He couldn't believe this was actually happening. Even during the baby's most active moments during the pregnancy, it had still all seemed unreal to him. Now, having contractions every minute or so and acutely aware that this was it – it was going to be born, Vegeta had little choice but to face up to the reality. That didn't mean he had to like it though.
"For fuck's sake, what is it you want?" he grunted down at his stomach, and specifically the baby within it. "Surely you're as pissed off with being in there as I am."
Tipping his head back with a sigh, he glowered at the ceiling before pulling his shirt up and off. It was only going to get in the way very shortly. Looking back down at his stomach seemed to trigger another contraction and a firm kick from the child as well. "Stop that," he barked, seeing the action as wholly unnecessary and done just to spite him. The only reason he was entering into this one sided dialogue was because he was still alone here in the infirmary. He pointed at the weeping slit at the base of his stomach. "It's right there: open, bleeding and everything. Just get out!"
New heights of pain and Vegeta flopped back with a groan, tail lashing spasmodically. "I'm going to kill that thick headed idiot when this is over, whether you like him or not."
Rolling his eyes and gritting his teeth through the next wave of pain, Vegeta resolved himself to stop talking to his stomach. Though, he'd forgive himself quite a lot at this point in time. Labour had had Bulma making weird noises and even stranger facial expressions. However, he was going to maintain his dignity through this birth, even if someone had to die for it.
He'd been in more pain than this on a great many occasions. Hell, he'd died. But oh, he reasoned as he laid his hands gingerly on his stomach, he just wasn't built for this. He was designed to beat seven shades of pain into anyone who caught his attention, and to take the same awesome punishment. Nothing like this, though. Women had broad hips and bones designed to part. He had a partially mutated body that seemed to be peeling open in the most convenient strip it could find, and he hadn't had years to get used to the idea of perhaps having a little person coming out of him some day. The sheer strangeness of all this alone was enough to justify anything he said or did. If he ended up with Goku's guilty parts being squashed in his fist, in fact, he'd point that out.
Though acutely aware of the knife strapped down in his boot, he knew that now wasn't the time for it. Logically it was, as slipping the blade through the last few layers of flesh and subsequently completing the birth canal his body insisted he have would hurry this along. But instinctually he knew that now wasn't the time to use the implement, and that was enough to let his body deal with it naturally.
When Bulma returned with Goku she had been running, but the Saiyan still beat her to the side of the bed. He blanched at the blood and took his mate's hand, obviously lost as to what to do. Vegeta closed his eyes and waved his free hand vaguely. "It's not as bad as it looks."
Seconds later he was glad he'd opened his eyes when he did as he caught sight of Bulma coming at him with a scalpel and a determined expression. "No, put that down right now." A pause as the sharp edge of a contraction passed. "Just let him come."
She gestured with the blade but didn't move it to his flesh. "If you let me cut it you won't tear and this will be over a whole lot quicker."
Goku looked down to him with a face dripping with concern. "Maybe she's right, Vegeta."
He scowled in the absolute negative. "I said no. I'm getting along fine so far. I don't need help." It crossed his mind that Goku might leave at that, and as the pain had dulled considerably since the larger man had appeared at his bedside, he tightened his grip on his hand so he wouldn't go anywhere.
Catching the faintly amused but endlessly concerned look Goku gave him, he mustered up a scowl. "I don't need your help," he repeated, stressing the 'need'. 'Want' was, disconcertingly, another matter.
Of everyone in the room, the woman was the last person I'd have expected to lose her head. To his credit, Kakarrot has sided with me in the opinion that Saiyan bodies are tough and can survive far more than this kid could possibly throw at me. Bulma just doesn't like being in the dark about anything.
Still waving a scalpel and looking psychotic, she has started outright shouting at me. As I can't get up, I think this is quite unfair. And I'll have to wait a while until I can blow up something important in her lab.
Her fringe has started to stick to her forehead with sweat. "Vegeta, get this through your thick skull, you stubborn bastard of a man: If you don't let me cut this baby out, you could very well die on this bed."
I decide to go to staring at the ceiling because that isn't actively pissing me off at the moment. "Look woman, I -"
"Don't say you know what you're doing because none of us could possibly know," she dives in with a screeching tone, "and as the only one here that has already successfully given birth, you should be listening to what I tell you."
On some subconscious level, I hear a quiet 'snap' in my head and fire a glare at her. "No! I don't know what I'm doing but this feels fine, so don't go interfering and fucking things up." I feel Kakarrot run his thumb across my hand, supportive. I forget sometimes how easily that comes to him. "My body seems to have done alright on its own so far, so put the damn knife down and leave me be."
The woman's mouth tightens into a line so firm that the colour leeches out of her lips, but she puts down the scalpel and folds her arms, resigned. Satisfied, I return my gaze to the ceiling tiles as my hand moves down about my stomach to the splitting flesh beneath. Psychologically it feels like a cavern though I know that it can't be more than a few centimeters deep. Within the wound, the ragged edges don't hurt to touch. The pain seems to principally be coming from deeper within, where pressure is building and amniotic fluid is steadily trickling away. I think the separation is nearly deep enough now, and already wide enough to accommodate the child.
"I don't think it'll be long now," I announce flatly, withdrawing my hand and peripherally noting Bulma inspecting the area. She doesn't touch though, to my approval.
Kakarrot squeezes my hand gently to get my attention. "Is it okay to… can I feel it? I mean, would it hurt you?"
I bite down my initial response of not being some freak show subject to be poked and prodded for his own curiosity. I'm his mate, and he is my mate. I appear to have, as Trunks would put it, 'grown' in the last few hours to be able to think such a thing. That talk with Bulma was apparently overdue. "You won't hurt me. Go ahead. Just don't go pulling anything."
Kakarrot looks horrified at the suggestion but hesitantly brings his hand to my stomach, eyes clicking between the split and my face every couple of seconds. He makes contact bang on cue for another contraction, but this feels significantly more like pressure rather than pain and I pass through it silently with a long exhale.
Feeling my muscles twitch and more fluid pass through his fingers, Kakarrot makes a stuttered sound of disbelief. "Wow. Vegeta, this is really it, isn't it?"
Putting my hands against the bed, I force myself up into a more upright position with a hiss. "Seems like it." The new position seems to have helped immensely as I feel the last layers of flesh part, like a bubble reaching capacity and peeling open. "Keep your hand there, Kakarrot."
Bulma looks from him to me, her hand going out for my tense wrist and I feel her fingers seeking the dip to read my pulse. "Are you going to be pushing now? Doesn't seem to have been a lot of pushing going on."
I roll my eyes and bring the list of things to break in her lab after all this up to two items. If I'm still in the mood then. "I'm not shoving the brat out between pieces of bone," I snap between gritted teeth, feeling another contraction beginning to gain force. This is going to be the one.
"Something's happening," Kakarrot alerts us unnecessarily with a note of panic. "I think it's -"
The significant muscles in my stomach clench in a descending band, and I experience the damn weird sensation of something passing out of me. It's not like having an impaled foreign body removed, or even a deep punch withdrawn. This is smoother, more organic. Still fucking painful though. Apparently acting upon some deeply set instinct, I feel Kakarrot's hand press inside me, cradling the baby on its way out. It feels very weird, to say the least.
At the last moment my arms give out from under me and I flop back, closing my eyes with a grunt and feeling my tail curl with a shudder. Then every muscle freezes when I hear it wail, loud and strong. My son. Our son. The first pure blooded Saiyan to be born in decades. The first chance our species has had of continuing in Kakarrot's hands.
"Give him to me." The words come out strangely more as a request than a command. Kakarrot gawks down at the wet bundle curled in his palms for a few more seconds before apparently hearing me and laying him down on my chest. I'm awareof Bulma running the scalpel through the tough cord connecting us, but just barely as my whole world has been suddenly reduced to this one, suddenly silent tiny being. He's hot and slick, dark eyes blinking slowly and black hair lying matted against his back. His tail slaps about feebly and finds my wrist when I lay my hands on him, curling around to anchor immediately. I had purposefully not thought about what this moment would be like. Didn't dare. There was so much that could have gone wrong. I can't believe how perfect he is – every bit a Saiyan, strong and healthy and beautiful.
"Vegeta," Bulma breaks in softly, "let me give him a once over and clean him up, then you can have him back."
It's a huge conscious effort to overcome the impulse that he is mine and that no one else is going to touch him, but I release my grip for her to slip her hands inside mine and lift his slight weight off me. Kakarrot watches as closely as I do as he's carried a few steps away, apparently feeling just as protective.
"He's not too small or anything, is he Bulma?" he asks with a softer note of concern than I would have predicted. Perhaps he's putting some faith in my faith that our son is fine.
His crying is coming in little stutters now as he's cleaned with smooth, efficient hands, and Bulma wraps him in a starkly white blanket. "No, I think he's fine. Certainly complaining a lot." An arch look in my direction. "Definitely your son."
"Shut up woman and bring him back," I snap, shrugging off the hand that touches briefly at my shoulder. I regret doing that pretty much immediately at the line of pain from my gut. It's followed by another contraction. "Isn't that supposed to have stopped now?"
Bulma places the newborn back on my chest before squinting at my stomach. With a gloved hand, I can only assume she runs her fingers along the inside of the tear, which I don't enjoy. "Got a bit more to come, yet."
I blink and am pretty sure my heart stops. "There's not another one in there, is there?"
Kakarrot looks about to faint, which makes me feel infinitely better.
To my relief the woman snorts and straightens. "No, just the placenta. You'll probably pass that on your own in a few minutes. Then I guess your Saiyan healing will kick in, or I'll stitch you up."
I nod, satisfied that the drama has now passed, and return my focus to the child. It doesn't feel right to have him all wrapped up, so I peel away the blanket until his skin is pressed against mine again, the cotton lying atop him to keep him warm. Kakarrot lays his hand atop his head, thumbing the mess of hair and grinning like an idiot. Don't know why he's so proud. I did all the damn work.
"Well brat, guess we need to figure out what to call you now."
Kakarrot nods then apparently sees something happening at my stomach, where I can't see. His grin vanishes and his face twists into a grimace. "Oh, oh Vegeta I wish you could see this. It's absolutely disgusting."
Dimly I hear the very distinct sound of Bulma trying not to laugh. More acutely I tense to kick Kakarrot. "You have ended people's lives, been in day long battles at my side, just watched me give birth and you can't handle afterbirth?"
He fidgets, one hand on the baby and the other coming to touch the back of his neck. "Yeah, but the first bit was nice and special and stuff. This is… well it's gross. It's all dark and slimy and -"
Now I feel nauseous. "Shut up. Stop talking and get out."
Apparently Bulma sees fit to stir some more. "You know, Goku, in some cultures they fry it up and eat it. Good protein."
He blanches noticeably at that and gives me something of a desperate look, bordering on nausea. I bat a hand at him, still looking at the baby on my chest as a means of ignoring the gentler contractions. "Oh, go away and throw up. I'm busy here."
Vegeta had spent the last hour lying and relishing the sensations of having a newborn against his side and a stomach that was almost flat again. There was only some swelling now, and the birth canal had clotted firmly once the afterbirth had come through. He felt surprisingly good. Tired and prone to moments of clarity upon just how strange all this was, but good. This was in part due to the endorphins that had flooded his body just after the birth, a trait seen in humans as well. It mellowed the muscles to encourage rest and enhanced the feelings of love and protection towards the newborn.
The child, still unnamed for the time being, purred quietly against his ribs and arm, nestled snugly as Vegeta ran his slender tail between his fingers in what he guessed was a soothing way. He felt much happier to be out of the Infirmary, and he suspected that junior did too, and certainly content to be left alone for a few hours after Bulma's ferocious order for him to 'rest'. Convincing Goku to leave had been a challenge and Vegeta was surprised he hadn't come back from telling Piccolo already.
The purring suddenly stopped and Vegeta propped himself up a little in concern, peering down at the child. It squeaked softly and turned its face into his side, gumming clumsily at his skin and grousing when nothing happened.
"Oh right. I was wondering when you were going to want to get to that. Alright you, up here then," he murmured, gently scooping the baby up and laying him on his stomach. Reaching a hand up beneath the pillow, he drew out the knife he'd bought for what had previously been an unknown reason and unsheathed it. Pricking the bottom of his stomach, beneath the line of clotting, with the tip of the blade, he guided the child to where a thick mix of milk and blood had begun welling up. He latched and began to drink greedily.
Vegeta brought the knife away and watched, waiting for when the wound would clot and he'd need to make a fresh incision. He felt Goku Instant Transport into the same corner of the room that he had for weeks before he saw him. The larger Saiyan approached the bed with an expression of growing curiosity and concern. "Are you sure that's right? Is that what's supposed to happen?"
A one shouldered shrug so that he wouldn't disturb the feeding infant and Vegeta watched Goku come around the bed and gently rest his weight on it. "I guess so. As far as I know, I'm the first Saiyan male to give birth. I know that newborns are fed a mix of blood and milk, and as that's the only place I seem to be making it…" he trailed off, running his fingers down the child's back when it fidgeted and began squeaking again.
"And the knife?" Goku asked, watching as Vegeta brought the blade to his skin and nicked it just enough to release a pearl of fluid.
"No teeth or claws on him yet," Vegeta replied easily, happy that he could at least supply that answer confidently. "Don't know how long this'll last for, though. Hopefully it won't be too long. This is going to get in the way."
Shifting to lie next to him, Goku propped his head up with an elbow and joined Vegeta in running a finger through the infant's hair. "I don't know, I think this is nice. Good for bonding. I kind of wish that I could do something for him. I mean, you've been so close to him all the way through."
It had happened so much now that Vegeta didn't even notice how at ease he was with Goku anymore. Though the bond wasn't sending through such a large amount of warmth anymore, which he could only assume was because the pregnancy was over, he still found great contentment in his proximity. "I think you'll bond with him plenty. I'm not going to be able to move much for a few days until the hole in my gut heals, if the woman's right, so he's going to need you whilst I'm sleeping all this off."
Goku nodded with a soft sound, quite satisfied with that. He paused in stroking the child to run a hand through Vegeta's hair, causing him to look up. "So, I guess we're like a family now, huh?" he broached softly, unsure of where they stood on that whole point. It hadn't been resolved before the birth, but now Vegeta seemed so peaceful, he hoped that something, somehow, had changed.
Vegeta looked away, finding he couldn't help it. "A big family," he replied eventually. "I think he's bridged our families rather than just made us start a new one. He's got plenty of half brothers to help train him."
The larger Saiyan fell silent as he thought about that, feeling truly happy at the prospect. "Have you thought of what we should call him yet?"
"Why is his name up to me?" Vegeta asked, frowning a little. There was no malice in the words.
Goke felt his cheeks colour a little. "Well, you said you didn't want one starting with 'Go', which had me kind of stumped. So, have you thought of any?"
Vegeta remained quietly thoughtful for so long that Goku began to wonder if he'd said or done something to upset the older man. Bulma had had a quiet word with him that his body chemicals were all over the place right now, so he could go from mellow to wildly emotional even faster than he could have before.
Finally though, Vegeta sighed and glanced up at him before contemplating the child again. "He's a pure Saiyan, and my son. His birthright would have been to the throne of Vegetasai. Very likely he's going to grow to be stronger than either of us."
Goku nodded slightly, seeing what his mate was getting at. "You want him to have a traditional Saiyan name, don't you?"
"Or something close. I don't know. I haven't thought of anything." The infant had stopped feeding as the wound had clotted, and Vegeta took the opportunity to sit the boy up, as if examining him again. "What do you think of Daiki?"
Repeating the name to feel how it sound, Goku hmm'ed to himself. "What does it mean."
"Precious, great, noble."
Goku smiled, perfectly aware that Vegeta hadn't come up with that name just now. "Sounds perfect." He looked to their son, now blinking sleepily. "Hi Daiki, welcome to the world."
"May you have a better life than us all," Vegeta murmured just loud enough to be heard.
Six months ago, Goku would have seen only the bitterness in that wish from Vegeta to his son. But after really getting to know the man, to understand the nature of his emotional shields and mental cul-de-sacs, he saw that his mate had only wished their son to have the very best in life. The prince didn't want Daiki to suffer anything like he had following the loss of Vegetasai and his years of borderline servitude.
This clarity of understand combined with the mated bond put Goku in a position to find great pleasure and comfort in the notion of them staying with each other for as long as was possible. He had loved his wife, and in his own way he was sure Vegeta had loved Bulma. This was something else though – something not formed through thought, reason and emotion. This was blood, instinct and urge. This was Saiyan.
Running a single blunt finger down the side of Vegeta's face, he smiled when the other man didn't show any signs of minding. "I love you."
Vegeta caught his breath in surprise, then felt an alien swell of warmth at the words as Goku's hand made another sweep down his cheek. The affection had been there for some time – almost since they had started sleeping together months ago, though platonically. Heat had only started to rise between them in the last few weeks, and now that Daiki was here and Bulma had given her blessing…
He'd always thought that he'd loved Bulma, Trunks and Bra as much as he thought he was capable of loving anyone. But this child that he had carried and cared for, and with this bond with Goku, everything seemed different. As much faith as he could find in the statement, however, the words were still alien in his mouth and it would be a while before he could get them out without it sound begrudging. "I think," he began hesitantly, an peculiar state for him, "I could say that back."
Goke smiled and kissed the top of his head, knowing that that was the closest he was going to get for the time being. It was significant though. Even if Vegeta couldn't say the words, he could feel love coming back through the bond. There had been a growing trickle before, but now it seemed unrestrained and almost welcomed.
I don't know if the final chapter would have been stronger or weaker had it been written a few years ago when the bulk of this piece was written. I'm glad it's finishing, though, and that I no longer have to keep feeling guilty when I stumble across it again. I hope you enjoyed the story. Thank you for reading.