It's a spinoff of Soledad. A one-shotter. Probably the most requested one, and certainly the one I was most eager to write. If you haven't read Soledad, then go read it. I spent 30k words tweaking Sess's character in that story to justify his behavior below. So it's important. Also, there is a reference in here to a moment in the beginning of their relationship, where Sesshoumaru didn't tell Sango that she was pregnant. That specific scene is found in the first half of Chapter 13 of Venganza. fyi.
Finally, a quick recap of the end of Soledad to remind you all of a certain unresolved issue between them...
...Sango considered telling him about the side effect that had remained with her from being inside the Shikon no Tama. The one thing that might prove to prolong her life after all, making his fears null and void. She secretly moved her thumb along the skin of her fingers where he'd left small bites.
As anticipated, the wounds were wholly mended. Not even a scratch. And it had only been moments.Should I tell him? she thought, as her eyes rolled back into her head from his advances, her thoughts rapidly scattering. Hn… Maybe later.
Summer night. Sparse clouds. New moon...
It was a mere sliver of light radiating down from the sky, its rays aided by the ghost-like twinkle of a thousand stars... Kaede-baba's entire village was blanketed with a luminescent, ethereal glow that made everything seem other-worldly. Serene… Lunar shadows fluttered about the grass like licking flames, mimicking movements of leaves as they were gently swayed by a warm, floral-scented breeze…
Most of the village was still sleeping, including Rin, Jakken, Kohaku, Shippo...having no awareness of the miracle that was happening in Kaede's hut. Just yards away.
Inuyasha spit a lock of his human black hair from his mouth, as he paced back and forth. He tried to ignore it, but the agitation was contagious. His girlfriend could have soothed him into slumber no doubt, but she was smack dab in the middle of all this business...
Kagome had been preparing herself seven months for this. She'd brought more material through the well in the past month than she ever had…gauzes, towels, sanitizing soaps and solutions, special drinks, medicines…oddly shaped instruments that looked scarier than some weapons he'd seen... He shuddered. Hopefully she wouldn't have to use those on Sango.
She was having a baby, after all.
He shook himself. Weird… Inuyasha couldn't decide what was more surreal. That Sesshoumaru was going to be a father, or that he was going to be an uncle. Both seemed equally unnatural.
Wet noises, and moaning in the distance made him go rigid. His lip twitched, and he swore. Dammit. Still not far away enough… He all but ran to a tree a few yards back, but his leap only brought him half-way up its trunk, and he swore again as he clutched and scrambled at the slick bark like a cat without nails. Gravity won, however. He landed on his butt. "Stupid, useless human form…"
He glared back at Kaede's place, as the sounds of agony got louder. But Inuyasha's apprehensive squeamishness was quickly replaced by outright interest when a muffled shout, ending with a very clipped, 'GET OUT!!' cut across the distance. A terse form immediately followed, stumbling out out of the entrance as though tossed out. Inuyasha blinked confusion.
The demon lord stopped abruptly a few feet away, his shoulders nearly bunched up to his earlobes. He made to go left, then made to go right, then he looked up, saw Inuyasha and veered off at an angle.
Drawn by the prospect of seeing his pompous older brother in any state less than perfect control, Inuyasha was quick to follow.
He didn't have to walk far. Sesshoumaru had stopped right on his audio perimeter of the hut – far enough away to be 'away', but close enough to still hear. By the time Inuyasha reached him, the demon lord's arms were folded uniformly across his chest, his head was bowed, and his eyes were closed.
The stone-faced exterior, and blank expression didn't fool Inuyasha, though. Agitation radiated off of the father-to-be like a bad odor, his white pearlesque hair bristling with a negative aura that even a human could feel. And then there were his hands, which he was trying to hide in the folds of his cloak, clenched into white-knuckled fists…
Inuyasha tried to stand by him in companionable silence, but that lasted all of three seconds. "So...what happened to watching the birth, eh? Couldn't handle it in there?" The second the words left his mouth, he knew he was going to get smacked, or at least pegged with a daggered glare. But to his utmost shock, Sesshoumaru did neither.
After a brief pause, the demon lord's golden eyes opened a sliver, his brow furrowing just the tiniest bit. "She…she doesn't want me in there."
Inuyasha's eyes flung wide at the unprecedented tone of Sesshoumaru's voice. It was anything but confident. Anything but dismissing. As though...as though... Does he…want to…TALK!? Inuyasha resisted the urge to fall over, cleared his throat, and archived his sarcasm for another time. "O…Oh?"
"She accused me of causing her pain. That she didn't want to see my..." his frown deepened, "ugly face." He looked up, visibly distressed. "She's never said that, before."
Inuyasha turned just in time to swallow a guffaw. He'd gone hoarse calling his older brother ugly, but Sango says it once… ONCE! And the jerk takes it to heart, acting for all the world like a kicked puppy. Oh, this was going to be good material for later fights...
He inhaled deeply, and composed himself before turning back. "Feh. She's having a baby," he reasoned, thinking to milk this moment for all it was worth. "All women get crazy when they're having a baby. Besides, it's a pretty undignified position they have to be in. Sango's probably embarrassed." Inuyasha felt increasingly awkward about the subject as Sesshoumaru studied him behind that cursed blank expression of his.
"Why would she be embarrassed? I'm her husband."
Was it a real question? Or just a comment to make him feel stupid? It made him defensive, and when Inuyasha got defensive, he got vulgar. "Feh! I don't know! But if I were the one all stretched out like that, with all my guts and shit and something the size of a melon coming outta my…er…" the hanyou grimaced. He'd just given himself a visual that was about par with being kicked in the nuts. He nearly doubled over, and by the curled lip and crinkled nose of Sesshoumaru's own impassive face, he got the feeling that the detailed comparison wasn't appreciated by him much, either. "Anyhow, there would be no way in hell I'd want anyone watching."
Silence followed. A bit too long for Inuyasha's taste. Was Sesshoumaru still worried? "It's not like you could do anything for her anyways," he added. "Besides, once she has her kids, she'll probably forget about hating you."
Inuyasha blinked. "Doesn't everybody?" It just came out. He tried to don a retroactive smirk, taking a step back. His ass was gonna get whooped for sure. And in his human form, no less...
"You said 'Kids…' So you know she's having twins, then," Sesshoumaru stated.
The hanyou gawked. No beating? He resisted the urge to feel his brother's forehead for a fever. "Of….of course I do. Think I can't hear those heartbeats? My hearing is just as good as…as..." he stopped. His jaw dropped. And he knew. "Don't tell me you never told her!"
Sesshoumaru looked away.
Inuyasha fell over. "Are you kidding me!?"
"She's paranoid enough about just having one. It was better to spare her the worry."
"ARE YOU INSANE!? Are you forgetting how angry she was when you neglected to tell her she was pregnant?"
Sesshoumaru turned his head, his face flushing just the slightest.
Inuyasha went on. "I thought she was going to rip you a new A-hole! That woman was scarier than Naraku!"
"I was never scared of Naraku."
"Maybe not, but you were terrified of Sango! Man. Just when I start to think you might have some common sense you go and do something stupid like—"
A fist in the face shut Inuyasha right up, sending him sprawling several yards back. After 'umphing' in the dirt, he grunted himself into a sitting position, and wiped the blood from his lips. Busted nose. Loose front teeth. Hn. So much for making out with Kagome later on... But at least the damage ain't nothin' that won't heal when the sun comes up.
He looked up. His older brother still had his arms folded, his head bowed, his gaze fixed on the ground... Almost as though he hadn't even moved. Proof that backhanding Inuyasha had been nothing more than reflex. Inuyasha 'hmph'd'. I was wondering how long it'd take him to act normal, again.
Sango's scream cut through the quietude just then like a lightning strike, enough to jolt them both. Inuyasha jumped up, and Sesshoumaru spun around. They looked at the hut. Then looked at each other. Sesshoumaru looked back at the hut, his brow knotted in worry.
"Don't do it…" Inuyasha warned, half-heartedly. "She said she didn't--"
Too late. The demon lord disobeyed his orders outright, and barreled across the path and lunged into the birthing hut. Inuyasha shook his head and blew his bangs out of his eyes.
Kagome's arms moved busily as Sango pushed her guts out, her eyes widening...widening... "...Oh...OH my!"
Sango felt the release like a severed limb. "My baby..." She would have said more, but it still hurt. As though another one was still...
Kaede smiled, her gruff voice surprised with gentle chuckling. "Well, I'll be." A soft whining, yipping sound reached her ears, and Sango's heartbeat nearly stopped.
"What?" Sango cried, trying to catch her breath. "What is it?"
"Well, it's a boy," Kagome laughed, her face a mix of elated astonishment. Sango eagerly held her arms out, and Kagome dutifully lifted the wiggly, puffy-eyed, protesting...
"Oh!" The taiji-ya exclaimed, her jaw dropping to her belly. "A...a puppy!"
Kaede was still chuckling. "Yes, Sango dear. This one seems to have taken his father's youkai form." Her son protested against the open air, reaching out for a womb that no longer encompassed him. His fur seemed feather-fine, even though it was matted against soft baby skin, and his face...his feral, but beautiful face had a hint of humanity in it. She couldn't tell if it was the shape of his eyes, or the way his mouth moved, suggesting that perhaps human speech wouldn't be so difficult after all...
Still in a state of bewildered shock, Sango eagerly held her arms out to hold her firstborn. Her heart felt like it was melting already...at least it did until another tremendous wave of pain hit. She retracted her arms, fisted the sheets at her side, and screamed.
"What is it?" Kaede yelled.
"I think I'm...I'm...oh, this HURTS!"
Kagome gasped, and quickly passed the baby over to Kaede. "Another one," she uttered as she leaned down, her arms fumbling with whatever was going on down there. "Another one. There's another one coming out!"
"SHIT!" Sango cried out as the contraction sent cramping currents all throughout her body. "I didn't know there were TWO of them!" She took a deep breath and screamed. "SESSHOUMARU!"
Heavy footsteps thumped into the room, and she looked up through squinted, wet eyes to behold a shimmering white ball of panic and motion stumble in the room. "Sango!" he breathed. "I'm here!"
She might have laughed at the unmasked worry in his face, had she not wanted to strangle him.
"TWINS!!" the taiji-ya yelled. "You didn't tell me we were going to have...TWINS!" Sango gritted her teeth as another contraction hit.
He went from panicked to ill, and Sango mercifully cut him off before he could even begin. "Forget it!" she barked as the wave bled right into another. "Never mind! I don't even want to HEAR your...stupid...excuse...THIS TIME!"
He looked unbelievably distressed.
"Here, Sesshoumaru," the old woman said, handling him a wrapped and sanitized bundle of baby boy. "Hold your son." Before he could ask, she stuck the warm, wiggly little body in his arms. His eyes flung saucer-wide. Sesshoumaru gasped. A strange sound resounded in his throat. Sango thought she'd never seen so much emotion in his face. He began to stutter. "This is…this is our…"
Another contraction hit. "OOOOOWWWWWW!!!!"
"Push, Sango!" Kagome coaxed. "PUSH!"
"It's coming! It's coming! It's…" a suctioned, wet rubbery sound followed, with an audible release, "It's HERE! I got her! A girl! The second one is a girl!"
"It…is?" Sango squeaked. "A girl?" And this time, it was over. Her body dropped into the post-trauma relaxation as the contractions started to ebb away. All the pain, all the worry, all the anger seemed to melt into some distant oblivion as Kagome placed a crying, slippery, shriveled little infant in her arms.
A humanoid infant.
Sango cradled her, and the tears poured out, flooding down her cheeks in an emotional deluge. She was done. And they were hers. Her babies. Beautiful and perfect. Her heart expanded until she could barely breathe. She laughed a weepy laugh, marvelling at how the nine months of discomfort, and past few hours of excruciating agony suddenly became worth it. She sniffed, and snuggled with her daughter. "Hello there, little one."
The teeny girl's cry matched that of her brother's yipping whine. Oddly, they were the most adorable sounds she'd ever heard.
"They're both so...small..." she uttered over the noise, sniffing her tears back.
"You were that small once, too," Kaede said gruffly, as she helped Kagome prepare the cleaning table for the girl. "As were you, Sesshoumaru."
He looked at the old hag as though she'd just made an absurd assessment. Sango laughed, and then her voice caught as she noticed a little appendage embedded along her daughter's tailbone. "Oh… Why, Sesshoumaru," she said, smiling broadly at her bewildered, stupefied husband. "She…she has a tail."
His brow lifted as he noticed, exhaling in a breathy smile. His following 'Hn', was an ironic sound. He knelt down, awkwardly cradling his crying son in one arm, while he reached a hesitant finger out to touch their teeny daughter's scalp. "And ears."
Sango laughed and nodded. There, pointing straight out of the child's head were a pair of puppy ears. Just like her hanyou uncle.
Kagome and Kaede reverently busied themselves with the cleanup, leaving the new family their moment. Sango watched her husband as his excited gaze bounced back and forth between the twins. The overall tenderness, the gentle, unguarded look in his beautiful eyes, the small bewildered curl of his lips... He was like a boy, all over again. No reticent mask. No gruff exterior. He had finally relaxed.
"I love you."
He looked up from his babies with an expression of pleasant surprise. "Good. I was beginning to think you forgot..."
Clean, at last… Sango tiptoed out of the basin of hot water, and towel-dried her hair. It felt so good to get all that sweat, blood and icky stuff off her body. What an ordeal, giving birth. How on earth did so many survive it? She moved the towel down to her legs, her thighs, back up to her breasts, and winced.
They were sore with a slight engorgement. Kagome had made her nurse the twins right away, saying something about liquid gold. She was apprehensive about nursing her son, but he latched on as naturally as her humanoid daughter. Besides, the discomfort was tolerable. the rest of her…well, it had been one day, and she was completely healed. She felt not even a residual soreness from the double birth. Could have run from here to the taiji village and back, for all the energy she had.
It was the first time she was truly truly grateful for the side effect left over from the Shikon no Tama. The one that made her twice as brave when fighting youkai.
The one she still had to tell her husband about…
Ugh. He's going to kill me... Sango grimaced as she slipped on a nightgown. And after all the heat she'd given him for keeping things from her, too... She wanted to smack herself. I'm such a hypocrite. And I was so mean to him…
But the moodiness that came with pregnancy was over. Thank heavens. She anxiously tied her sash, eager to hold her children again. She'd only been gone minutes, but her desire to be with them was unbelievable. Undeniable. They were such adorable, kissable, huggable, precious little persons...
"My two, little hanyou," she whispered, remembering with a smile how even Inuyasha's face had softened when he saw them, and outright beamed when he noticed the girl's resemblance to him.
He instantly took to referring to the girl as 'Little Me', which elicited a fierce growl from the father. Sango laughed at the memory. They needed to give them names fast, before something like 'Little Me' stuck. They'd narrowed it down to just a few, but the problem was, Sesshoumaru was still hell bent on an old tribal nomenclature, while Sango wanted something more contemporary. Perhaps they could decide now, that things were finally calmed down.
She stepped in her slippers, ignoring the pads, gauze, and funny underwear that Kagome had left for between her legs. As surreal as it was, she just didn't need them.
"I thought you weren't supposed to take a bath, yet."
His voice was so soft, she didn't even jump. Sango turned around and smiled. Sesshoumaru looked a little awe-struck, but still radiant, with his brilliant countenance and tall frame.
"I'll be fine," she reassured. Now that the mood swings were gone, she was genuinely touched by his worrying. "I'll be fine, Sesshoumaru. How are the little ones? I don't hear them crying…"
"They fell asleep. Within minutes of each other."
"They're beautiful, aren't they?"
"I still can't believe we made them."
He walked up to her, and traced his nail lightly along her jaw. His mouth opened to say something, and then he closed it, lifted her chin and kissed her instead.
It was soft, lingering. Sweet. The warm, full-armed embrace that followed felt so good, she wanted to cry. How long had it been since she was able to hug him so closely? To feel him so closely? How she'd missed this part. They both had. She nuzzled her face in his hair, and he bowed his head until it was resting on her shoulder. Locked in each other's arms, the moment seemed endless. He was no longer just her husband. He was the father of her children, and her love for him just literally doubled.
So inebriated by his nearness was she, that Sango failed to notice how his shoulders tensed. She failed to notice how he began to sniff curiously at the air around her. It wasn't until he stiffened outright, and pulled back that she realized he'd picked up on something...
"Your scent…" he said as he frowned confusion at her, his mood changing immediately. "It's…it's not wounded."
Sango gulped, as he grabbed her shoulders firmly and began to sniff at her neck, her bosom... She tried to push him back. "I did just..." he reached her ribs, her belly... "take a bath—ah!"
He'd suddenly dropped to one knee, and stuck his nose right there…
"Sesshoumaru!" she yelped, taking an impulsive step back.
He ignored the tone of her voice and slowly stood to his feet, eyeing her with a cocktail of bewildered suspicion. "I don't understand," he began. "I smell nothing. No blood. No wounds... Just you. Whole. And that's…impossible," he said, not sounding so sure. "It's only been one day. And you're human."
"Uh…" Dangit. She had wanted to tell him on her own terms. Sango looked at her feet, which probably was a mistake.
"What is it?" he said, more confident. More agitated. More accusatory. "I can see it in your face, Sango."
It was time to give up. There was no weaseling her way out of this one. How was she going to phrase it? "Well, uh... The realm of the Shikon no Tama—"
"What about it?"
"It appears that I left there with a permanent memento."
She cowered, grimacing apology. "My body retained its capacity for self-regeneration."
It took him a few seconds to remember, and when he did, his eyes widened dramatically. "You mean…"
"Healing." She grabbed a knife out of his belt before he could stop her, and stabbed her palm. With a choked curse, he yanked the knife back.
"What are you doing!?"
"Just watch." She held her bleeding hand up between them. It took about 30 seconds, but it closed right up. Healed. Perfectly. Sesshoumaru grabbed her hand, studied it, and then stared at her face. Hard.
"Why would you keep something this important from me?"
Funny. Hadn't she been asking him the same thing just the day before? Well, out with it Sango. It's not like he's ever going to leave you. She hesitantly met his intense stare. "You were afraid to let yourself love a human, Sesshoumaru. Remember? The reason you wanted the Shikon no Tama to begin with was to change Rin into a youkai, so that she wouldn't die—"
"I can't believe you didn't tell me!" His voice cracked, and he spun his back to her. If his back was to her, it was because he was hiding his face, which meant he was hiding his expression. Generally a bad sign. Sango continued on in a nervous ramble, wondering how long it was going to take to dig herself out of this hole.
"And I didn't really notice it until after we got sealed, and even then you were so guarded with your feelings. So reserved. I thought that if you could let yourself love me as just a plain old human, that so many of your old prejudices would be done away with… And what we had would be more pure…"
His baritone voice was raw with emotion, coming out in a seething whisper. "An entire year of wondering why it was that I didn't smell decay on you, like other humans… An entire year, Sango! And you had the answer, this whole time!"
There was about five feet between them, and she wasn't about to cross it. "Sesshoumaru… Please…understannmmmph!"
The wind was knocked from her lungs as he whipped around and lifted her off the floor in a suffocating squeeze. With her face imbedded in his neck and his body wrapped completely around her, it took her several moments to realize it wasn't some form of odd punishment, and several more to recover from the shock. Sesshoumaru wasn't furious. He was happy. Flustered as all hell, but happy.
Uneven, shaky panting fluttered against her shoulderblade, as clutching hands twisted the material of her gown. "That means that…that you might…"
"That I might be able to grow old with you," she finished through a constricting throat. "Yes."
She circled her arms around him as much as she was able, and let herself go completely malleable, suspended in the air, until he calmed down. He wouldn't show her his face. She knew he wouldn't. Not until he composed himself. But she felt his emotion. She felt his immense relief. She felt his hope. She felt his love.
And that was enough.