Hey guys! So, this is my first attempt at a Diego shira one-shot that I'm posting. I have another story with them in it that I'm writing in a little notebook, but I don't know if I'll ever post it. I might, after I finish 'RWYT'. But for now, this is dedicated to whoever asked if I had thought of doing a DiegoXShira fic because somehow their review asking me about it just disappeared, so I have no idea what their penname is. But this is for YOU if you requested I did this type of fic and are reading it right now! So everyone please enjoy yourselves and please REFRAIN FROM THROWING THE ROTTEN TOMATOES! That is all.

Oh, and review! And the title is kinda random, but I wrote this while listening to that song from 'Snow White and the Huntsman', which is titled 'Breath of Life'. It does kind of fit; tell me what you think in a review! Oh, and this should be considered AU, since Diego knows way more about childbirth than what he said in IA3.

Diego and Shira's Breath of Life

Diego was awoken from his deep slumber by gentle pawing at his ribcage. Opening one eye, he looked up to see Shira staring at him nervously. He smiled at her and sat up with a yawn, rubbing his eye. "Hey Shira." he whispered. "What's up?" He wondered why he still whispered at a time like this; he and Shira, once officially mates, had moved out of the herd's cave to live in a smaller one only a mile away. Diego had suggested it, knowing that sooner or later he and Shira would want privacy, and would want their own cave to themselves.

Hey, Shira had high tastes, and so did he. No open meadow in blazing moonlight was going to work for their private, romantic moments.

And, frankly, the herd was becoming quite large; everyone needed breathing room. He took in the female's visage, trying to detect if she was revealing to him an injury that had been hidden previously that she had been embarrassed by, but saw nothing. He noted with curiosity the look of fear and guilt in her eyes, and took on a more serious expression. He searched her a second time out of caution, and smirked upon seeing the bulge on her belly. Shira had been quite relaxed ever since settling into the herd life. So much so that he had only recently realized how uptight she had been as a pirate when he first met her. He figured she was just kicking back and enjoying her new chance to loaf the day away and eat whatever and whenever she so chose.

"Shira?" he asked, face turning serious once again. "Is something wrong?" He gently brought one paw up to cup her chin. She sighed shakily and took his paw in her own, placing it on her stomach. He cocked an eyebrow at her, "Are you feeling that sick?" he asked. She shook her head slightly, before putting it down in the guilty fashion of a cub caught stealing more than their fair share of a kill. "Shira, what is wr-" Diego stopped when he felt something thump his paw.

From inside Shira.

She gave a jerk, then stilled, obviously surprised as well. Diego let his jaw drop, dumbfounded. "I'm such an idiot." he mentally berated himself. "The chubbiness, the mood swings, all screaming at me!" He sat there for another moment, and Shira's paw slowly slipped off his. He looked at her head; was she...guilty, ashamed of being pregnant with their cubs? He felt another thump, and spread his paw out over her stomach, shifting it around and gently pressing as Shira jerked from the kick.

He felt at least three more before taking his paw off her belly. He used it to raise her head so that her eyes met his. He searched her blue orbs in curiosity; why on earth was Shira, his pirate queen, acting so solemn and fearful, so guilty in the face of this? "Shira," he said quietly, a tone of disbelief in his voice. "why didn't you tell me?" he asked. She turned her face away, effectively releasing his paw's hold on it. He blinked in surprise; nowadays she never pulled away from him, especially if it was a loving embrace or gesture.

Something was truly troubling her.

"Shira please," he pleaded quietly. "What's wrong? Tell me." Nothing. "A...are you afraid? Guilty you kept it a secret so long?" She breathed in shakily.

"No." she said with quiet timidness. Now Diego was getting scared; Shira was never timid, never so quiet, never afraid, although she had been guilty back when he first met her. But not to this extreme. Her soft voice somewhat stilled his fears, although he was still worried about her.

"Then...why are you acting like this?" She suddenly let out a sob, and Diego gawped at her. This was all wrong; he thought girls were happy, overjoyed at being pregnant. What was wrong with Shira? Why was she crying, clearly not out of joy, with the knowledge that she was carrying a litter? He gently grasped her shoulders in his paws, staring at her worriedly. "Shira please, tell me why this is upsetting you."

She surged forward, burying her face in his chest, sobbing quietly. He nervously embraced her, fearful of what she might say. After a few minutes of wetting Diego's chest with her her tears, Shira turned her face to the side so she could speak properly. "I...I don't know."

"You don't know what's upsetting you?" Diego tried. "It's probably just the mood swings then." Shira shook her head to the best of her abilities.

"No. I don't know anything about...cubs. Being pregnant. I'm afraid I'll do something wrong, hurt them before they come out, or after." Diego gently stroked her head. "Or even the...birth. My mother never told me about how anything is supposed to happen. She died from a human attack when I was little, and it was a few days after that when I met Gutt and he offered me a home on his ship."

Diego tilted her face up to his."Oh, that's not a problem." he said gently with a soft smile. "Just ask Ellie. I'm sure she knows some universal things about females going through this. She had Peaches." Shira sniffed.

"I know, I asked her, but she doesn't know very much. Even about her own species; she was raised by possums! Let alone if she knew anything about saber pregnancies!" Diego tucked her head under his chin, sensing she was about to burst into tears again. "All I know is babies need love and care, and I was raised on a pirate ship where love is a weakness. What if I'm a horrible mother?" Diego gave her a pitying frown.

"This all seems so unnatural, unreal. I'm not prepared for this, I never thought I'd find a mate and now-"

"Shira, calm down." Diego shushed. He didn't like the sound of her fearful rambling; Shira was not a rambler. He gently pressed his paw to her belly again. "I promise you; what's happening right now, is perfectly natural. This is a normal occurrence after a male and female become mates." He smirked at her. "Sabers don't come from spores, ya' know."

She gave a small chuckle. Shira placed a paw over his, and the other on her baby bulge. "How are you so...confident?" she asked. "The crew members, they all had seen sabers before. They told me it was easier being a pirate than putting up with a male. They said guys are so clueless about this kind of stuff." Diego smiled warmly at her.

"My mother had three litters of four in her lifetime. I was her only son." Shira looked up at him with a start. "I was there through just about every one of my sisters' first pregnancies. And my mother's two after me. You don't think a guy would learn certain details after a while of all that?" She chuckled, then laid her head on his chest, neither removing their paws from her stomach.

Another kick came, and Shira jerked slightly once more. Despite being afraid that his mate was in pain from the internal roughness, Diego couldn't help the pride and exuberance that soared through him as he felt his future child testing itself out. "Diego?"

"Yes Shira?"

"Can you promise me something?"

"Of course." He felt her squeeze his paw tightly.

"Promise me...that you'll help me through this whole pregnancy thing."

"Well of course; what kind of mate would I be if I didn't?" Shira giggled. "Now let's go back to sleep." Diego suggested, giving his mate's belly a tender pat. "You need rest." Shira complied wholeheartedly, laying down next to him and snuggling into his embrace, resting her nose on his neck.

"Night...Softie." Diego smirked.

"Night...Kitty." He waited until she fell asleep, before breaking out into a wide grin and placing his paw protectively on Shira's belly. He rubbed the baby bulge fondly but gently enough so as not to awaken Shira, excited at the prospect of becoming a father. The cub kicked at various times throughout the night, and Shira would jump in her sleep every time the forming cub's paw came in contact with her. Diego smiled and gently licked his mate's head, pitying her discomfort as she was clearly still not used to a tiny body inside of her kicking the night away. He kept a vigilant watch until sunrise, now afraid that unwanted visitors would cause his pregnant Shira harm. "I promise Shira," he vowed internally.

"I'll make sure you enjoy this pregnancy, and that you'll be happy when the cub gets here."

Weeks passed; Shira's belly expanded rapidly, and sitting became an alien position to her. She didn't like the way gravity pulled on her stomach in that position, and so became accustomed to either standing or laying on the ground when not mobile. She often needed Diego's help to stand up, something he assured her not to worried about. His fifth sister, Ashlynn, had often needed similar help during the last leg of her pregnancy, and when the time came, she had birthed six healthy cubs. But that only brought Shira a new fear; would she and Diego have six cubs as well? Would they have more? Was that even possible?

Diego said it was, but highly unlikely. Shira was very nervous for a while, until Diego took her aside and convinced her that all would be well, and nothing would go wrong; there would be no mishaps. And she believed him. For that one moment. Right before the first contraction.

Shira winced and grabbed her stomach, hissing in pain as another contraction hit, curling herself inward. Diego gently straightened her out, then resumed rubbing her back. "You've gotta' be completely stretched out Shira, even if you're doing this on your side." he said softly. Shira dug her claws into the dirt and let out a short cry of pain from another contraction. The labor had started a few hours previously, and not a single herd member had been at home. Diego had carefully led Shira up to their own cave, and situated her safely in the back. Diego gently pressed on Shira's stomach, making calculations in his head.

"Okay, the first one should be coming right, about," Shira cut him off with a scream. In the next instant, a high pitched wail reached the pairs' ears. Shira, temporarily forgetting her pain, stared at the newborn child in horror.

"W-why is it crying?" she whimpered. "What do I do?" Diego gently picked up the wet, red bundle and placed it in her paws.

"Lick it clean." he said calmly. "So it can breathe." Shira, terrified her cub would die from lack of air, instantly began licking the red off the child's head, then continueing down to clean the rest of it. It quieted down as she did so, which pleased Shira; she wasn't a bad mother so far. Once it was happily curled against her belly, Shira smiled, and allowed herself to feel the pain of her labor once more. She gritted her teeth and groaned loudly, digging her flexed claws into the dirt again. Diego pressed on her stomach gently, before giving her an encouraging smile.

"You're doing great Shira." he said. "Now just push." She looked up at him, dumbfounded.

"Push?" she asked. "How do expect me to push on them?"

"You'll know how, every female in labor does, I promise. Just push." Shira closed her eyes and focused on the tiny bodies within her. With a surge, she pushed on them as hard as she could, willing another one to pop out. She finally stopped with a large pant and a groan as yet another contraction hit her. Diego gently stroked her face, smiling at her. "Great, Shira, you're doing great." he said.

She smiled at him, then winced again and hissed in pain. Diego rubbed her stomach gently. "Come on Shira, push again." he encouraged. Shira steeled herself once more and groaned as she tried to force her cubs out. By the end of this excursion, she heard another high pitched wail and gave a sigh, smiling with relief. Once again pushing the pain from her mind, she allowed Diego to place her second cub in her paws, and began licking the infant clean. As it curled up contentedly with its older sibling, the pain flooded back to Shira, and she groaned.

That evening, as the stars came out and the moon began to rise, Shira finally allowed her muscles to relax as seven little fluff balls curled up in the curve of her now flat belly, for she had curled herself around them, and sucked eagerly from her teats. She was of course a little unstable at first, not in the very least used to feeding her tiny little babies' mouths. Diego curled around her and laid his neck on hers, staring down at the cubs with a fond smile. He nuzzled her gently, sensing her unease, before turning back to their cubs. "Seven..." Shira heard him mutter in amazement. She averted her eyes from the tiny fluff balls sucking on her for a moment.

"Seven?" she asked tentatively. Diego locked his eyes with hers.

"Well, I'm just, surprised." Shira's eyes widened fearfully.

"Why?" she asked nervously. Diego licked her cheek before replying, hoping to calm her down.

"The standard maximum for a litter is six." he explained. "There are a few rare cases where a couple more are born." Shira looked back at her babies worriedly.

"So...is something wrong?"

"No, no, nothing's wrong." Diego assured, nuzzling her cheek with his nose. He smiled at her. "In fact, it's special." Shira smiled back, but returned her attention to the cubs, nosing each one all the same. She checked for any abnormalities; twisted paws, missing limbs or facial pieces, any physical blemishes that her babies could possibly have. There were none. Her seven balls of fluff were perfect.

She smiled and lay her head on the floor, satisfied with her current situation. She felt Diego stand up and make his way around her. He gave the cubs a round of fond nosing, even a few licks, before laying across from her so that the cubs were shielded on all sides. The two fell asleep peacefully.

Shira woke up late the next morning to find Diego absent. She was nervous at first, worried about being left alone with the newborns. To calm herself, she occupied her mind by stroking her cubs and observing them curiously. A few minutes later, Diego returned, dragging a deer carcass with him. Shira smiled in relief at the sight of her mate, and hungrily eyed the deer. Diego set the meal down in front of her, giving her neck a soft nuzzle. "I hope you're hungry." he whispered. Shira chuckled and licked his cheek.

"Actually I'm starving."

"Good." Shira began to eat, tearing the meat off quietly so the cubs wouldn't be disturbed. Diego lay on his belly across from her, eyes roving over her as she ate. She was surprised at how watchful he had been of her for the past month or so before the birth. Saber cubs were, apparently, terribly helpless; blind and deaf. Perhaps the only thing they could do was smell her milk, which they clambered over each other desperately for when they became hungry. She tried to leave a little for Diego, who claimed he had eaten while he was out and urged her to finish.

Once having done so, Shira turned her attention back to the cubs, gazing at them fondly. "Will they open their eyes soon?" she asked, looking up at her mate. Diego smirked softly.

"It usually takes about nine days." he replied. Shira looked back at the newborns.

"Oh." There as a companionable silence as the two simply gazed lovingly at their cubs, Shira administering a few caring licks to the particular cubs who got a little too excited for her taste, or began to mewl loudly for no apparent reason. She felt Diego's eyes on her and the smile on his face, but chose to ignore him and keep constant watch over her babies. "Does the rest of the herd know?" she asked out of the blue. Diego snickered softly.

"Manny has Sid tied to a tree and the possums tails are hopelessly knotted around a tree branch." he replied. Shira sighed, somewhat relieved. She had had the tiniest fear that their little haven would be bombarded with other animals and loud noise the moment their friends had been notified they'd entered parenthood. She laid her head on the ground, suddenly feeling exhausted. Diego gently reached over and licked her temple in a soothing gesture.

"Is it normal to be this tired?"

"Perfectly. Especially coupled with the cubs nursing every five minutes." Shira heaved another sigh, and placed a paw over as many of the cubs as she could, before falling asleep once more.

Diego watched as Shira fell asleep, her exhaust showing clearly on her face. He couldn't help but smile at her protective gesture of trying to cover the cubs. He gently nosed and licked them while he waited for her to awaken. "Woah; they do nurse every five minutes." he realized after a while. No wonder Shira was so beat. He gently licked her awake a few hours later. She giggled, apparently tickled by his tongue sliding over her nose, before opening her beautiful, baby blue eyes and looking up at him.

"We've still gotta' name `em." he said quietly. She turned her smile to the seven fluff balls snuggling against her, and gently wrapped her paw around the oldest, bringing it up to her chest for better examination. She cupped one paw around the infant, using the other to slowly turn it over. This one was a boy; he had his father's fur color, but his mother's stripes. Diego smiled at his son, stroking his tiny leg gently. However, the little boy gave a mewl and shuffled closer to Shira, who chuckled.

"I like James." Diego nodded.

"James for the oldest then." Shira put James back next to his siblings, and pulled up the second cub. A girl, completely white.

"Pearl." Diego whispered, gently nosing his daughter. She mewled and weakly swatted at his large nose, which in turn caused Diego to snicker. Shira smirked, then licked the albino little girl.

"A tough little Pearl." she agreed, before placing young Pearl where she had been before next to James. The third cub was another boy, who looked exactly like Diego. " How about Percy?" Diego nodded and gave the cub a fond lick. Percy merely shuddered, before being placed next to Pearl. The fourth cub was another girl, who looked exactly like Shira.

"Shara." Diego said, stroking his daughter's face. He smirked. " We can nickname her Shay-Shay." Shira giggled and nodded.

"Shara then." Shara was placed back next to Percy. The fifth cub was male. He had Shira's fur pattern, but his stripes were orange. " Raver." Shira said. Diego nodded and licked the little boy, who mewled weakly in protest. Raver was set back down next to Shara, and eagerly began nursing. The sixth cub was another girl, and she had Diego's fur.

"Delora." Diego whispered. Shira nodded in agreement, and tenderly nuzzled her daughter. She put Delora back next to Raver, and the little girl began satisfying her own hunger. The youngest was another boy, who looked exactly like Shira.

"Kesher." Shira whispered. Diego nodded, then gave his youngest a tender lick, to which Kesher pawed at in annoyance. He was returned to his spot next to Delora, where he curled up into a ball, huddled against Shira's belly. Diego smiled at his seven little cubs, happier than he had ever been in his life. He nuzzled Shira's nose with his own.

"I knew you could do it, Kitty." Shira gave his shoulder a light punch.

"Thanks Softie." she replied, before laying her head on the ground. Diego rested his neck over hers, settling down for a nap.

"You're gonna' be a great mother, Shira." he whispered. Shira shifted for a moment, still becoming accustomed to the nursing.

"Thanks...Diego." she muttered, before succembing to her fatigue. Diego smiled and slipped into the realm of dreams as well.

So how was it? Again, and AU fic cause Diego actually knows about childbirth and isn't awkward with Shira's whole uneasiness. This is what happens when I write a Diego Shira story from around 10 p.m. to about 2 a.m. I just figured since Diego is usually clueless in these situations but he really does want to take care of Shira, he should get a chance to strut his stuff! Plus, what if Shira really spent her whole life on a pirate ship? You think she really was taught anything about babies? Please review; if we're lucky, Diego's uncommon goodness made a delicious new batch of Keebler cookies from the elf tree for all of us to enjoy!

Okay yeah, that was weird, but I love Keebler cookies and I thought of that cute trailer they have. REVIEW! And again sorry I'm not working on Aritoka's story, I was just inspired to Finally write about Diego and Shira.

And almost 11 pages! Awesomeness in length!