Standard disclaimers apply
"Look at all this snow!" a clearly excited Yahiko shouted from the dojo yard. He held his hands out, catching the falling flakes and laughing like a small child. Kaoru, Kenshin, and Sano stood on the porch, smiling at their small friend's childish antics, ignoring the biting cold of the slight winter breeze.
Yahiko continued his winterland frolic, kicking the snow into the air. His dark eyes glinted in mischief as he gathered a handful of the icy snow, molding it into a tight ball, then hurling it with impressive accuracy at Sano's chest.
The lanky gangster shielded himself with a shoulder, crying out indignantly, "Hey! Knock that off you little shrimp!" Sano brushed the sloppy mess from his clothing, glaring at Yahiko, "Why don't you go build a snowman or something," he muttered.
Yahiko laughed again and pointed a finger at a very pregnant Kaoru, "We don't need to build a snowman, Sano! All we have to do is put busu there in the middle of the yard, buy one of those stupid western hats, and add a few black buttons to that huge belly of hers!" He extended his arms to illustrate her swelling stomach, giggling wickedly the entire time.
Kaoru's cheeks went red from more than just the cold air, she took a menacing step forward, blue eyes flaring, "Yahiko, if you think I can't whip you, you're sadly…." Her angry shout was abruptly cut off as a snowball exploded against the boy's head, knocking him to the ground with amazing force.
After a moment of stunned silence, Kaoru burst out laughing, steadying herself against one of the porch's support beams, "That was a good one Sano," she laughed, wiping a tear from her eye as she watched Yahiko pick himself up out of snow.
"Wasn't me Jou-chan," Sano replied.
The two of them turned around, catching Kenshin rubbing his snow chilled hands together vigorously. He smiled sheepishly and shrugged, shoving his red hands into his gi. "I think I'll go make some tea now,' he replied softly, giving them his best rurouni grin.
Kaoru smiled at her husband and nodded in agreement, "You better make some extra, I'm sure Yahiko will need it after that roll in the snow." She pushed herself away from the beam, moving slowly. The baby pulled at all her muscles now, making her movements slow and clumsy. She could no longer see her small feet over the looming size of her belly, but their constant ache reminded her they were still there, and standing this long wasn't doing her much good.
Kenshin heard her sigh and moved to her side, offering an arm for her to lean on. "Maybe you should go like down, kioshii. You look tired today."
Kaoru patted her round stomach, "That's a good idea Kenshin. I think I will go lie down and rest." She took his arm and followed him to their room.
Yahiko's cheeks were rosy with cold and he chattered uncontrollably as he sipped the tea before him. "Why'd you hit me so hard," he muttered between chattering teeth, casting Kenshin a glare.
Kenshin just smiled and took a long drink of his tea, his violet eyes twinkling. He did feel slightly guilty for hitting the boy with so much force. He thought back to those snowy days when his master dealt him the same punishment for a disobident tongue, so his actions felt justified.
"Well, squirt," Sano interjected, "You should know better than to pick on Jou-chan like that when daddy here is around." He smirked at Kenshin, clapping him on the back roughly.
Yahiko made a grunting noise into his cup, "He's not a dad yet."
"Close enough, Jou-chan is about to burst!" Sano glanced at Kenshin, who was pouring himself another cup of tea, "Looking at her makes me happy I'm a man! She's got to be miserable!"
Kenshin smiled slightly and took another long drink. He couldn't possibly explain to his two companions what it was like to be expecting a child. He knew his Kaoru was hurting physically, but her heart was happy and he did his best to make her as comfortable as possible. He could not count the hours he spent rubbing her feet or back, helping her in and out of the bath, or comforting her in her restless sleep. He would happily take her place, but that would never happen, so he found peace in knowing it would all be over soon.
"Seems to me Kenshin got the easy half of the job," Yahiko replied smugly as he took a drink from his cup, ignoring the completely scandalized reactions of his friends.
"WHAT!" Sano sputtered while pounding a choking Kenshin on the back.
Yahiko smirked and shrugged, "Doesn't take a genius to figure it out Sanosuke."
Kaoru tossed in her sleep, shoving the blankets off her in a desperate attempt to relieve the heated sweat of her sleep. Her skin was damp with sticky perspiration and her body felt as though it was on fire. She lay still a moment, hoping the heat flash would leave her be, but rolled away from her husband as she began to find his added body heat irritating. She pushed herself into a sitting position, scowling into the darkness, her sweat slick body and aching joints doing nothing to temper her foul mood. She could not remember the last time she was able to get a decent night's sleep.
Mustering up all her strength, she hefted herself up, noting the slight shifting as gravity pulled on her belly. She ignored the pain that began to creep it's way down her back and into her hips, putting a hand into the small of her back for support. She paused at the edge of the futon, watching as her husband stirred slightly, his arm snaking out to pull the blankets up around his head. He mumbled something she couldn't understand, then settled back into a restful sleep.
Confident he was not disturbed, she crept out of the room and padded down the hall, pausing at the door's of Yahiko and Sano, assured by the snoring that echoed back from inside each room. She continued on down the hall, into the kitchen, not sure why her feet had taken her there. She wasn't hungry, only restless, feeling a sudden need to be on her protesting feet. She fingered her rounded belly, suddenly aware of how much heavier she felt, as if the earth was trying to pull her or the baby through the floor.
She walked the dojo grounds for several hours, a steady pacing to here and there, growing frustrated with her tiring restlessness. Even as the pain in her back increased, she could not stop the urges to wander, to walk, her feet moving forward against the aching jabs climbing her spine.
Dawn was barely casting the first shadows of the day across the yard when she felt the first contraction. It was a dull pain, deep inside her stomach, much like an ordinary woman's cramp, but more relentless. Her stomach tightened as it increased then slowly began to relax as the pain subsided. She paused, rubbing her belly slowly, uncertain of this new sensation. Shrugging it off as another quirk of pregnancy, she proceeded to continue her endless march, only to have the pain return again and this time a little more intense than the last.
She returned to her room, standing in the doorway, watching the rise and fall of the blankets that her husband had buried himself under. She hated to wake him this early, knowing many months had passed since he was able to sleep so soundly. She leaned heavily against the doorframe as another pain took her, once again sharper than the last.
Kenshin stirred beneath his cave, a nagging voice in his head urging him to wake himself. He protested slightly, sensing no danger or evil in the room, but the sensation continued to drive him out of his drowsy state. He untangled himself from the sheets, wincing against the chill winter air. "Kaoru?" he called, realizing his wife no longer lay next to him. He turned his head to the door, feeling her eyes on his back. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, fixing his gaze upon his wife, "What are you doing out there in the cold, kioshii? You'll get sick."
She was silent for several moments, biting her tongue against the pain, waiting for it to pass.
"Kaoru?" Kenshin asked again, this time his voice growing concerned. He could see the fear and discomfort dancing in her eyes. He discarded the covers, throwing them carelessly into a corner, and jumped to his feet, "What is it kioshii?"
The contraction passed and Kaoru breathed a heavy sigh, leaning harder on the frame of the door, "Kenshin, I think it's time," she replied.
The flame haired samurai froze, his face slack, "Time?" he asked, "THAT time?" He remained motionless as he watched Kaoru nodded slowly.
His mind suddenly began shouting at him to do a thousand things at once, yet his feet remained glued to the floor. He continued to stare at her, his pupils lost in a violet haze, unable to believe that the time had come for their child to make an entrance into the world.
"Ken-shin," Kaoru snapped in irritation, the next wave of pain beginning its assent in her body.
Kenshin blinked, snapping out of his stupor, "Remain calm," he told himself, though finding it extremely difficult to sedate his jittery nerves and excitement. "Okay, Karou, it's going to be okay," he whispered to her as well as himself.
He moved closer to his wife, holding his hand out to help her to the bed. Kaoru hissed like a wounded animal as the wave of her current contraction sent her body reeling. The agony snaked through her body, consuming every fiber in her body with a hot fire, she felt a strange popping deep inside her and suddenly her legs and feet were covered in a warm wetness. "Kenshin," she cried, her eyes full of fear now and voice racked in pain.
"Oh my god,"Kenshin's mind lurched, his resolve not to panic suddenly dissolving into nothingness. He wasn't fully certain what happened, but he somehow knew that it solidified the fact that his child was coming, and coming soon. "SANO!" he bellowed, moving swiftly to steady his wife's shaking form.
"Okay, Kaoru, it's almost time," Megumi reassured the young woman, "You'll have to push soon, but wait until I tell you." The doctor dabbed a cool cloth against the woman's sweaty brow, smiling her confidence.
Kaoru leaned heavily into Kenshin's bare chest. He sat behind her, supporting her exhausted body against his. Strong hands massaged her swollen belly and rubbed up and down her arms as he tried to ease some of her discomfort. She could feel him nuzzle the top of her head, his loving gesture full of the encouragement she so much needed at this moment.
Her contraction's had become demandingly intense, unrelenting in force, threatening to tear her apart from with in. An agonizing sob escaped her lips as the most recent one peaked, tears streaming down her face as she fought the urge to push the child out of her. Her body crushed into Kenshin's and her nails dug into the soft flesh of his legs, drawing tiny lines of blood.
Megumi glanced at the samurai, noting how pale his face had become. Sweat trickled down his nose and dripped steadily into his wife's hair, while his eyes held a wild, yet reserved fear deep inside the dancing amber and violet depths.
Kenshin's mind was racing. He never in his wildest dreams imagined childbirth being so stressful and frightening. He pictured it an occasion full of joy and excitement, but was not so naive to understand there would be no pain involved, yet he had not expected this at all. Kaoru's cries reverberated in his brain, calling forth a helpless panic when he could not ease the pain she was feeling, and part of him feeling guilty for being the cause of such agony.
He looked at the raven-haired doctor, his eyes pleading, "I'm never going to touch her again," he stated, his voice trembling. Deep in his mind he made a solemn promise he'd rather live a life of celibacy than put his beloved through such horrific pain again.
Megumi shook her head, hiding the smile that threatened to sneak out, "She'll be fine Ken-san. Women were made to bare children." She could see her words did nothing to ease his fears.
Kaoru caught her breath and mustered up the strength to pat his hand, "It's okay Kenshin, I'll be okay," she whispered, preparing herself for the next contraction.
"Sano, Yahiko, I need your help!" Megumi called, "It's time for the baby to come."
Modesty and shyness were thrown out the door a long while ago and were replaced only by the common concern for the well being of Kaoru and the baby. The two men diligently worked with Megumi, gathering supplies and tending to her needs, each one feeling a certain honor for being allowed to participate an event as amazing as the birth of their newest family member. Megumi motioned for them to hold the girl's legs, giving her something to push against during her next contraction.
"Okay, Kaoru," Megumi said, her voice serious and stern, "Push as hard as you can during the next contraction."
Kaoru nodded, feeling the next edge of pain building inside her. As the intensity grew she bore down with all her might, pushing her body against Kenshin and the two men holding her calves, feeling an undeniable relief as the pressure began to relieve itself from inside her. "Okay," she heard the doctor say, "A few more like that and it's all over!"
"It's almost here Kaoru! PUSH!" Megumi shouted, wiping the sweat from own brow. After an hour of pushing, she could finally see the baby.
Kaoru clenched her teeth, giving every ounce of strength she had into the final push. Sano and Yahiko, both covered in sweat, countered her push by holding her legs while Kenshin wrapped his arms around his wife, burying his head into her shoulder, willing her to take what ever strength she needed from his own soul.
A crisp wail shattered the icy winter air as the child cried out, angry from being forced out of the warm nest inside his mother. Megumi gave a sharp gasp and she held the wailing baby in her hands, her eyes brimming with tears, "You have a beautiful son," she whispered. She moved to cut the cord and took the baby away to clean and swaddle him.
"Wow, did you see that," Yahiko murmured, his dark eyes wide in wonder and a small smile playing on his lips.
Sano looked down and Kaoru, he reached out and brushed the matted hair away from her face, his face free of his normal gangster mask, "You did real good Jou-chan, real good." He smiled at her, his eyes glistening slightly.
Kaoru sank against Kenshin's sweat slickened chest, her entire body demanding sleep and peace after being through such an ordeal. Her heart was filled with a deep satisfaction and joy. She smiled as she listened to the hearty cries of her healthy baby, and allowed her eyes to close in exhaustion.
Kenshin sat motionless, his eyes fixated on the back of the doctor who was deftly wrapping his son into a light blanket. He could hear the baby's outraged cries as the doctor swaddled him into a light blanket. It sang like music in his ears and tears began to stream down his face. His blood. His child. His creation was screaming with life in the corner of their room, unaware of the joy and completion he brought to a man that had only known pain his entire life.
Night had fallen upon the dojo rather quickly and the small, unique family settled down in their designated areas to recover from the day's dramatic, yet joyous event.
Kenshin pulled the blankets up around his wife's shoulders, smoothing her hair away from her face. She was so fatigued and weary from the birth, she slept the rest of day away, waking only to feed and coddle the child. Kenshin always knew his wife was a strong woman, but he now saw her strength in a different light and admired her for it. It was one thing to wield a sword with a mightily spirit, but he could never match the strength of a woman bringing new life into the world.
When he was certain she was comfortable, he moved to the corner of the room, drawing a bundle of blankets from a small basket. Carefully, he settled himself against the wall, smiling as his newborn son yawned and stretched a thimble-sized fist free of his swaddle. The baby whimpered, scrunching up his button like mouth before settling back into a lazy doze.
"You had a long day too, didn't you little one," Kenshin whispered, brushing a thumb across the child's soft, flawless skin.
Kenshin found it strangely ironic that a man such as himself, one who had taken so many lives, could possibly create something as beautiful as the child he held in his arms. A part of him felt unworthy of such a gift, and feared he would not be able to live up to the standards a father should have. He could not remember much of his own father, let alone his childhood, it was but a brief fleeting ripple in time, marred death and blood. He had been born to a life of chaos, and became a product of that time.
He could feel a fierce protectiveness welling inside him as he gazed at his son's innocent and peaceful face. His child would know nothing but love and kindness, his heart would remain free of such burdens, and he would live happily in the era his father fought so hard to protect. He silently vowed to protect that happiness, feeling it was the least he could do for the small miracle who completed his life and made him feel like a human again.
The baby stirred again in his arms, this time freeing both his arms and opening his small, dark eyes. The tiny specks of light focused onto his father's face, regarding him intently. Kenshin smiled at his son, swallowing hard against the tremendous joy that threatened to burst from his chest, "Thank you little one, for allowing me to be a part of your life," he whispered.
The baby yawned again and Kenshin laughed quietly, allowing himself to drift into dreams of his son's promising future.
Well, that's it…I don't think it flowed very smoothly, but that's what I get for rushing a fic…shrugs…anyone here who's had a baby will probably tell you very different stories about the birth…I tried to make Kaoru's as "normal" as possible, (it's been seven years since I had my son, so I had to wrack my brain a little to recall what it was like…and no, I'm not old…lol…) Anyhoo, I tried to combine personal experience as well as other people's stories regarding the birth of their children I'm thinking about doing another fic, one about Kenji as a toddler…that should be fun…I have lots of experiences I can draw off of…cringing…. ;-) Thanks again to everyone who reviewed, you guys are fantastic! Take care and Happy Holidays!