Disclaimer: InuYasha and all associated unique and magical persons, places, and things, are under the ownership of Rumiko Takahashi and everyone she decides to share with. I'm just borrowing them because I'm a weepy-eyed sap who likes this kind of stuff. Quill claims no monetary gain from the making and/or distribution of this fic. Just an emotional buzz.
For all of that first night, he held them.
They sat together in the dark, soaking in the well-deserved rest and peace; all three of them, snuggled up together on the clean futon as two of them slept and one of them kept vigil. Their small, but well-built, home had been aired out and all its visitors had gone hours ago, leaving the trio to accustom themselves to their newness.
His golden eyes almost glowed as he gazed down at the miracles resting in the safety of his arms. The woman, and the much, much, much smaller -- terrifyingly smaller, breathtakingly smaller -- life bundled up in her arms. They stacked on each other, the little one in her arms, the both of them in his. He held them close, his back against the wall, Tetsusaiga close to hand, his family enclosed in the shielding circle of his body.
He protected them both. Her. . . and their son.
He was only about ten hours old. He didn't even have a name yet; they'd been arguing about it for months, and they still hadn't reached a decision -- although he had the creeping suspicion that she would ultimately get her way. But he figured it was okay in the long run, since the little guy did have his hair, and his eyes, and damn if the poor little thing didn't have his ears, too: soft, folded over pieces of fluff that had caused his mother to coo in pure delight when she'd held him that first time. And then she'd cried, damn her. Because she loved his ears, and she'd been thrilled to see them on their son.
She'd been so happy about the things that had made his life hell when he was a kid.
His eyes turned from the tiny face just peeking from the crook of his mate's arms, to the female in question.
He was in awe of her, and what she'd done today. What she'd gone through and how she'd gone through it. He'd always known she was strong, but this. . . . He couldn't help but marvel at the way she'd handled the ordeal.
The mother of his child.
He'd heard those words before, even said them, his mind slipping over the phrase with the same reflection he gave to jumping into the nearest tree. Only recently, only in the past day -- hell, only in the past few hours -- had he begun to understand the magnitude, the sheer incredulity, of what those words meant.
She nearly glowed in the darkness; motherhood had draped her in a cloak of contentment and peace and, to his eyes, the paleness of her skin seemed almost luminescent. She lay nestled against the red of his firerat like an exquisite pearl on display, one that had been wrought strongly in a sea of trials and heartache, and then dropped into his keeping by some mistake in fate's sleight of hand.
Sometimes, he had a hard time comprehending his life -- that she'd really chosen to be with him, to stay with him, to live her life with him. He'd almost lost her more times than he cared to remember, and without her, he wouldn't have survived all the horrible shit they'd had to endure to get to this place. He'd never really done anything to deserve her, never really had much to offer her, especially considering the home and family she'd left behind. So why should she be here?
But here she was, her body soft and warm and pleasantly heavy and real against his own, and her head tucked securely under his chin. And in her arms, she held undeniable proof: a tiny life currently sleeping as peacefully as his mother.
In the dark of the night, he held them.
The slow, steady rhythm of their breathing was the only sound to reach the attentive prick of his ears, an obscene contrast to the chaos that had dominated the small room so many hours before. It made the tears and sweat and agony that had preceded the mind-boggling entrance of their firstborn child seem almost. . . surreal.
His arms tightened just a little bit, and he shifted -- just enough to reinforce the feel of them against his body.
They'd tried to keep him out while it was happening. They'd told him it wasn't safe.
It's not right, they'd said. It's not the way things are done.
Bah. Like he'd ever done anything the proper way anyway.
It's not clean, they'd said.
No shit. It's a fucking birth.
You can't be in here, they'd tried to tell him.
It'smy mate, and mybaby. I'm staying.
Not that he'd wanted to be in there. Not really.
He'd been fine at first, staying outside, pacing around, fretting but trying to look like he wasn't, annoying the hell out of a peacefully meditating Miroku, who'd already been through this twice (that calm, smug bastard) and trying to ignore Shippou, whose store of life-endangering wise-cracks had seemingly run out, and who wasn't making him feel any better by looking so damn anxious.
But then Kagome had started that moaning. . . .
It hadn't been the good kind of moan, the kind that made his ear twitch and his gut go tight and hot. No, her moaning had been the long, drawn-out, pain-filled kind of moan; it had been mostly soft and resigned and not at all like how he was used to hearing her express pain. If she was in pain, his Kagome was fierce and loud and passionate about it; or if she was mad, or didn't want him to feel guilty, she would just silently endure. But not this time. This time had been an entirely different sort of pain, and it had terrified him.
Kagome was suffering; he could hear it, could almost feel it in the air. And it. . . wasn't. . . stopping. At that point, his entire world had narrowed down to two options: stay outside and destroy the village and everyone in it as a distraction, or go in and suffer with her.
Since destroying the village would have made Kagome extremely unhappy with him, he took the second option. He'd barged right into the room where all the people had holed up around her, ignoring the shocked protests of the village women scattered about. He'd staggered only once, the first time the smells and sounds hit him square in the face, and then plopped himself right down next to her.
His pale, sweating, straining, exhausted Kagome. The other women in the room had continued putting up a fuss, but the old bat and Sango hadn't even flinched, and for that he was grateful. Because of them, after a few final disapproving glances, the other women had settled down -- not that he'd cared. Damn, fucking, overcrowded room; damn, fucking noisy women.
Kagome had just smiled at him (a small, pained curve of her lips) and whispered something about whether he was sure or not.
And so he stayed with her, the whole morning and into the afternoon. The smells hadn't been the most pleasant in the world, but fuck it -- he'd smelled unpleasant smells before and survived. Shouki and decaying bodies weren't exactly wildflowers and ramen. The pain and the torment stuffed into the air of the tiny, overcrowded room had brought rather disturbing memories (memories of his mother, memories of after, when his mother hadn't been there anymore) pushing their way to the front. But he'd stayed, because he couldn't just leave her like that.
Instead, he'd held her.
He'd been pretty much a useless idiot; he'd been scared to shit and completely unable to prevent, ease, or fight off Kagome's pain. And gods, was there pain. Even now, it made him wince to recall: the labored breathing, the groans, the quiet agony that had twisted her features in the most intense moments.
The whole situation had been completely out of his control, and he'd despised his helplessness. It was something he couldn't protect her from, and a part of him -- deep down where no one could see -- died with the realization. Every gasp or contorted face or cry had dealt a small internal blow, leaving him bleeding and raw.
He'd needed to do something, so he'd grasped her hand throughout all those pushy-con-trac-tion things. He'd wiped the sweat from her face with a cloth, and tried to keep the soaked strands of her hair out of her face. He'd done his best not to get in the way, and done his best to let her know he was there. He'd done his best to be strong.
The only things he could do, he'd done.
And after an eternity of helplessness, he'd witnessed the most amazing thing he'd ever seen: his son. . . their son. . . amidst a gush of disturbingly unidentifiable fluids and blood, sliding into Kaede's gnarled-but-stable hands. A tiny little living thing -- all squirming, hesitant movements, and traumatized, messy, glaring face.
To his shock, the miniature being had seemed angry. They'd cleared out all the gunk from his mouth and nose, and the first thing he did was let loose a series of tiny, infuriated screams--loud, high-pitched squalls that bounced off the wooden walls and echoed almost painfully. If the noise was any indication, the kid was fuckingpissed at his sudden and forced upheaval, and he was intent on letting everyone know it. He'd flattened his ears, but couldn't help his smirk.
Oh yeah. Definitely his son.
They'd cleaned him up and given him over, and he'd watched in complete, rapt fascination as the first thing the tiny pup had tried to do was eat. Kagome had been so delighted, even as exhausted as she was, that she'd damn well glowed. All he'd been able to do was sit there on his haunches and stare in dumbfounded wonder at the suckling child that he'd helped create.
She'd tried to get him to touch him, but he'd been hesitant, afraid of somehow harming the fragile-looking thing. He'd ignored her encouragements and kept his distance, content to watch. Watch, and try to figure out how to feel about this new being, this tiny, incredible, confusing creature. Emotions had assaulted him, overwhelmed him, and he'd struggled to understand it all -- the protectiveness, the happiness, the crushing weight of responsibility, the pride and overreaching awe. And the fear. Underlying everything had been the absolute dread that he wouldn't be whatever it was he was supposed to be for this helpless, innocent, invaluable little being.
It had been too much, and he'd forcibly pushed it back, unable to deal with it while there were so many people standing around staring.
In the quiet darkness, his son caught his attention once again as his tiny limbs shifted. Wide golden eyes focused on the small being through the dim, and watched as the miniaturized features squashed up discontentedly and turned to snuffle against Kagome's arm. He found himself enraptured again as the little bump of a nose started working overtime, sniffing at the familiar scent of his mother.
He couldn't help the grin that turned the corners of his mouth up. A subtle shift of his body, and he was able to move his hand up to his son's head, running careful fingers over the silver tufts of hair and the tiny appendages at the top of his head. The little one gave a tiny start, as if he hadn't been expecting the touch. The small nose wiggled again, seeking out the new scent.
Wonder invaded once again, near-devastating in its brilliance, near-paralyzing in its terror. His grin faded as an alarming sensation of warmth spread through his entire body. He tried to swallow but his throat had closed off.
Obligingly, he dragged his fingers down over his son's tiny features, his touch overly cautious, pressure almost non-existent. His son sniffled for a few moments, and then, to his utter shock, the tiny upper lip curled protectively, and he heard a miniscule, suspicious growl ripple faintly through the air. Tiny golden eyes opened and darted aimlessly around the room, trying to identify the unknown entity that had joined him and his mother.
Apparently, his son didn't quite trust him yet.
His grin came back, full force. The little guy was less than a day old, and he was already trying to protect his mother.
He used the pad of his index finger to tap, ever so softly, against the tip of the infant's nose; his own soft reprimand rumbled strongly through the air. The little one subsided immediately, and the tiny nose started moving again, more inquisitive this time. He held his fingers close and waited for the kid to recognize his scent.
You know me. You've been smelling me for months; I'm all over her.
After another moment, the sniffing stopped, and he heard a tiny, penitent whine. Still grinning, he ran his fingers softly over his features once again. The infant responded with a soft, trusting nuzzle against his palm and another whimper, this one of acceptance and even welcome as he acknowledged his mother's protector.
His heartbeat stirred violently as his chest clutched around a feeling of incredible fullness. For a moment, he thought he was choking, and he found himself fighting off an odd stinging in his eyes as he just sat there, doing more of the idiotic staring he'd been doing for most of the day.
His son didn't seem to find anything extraordinary about what had just happened. The toothless mouth opened in a bored yawn, and the silver-tufted head nuzzled against the lower curve of his mother's breast. Curled, wrinkled fists -- complete with soft pointed nails that would very quickly harden into claws -- flailed around looking for something to grasp.
Kagome stirred, giving a soft sigh as the seeking of her child roused her from sleep. She stared down at him for a moment, then turned gentle eyes up at her mate, smiling when she met his keen, alert gaze. "He's hungry," she whispered.
He nodded slowly. "Yeah." He waited, but she didn't do anything. His brow furrowed as their son started to fuss. "Aren't you going to feed him?"
Her smile widened with some secret that he didn't know about, but he was used to that. These days, she was always smiling as if she knew things he didn't, or couldn't. "Aren't you going to move so I have room?"
He felt the blush warm his cheeks, but just shrugged his shoulders in response. "I don't want to move. Can't you just do it like this?"
She sighed again, though the sound felt pleased to him. "I need help if you're going to hold onto me like this."
"Help?" He didn't know what to think about that. Wasn't this her job? How was he supposed to help?
She shifted just slightly, moving their son in her arms. "Open the yukata, InuYasha. He needs to be able to reach, and I don't have enough room to move around the way we are right now." She didn't sound annoyed, as he would have thought she would be, only patient and expectant. And that 'secret' smile of hers was still playing about her lips as she stared up at him.
He blinked at her skeptically, but at her encouraging nod, obliged her, trailing his fingers up and -- almost reverently -- tugging the yukata loose enough to slip off her shoulder. One breast came exposed, heavy and full, to the chill air of early morning.
The little one knew immediately that a meal was close. He wasted no time in squirming around with an open mouth, trying desperately to latch onto a nipple, and he (his father) watched in speechless wonder for a moment or two. Then, almost without realizing what he was doing, he'd moved his hand once again, cupping gently along the back of his son's head, guiding the seeking mouth to its target. Suckling sounds, along with the occasional grunt or whimper of satisfaction, filled the small room.
Keeping his supporting hand in place, he rested his chin on Kagome's shoulder, and resumed what was becoming his norm of idiotic staring. His son's tiny mouth worked tirelessly at his meal, allowing only the occasional hint of milk to appear at the seems where baby lips met the odd, puckered texture of the skin surrounding the nipple.
The awe was back, filling him up warmth and light and joy. And pride.
Devastating pride. A storm of pride, bursting from the very edges of his soul and thundering through his chest as he watched his son feed at his mate's breast. For the first time in his entire life, he wondered if his father had ever stared at him this way. He wondered if, when he'd stared, he'd felt as overwhelmed by the emotions that churned inside of him, by so many different and conflicting things searching desperately for a way out, but none quite certain how to find the exit.
Then he wondered if he would always feel this way when he looked at his son.
He felt a sly grin nip at his mouth as one emotion finally did find its way to the surface. It occurred to him that he knew exactly what his son was enjoying; he was very familiar with the area in question. It was also not something he would be sharing for too long.
Enjoy it while you can, pup.
He allowed his nostrils to flare and closed his eyes as he took in as many of the scents around them as possible, picking them apart, one by one.
The startlingly fresh smell of a newborn, mostly covered in his mother's scent. Another sniff, and his mouth curved up again. The beginning of his own scent was there as well, just starting to mingle with Kagome's and their child's. The scent of his mate and wife, still mostly exhausted, her unique smell taking on that peculiar maternal scent that went along with the advent of childbirth and the bodily responsibilities of providing for two. The faint sting of salt as Kagome fought off another round of tears -- happy tears, he knew, but tears none-the-less.
He was tempted to roll his eyes then, but decided that it would be pointless. Instead, he opened them so that he could see the miracle taking place on his lap. He shifted around once, to get more comfortable in his position between the futon and the wall, and took more of the combined weight of his wife and son onto himself. Then he went back to watching.
Kagome sighed and let her head fall back onto his chest, sinking back against him. The child at her breast fussed briefly over being disturbed, then settled back to his meal contentedly.
For the rest of the night, he held them.
My very first one shot in the wonderful realm of fan fiction, inspired by a random picture that floated through my head a few days ago. I'm actually kinda proud of it, which is something I didn't really expect. Please enjoy.
And thanks to all my friends who helped me shape this thing up. I'm really grateful for the assist.