A howl split the night and echoed through the surrounding area. On the forest floor, Inuyasha writhed with pain. He clutched his round swollen stomach tightly and moaned.
Miroku pressed a wet cloth to his friend's face. "Just breathe. We will help you through this."
Inuyasha whimpered in response, his fists tightening as his eyes screwed shut and he cried out again. His body shuddered in pain. "Out." He panted. "Out now."
"Yes.” He turned to the girl standing beside him. “Sango, please hold him still.”
She nodded silently and sat down behind Inuyasha, pulling his head into her lap and holding his shoulders. Once Miroku was sure that his friend was secure, he drew out a blade. Spreading a numbing salve over the half-demon's stomach he then began to cut through his skin. Inuyasha bit his lip and Sango moved the wet cloth over his face. She was watching in strange fascination as Miroku cut their friend open. He went slowly, cutting through layers of soft tissue and then stopped. Blood soaked the leaf-littered ground as the monk reached his hand into Inuyasha's stomach, shifting organs and causing Inuyasha to moan in pain.
“Almost there,” Miroku said as he slowly drew out a small pink bundle.
Inuyasha's eyes snapped open as he felt the child that had been growing within him removed. His gaze was trained on Miroku as the monk reverently cradled the tiny child and severed the final cord that connected it to Inuyasha. Miroku used the end of his robe to wipe away some of the blood that covered the small child. The baby's parentage was obvious by the tiny white dog-ears peeping from a thatch of pink tinted hair and small wet tail.
Miroku looked up at Inuyasha and smiled softly. "It is a boy."
Inuyasha held out his arms and Miroku handed him the tiny child. Inuyasha cradled his new infant, staring in complete awe at the small life in his hands. He was hardly aware of Miroku's delivery of the afterbirth or being sewed together with herb soaked thread. His attention was fixed fully on his child that squirmed and mewed in his arms.
"He is very beautiful," Sango whispered as she reached out to touch a small waving foot.
"You should rest Inuyasha, we will fetch some water to bathe him," Miroku said putting his hand on Inuyasha's shoulder.
"I am resting," the dog demon replied as his eyes drooped in exhaustion.
"Would you like us to send Kagome over to wait with you?" Sango asked. Kagome and Shippo had not wanted to be present when Inuyasha was cut open and were sitting together by the river.
He gave a weak nod. "Yeah. Want her to see him."
Miroku nodded and took a jug as he walked into the trees. Soon, Kagome and Shippo emerged looking at Inuyasha in amazement. They approached quietly and knelt down beside him.
"How do you feel?" Kagome asked.
"Ah! Of course, silly question! Are you ok now? I was worried about you." Kagome seemed to be taking stock of his health. It was only a few days ago that he had seemed to fall ill. None of them knew at the time that he was in the last stages of pregnancy. Up to that point, there had been almost no indications other than some occasional mild nausea. His stomach hadn't begun to swell until three days prior. The baby within him had grown considerably due to its demon heritage. Even Inuyasha had been unaware of the life that he had been carrying with him until the signs became too obvious to ignore. By that time they had been too far from any towns that could help them and so Inuyasha had given birth in the middle of the forest.
"I am ok, the baby is fine."
"Have you thought of a name?" Shippo piped as he watched the baby, enchanted.
"No time. Can't think." He yawned.
Sango brushed his hair back. "There is no rush. You can think when you are not so tired. For now, let us take care of you Inuyasha." The demon hunter soothed her friend.
"Sleep, we will not let anything happen to you or your child."
"Take him?" Inuyasha offered the baby to Kagome, who carefully cradled him in her arms.
Miroku returned with the water and washed the blood from Inuyasha as Kagome and Sango cleaned the baby. Miroku picked up the half-demon and moved from the bed of leaves that he had given birth in, to a sleeping bag that had been rolled out. Inuyasha watched Kagome rock his baby as he fell asleep, exhausted from the energy it took him to give birth.
Later, he awoke to the sound of tiny cries. He sat up immediately looking around for his baby. Sango was holding him and singing softly as she rocked him, but the baby did not want to quiet. She looked up as she felt Inuyasha's eyes upon her.
"You're awake. He's hungry." She brought the baby over and handed him to Inuyasha, who cradled his son close to his chest.
"How...how do I feed him?" He looked down at his son, now cleaned and wrapped in a white blanket. His head was crowned with a light dusting of snowy hair and two tiny floppy ears. He had quieted when Inuyasha took him, but he had still seen the flash of small fangs. His eyes were squinted unhappily, but their golden color was obvious.
"We are assuming that since you were able to give birth, you can also produce the milk needed to nourish the child," Miroku said as he sat on the other side of Inuyasha setting down some food and a cup of water.
"I have to...?" He looked up alarmed.
"He's a baby, he can't eat food. He needs his mother's milk." Sango said.
"Mother?!" The half-demon's head whipped towards her.
"Yes, Inuyasha. You are the baby's mother. And as such, you must feed him."
"Just open your shirt Inuyasha. If it does not work, we will come up with alternate means of providing food for the baby," Miroku coaxed.
The baby whimpered and Inuyasha's resistance seemed to melt away. "All right." He opened his shirt and held the baby to his chest where his nipples had swollen considerably. As if sensing food, the baby latched on fiercely and began to suckle. A strange look crossed Inuyasha's face as he looked down at the small white head attached to his chest.
"Well, it seems that I was right." Miroku grinned as he sat back and sipped some tea. "So Inuyasha, have you decided on a name?"
Inuyasha nodded. "I'm going to name him Kuniku."
Inuyasha looked around. "Where are Kagome and Shippo?"
"They went off into the woods. They're up to something."
"Ow!" Inuyasha jumped. He stared down at his chest.
Sango leaned forward worriedly. "What's wrong?"
"Kuniku bit me." He winced.
Miroku grinned. "Perhaps you should, ah, switch breasts."
Inuyasha grumbled at the reference but did so, carefully. Again, Kuniku latched on and began to drink his fill. Soon, his sucking slowed until he finally let go and yawned. Inuyasha watched as he fell asleep and smiled tenderly.
Kagome and Shippo walked back into the clearing smiling.
"What have you been doing?" Miroku asked the pair.
"We made a gift for the baby." Kagome sat down near her friends.
"Look!" Shippo held up a small outfit. "We even left a hole for his tail!" He turned it around to show the small hole.
"Thank you," Inuyasha said, taking the tiny outfit with one hand. "It's...just what we need."
"You're welcome," Kagome smiled happily. "Did you name him yet?"
"Yes, his name is Kuniku."
"Kuniku...it fits." She looked at the baby and couldn't help but smile more. He was so small and precious. It was amazing. Men weren't supposed to have babies. At least, they didn't where she was from. But then again, there weren't demons running rampant in her time either. She had only been mildly surprised when it happened, having become used to strange things happening. To tell the truth, what amazed her the most was how right it seemed.
Watching Inuyasha cradle his small son just gave her a warm feeling. The feelings that had once left her so confused had settled when she had finally realized that she could not have Inuyasha. It wasn't such a great loss, because she still had his friendship and his trust. If she were to be truthful, she would have to admit how much their relationship had always been like that of siblings, with frequent squabbles that covered up the overall love they held for each other.
Her only main concern was Kuniku's father. Who was he? Inuyasha had never said. She knew that it wasn't Miroku; he would have claimed the child. Besides, the monk was truly infatuated with Sango and perhaps he even loved her. The father couldn't be Kouga. Kuniku had dog demon features like Inuyasha and it seemed that Kouga preferred women or her at least. She prayed very hard that it wasn't Naraku, that he hadn't somehow hurt her friend and forced the burden upon him. Not that Kuniku was a burden, but to bear the child of such an evil demon was surely a great weight.
She was unaware of Inuyasha carrying on a relationship with anyone. He never gave any hint that he had a lover somewhere. He went off to sit in trees by himself, but was generally easy to find, so it wasn't as if he was running off on illicit trysts. So who was the father of Kuniku? He had his father's looks. White hair and dog-ears. He even had a small fluffy tail and slanted golden eyes that were unusually aware of their surroundings. Was she perhaps overlooking something important? She shied away. Surely, it wasn't. Could it be that Kuniku's father was...Sesshomaru?