke zoomed to Ema's side, face cracking wide with joy.

"Don't touch her," Masaomi snapped. "You need to disinfect yourself."

"H-how do I do that? She needs a blanket—it's just your coat—oh my god, she's way prettier than I thought she'd be, not a lumpy bunch of flesh at all! Oh my god, Ema—"

"I said no touching!"

Ema laughed weakly.

Masaomi went towards Yusuke to wake him up from the euphoric sparkles in his eyes, but with one look at Masaomi's bloodied hands and front, Yusuke jumped into action and yanked out his phone.

"I'm calling! I'm calling! Dino, right?"


"Dani, right. Okay."

Everything after that turned into a delirious blur, not unlike Christmas morning. Masaomi cleaned everything up, cut the umbilical cord and gave his daughter her first bath in the cooled, boiled water (she didn't like that at all, she wanted her mom back), let Yusuke hold her while he helped Ema clean up (their mattress was going to be forever stained by this event), then let Dani in with her bag of supplies to give the baby her tests and the preventive measures to protect Ema and her from all the complications of birth.

"She's beautiful!" Dani squealed at seeing the mewling little girl all bundled up in a proper baby blanket now. "Little brother, there's a scale in the back seat of my car, I need you to go get it."

"Yes, ma'am!" Yusuke all but sprinted out of there, having gone hyper since hearing his little niece's noises.

"Um, Masa…"

"Yes, sweetling?"

"I'm really hungry."

So, as Dani administered to their daughter, he mimicked Yusuke and all but sprinted out of there.

Six pounds and fourteen ounces, declared Dani when Masaomi came back with the best sub sandwich he had ever made and a glass of milk. As Ema ate, Dani went on to report the results of the few tests she had. As far as she could tell, this was one healthy, strong little girl. Once she had administered the eyedrops, she delivered the baby back to her mother's chest and begun instructing Ema on how to nurse. Yusuke turned bright red and backed out of the room at that, and Masaomi followed after him.

"You gonna be okay?" Masaomi asked once they were out in the hall.

"Okay? Are you kidding me? This is the best day ever! Ema's amazing—she just pushed out a human being! And she hasn't passed out yet or anything, she was actually talking, and the baby…" he let out a puff of hair. "She's so cute. I mean, mushed up and still has that coned alien head, but she has all those little fingers and toes—why am I so amazed by fingers and toes?"

Masaomi threw back his head and laughed, long and hard.

He was a father now. A real one, to a daughter nonetheless. And to think, he thought this day would never come.

Though his happiness got interrupted when his door proceeded to be visited by brothers, all covered with dangerous outside germs and insisting on seeing Ema and the baby. Apparently, Yusuke had taken a picture of himself and his niece while Masaomi wasn't looking and sent it to them to gloat.

The protective monster inside him arched up with a delighted roar. No one was going to hurt his family. No one.

No one.

Author here! If you liked my story, stick around for more! Also, please check out my published works on Amazon under the pen name T.S. Lowe. ^.^ I'd super appreciate it, and if you like this story, you'll super appreciate it too! :D Thanks for reading guys. It was a lot of fun to write and read your reviews. Hope I get to hear more from you!

And Mark's Mom...way to go at being one of my few readers who isn't between the ages of 15 and 30. :P I feel super legit now. A real adult. O.O