Tsuyoi stood on the great stone bridge that connected the barracks and training grounds to the main palace. It was the very same place that the traitors had met the end of Hokoru’s sword not long before, ashes still stirred in the light breeze that played with her hair. She gazed out over the gently flowing water, its appearance colored by mirroring the sky as the sun began its slow decent, the calm image a complete opposite of her troubled thoughts.
Her warriors were in place and battle ready from the moment lord Hokoru had announced lady Kagome’s impending motherhood. Still, it unsettled her how close their enemies had gotten, actually hidden away within their walls for any amount of time. It felt as though they had missed something, a nagging on the edge of her senses…
“It’s quite a lovely scene, isn’t it?” Miroku said from the edge of the stone path, honestly just coming by her in his hunt for Sango. He knew that she would be having a hard time waiting for word of Kagome. As members of their pack, both of them could have gone and been with her, but had both felt that this was something better shared between Kagome and her mates.
“Are you through with your ‘harmless stalking’ habits enough to speak now, hentai monk?” She asked calmly, her pale eyes scanning him, much like they had the horizon earlier, searching for any unseen threat.
“Ah…hm…” he ran his once cursed hand through his hair, the beads he still habitually wore over it clicking together. “What has Sango been saying about me?” he wondered out loud.
“A great many things.” Tsuyoi answered factually, “often stressing the words ‘harmless’ and ‘perverted’.” She turned slightly, going back to her surveillance of the landscape. “Did you have need of me, lord Miroku?”
“No need to be so formal” he said, both hands up in a gesture of guilelessness.
“Please,” Sango commented as she drew near, “it would swell his head and I am too tired to beat it back down to size.” She rested her back against the rock edge of the bridge beside her newfound friend and sparring partner.
“So beautiful and cruel, as always, my dear Sango” he said in mock hurt before sheepishly smiling at them. It seemed he had a thing for powerful and striking women, two of which stood before him. No sweet words or gifts would ever be enough to sway them, both cunning and challenging in their own ways.
“Uh hu.” Sango said offhandedly, “has there been any word on Kagome yet?” she asked.
“Not yet,”he told her, concern evident on his face, “but she will be fine, she is very strong,” he assured her, wishing that she would let him hold her in times like these. Even though he knew that it was probably hopeless with the loss of her brother closing the doors of her heart, Miroku never seemed to be able to give up on his love for her.
Tsuyoi studied the monk and slayer. She had been slightly surprised to see a flash of pain in his eyes, his face serious and focused. There was more going on here than she had understood, perhaps even a depth to him she had missed in her earlier assessment of him. Sango was far easier to read, the air of sorrow she carried like a cloak was not hard to see at all. More curious was her own inclination to know more about the couple, despite all that was going on around them. All such musings faded away as she sensed lord Hokoru approaching them, his intense aura unveiled putting those in his path on high alert.
Shikyomi made one last pass through the halls of the western palace, searching for anything out of place or threatening to her pack in one of its weakest moments. So far there had been nothing she had come across and nothing reported by any of those she had sent out to do checks on their remaining guests and outside the perimeter of the gates. There had also been no sign of the strange auras that Hokoru had sensed earlier. It was as if they had disappeared all-together. For the moment, she only waited for a few more to come back before going and seeing the birth of her grandchildren herself. It was a monumental occasion and one she did not plan on missing.
“My lady.” Hokoru said as he joined her. They walked the halls together, continuing their run through in silence, both intent on seeking out even the smallest threat.
Just outside the huge doors that decorated the palace entryway, one of her scouts returned. Bowing to her, he made his report. “My lady, there is a small party approaching from the north, one female inuyokai and two males. Their conversation as they passed by me suggested that they wish to speak with the western lord, but do not seem to intend harm.”
“Did they sense you?” Shi asked, musing over how she would go see what they were about and still see the pups arrive. The scout grinned at her before disappearing, one of her favorites. He had yet to be detected no matter how far into enemy lines he had been sent. She would have to remember to reward him later.
“Allow me to go, my lady.” Hokoru stepped away from her, toward the north. “I will ascertain their purpose and act accordingly.”
“As you will,” she thought quickly, “but take Miroku with you, he can be a good diplomat if needed and has pack status. This one has no wish to stir up those whining pups this one’s son calls a council, for the moment at least.” Shikyomi turned to head back to her family, “If you sense any threat, no matter how small, kill them.”
Hokoru bowed, acknowledging her words before they went their separate ways. He had yet to spend any time with the human members of his lord’s pack, it would be a good opportunity to assess whether the monk was a new strength or weakness to the inuyokai. There had to be something to him to have gained lady deaths favor and Hokoru would find the best way to use him to their benefit. Tsuyoi had already approved and claimed the slayer, intending to groom Sango as her second, a fitting place for one of their lords pack members.
Inuyasha watched, nearly holding his breath as Kagome made another slow circle around the room. It seemed to help her a little, he thought anyway. She had not spoken in a while, seeming only to focus inwardly. Her eyes often found him and Sesshomaru, who was up helping her pace the room. “Is everything alright?” he as Kogirei who was preparing a strange sort of bed beside him. “Don’t most women yell a lot while giving birth?”
Lady Kei giggled, men were so silly sometimes. “Lady Kagome is holding up well. The more she walks, the sooner your pups will arrive.” She leaned closer to him, “do not worry, the screaming part will come.”
“That is not comforting at all.” He frowned at her amusement “not one damn bit, lady.” A light gasp drew his gaze as Kagome rested against Sesshomaru, unable to walk any farther. He quickly went to their side and helped him hold their mate on her feet, the warmth of both of them helping to ease the pain slightly.
Kogirei looked her over, her senses telling her that it was close enough to time. “Alright, young lord, up you go.” She told Inuyasha, indicating the raised table.
Sesshomaru watched as Inuyasha swallowed, but nodded. They had discussed earlier what needed to be done, so they all knew what part they needed to play for Kagome’s sake. Inuyasha climbed up on the table, both men pausing slightly when another streak of pain came through their open bonds. It was nowhere near unbearable, but they were as ready for it to end as she was. He lifted her easily onto the flat surface as Inuyasha sat with his legs crossed in front of him.
Kagome was beyond caring as they stripped her clothing away, pulling a light blanket over the top half of her for comfort. Her knees were against Inuyasha’s, her head resting against his chest as she concentrated. Sesshomaru also joined them there, kneeling beside them as he gathered her hair and lay it across her shoulder. Then he began rubbing down her back gently as a low rumbling noise came from his chest, soothing her and Inuyasha slightly. Everything was ready, now all that was needed was time.
Katsumi and Shikyomi slipped into the room quietly. The sight in the birthing chambers brought smiles to their faces, each with their own fond memories. “I seem to recall Touga was late getting here and almost missed this part.”
Shi chuckled. “True, but it served us well. Before I could get too worked up to yell at him, Sesshomaru demanded to come into the world. Pushing a child out of your body tends to make you work out your frustrations rather quickly.”
“You were quite demanding when you made your entrance as well.” Katsumi hummed softly, lost in the memory of Shikyomi’s birth. She had held Kimiko as Inuyasha did Kagome while their mate and alpha watched over them.
“Shi, lady Katsumi, could you get ready please?” Kei asked as she checked Kagome once more. Things were going to go rapidly it seemed. Both inu had been honored to help care for their grandchildren in their first moments of life. No others would be allowed into the room from this point on.
In…out…in…time had become measured in breaths, beginning and ending on the swells of pain that would rise and crest within her body. Another slow inhalation, her awareness fading to a heavy fog, casting shadows of light on those around her. She was conscious of her surroundings, of the people in the room and why they were all there, yet felt separate from it. It was as if she were a presence reading her own story, immersed with in, but apart from the reality of it, her body taking on a will of its own as it steadily worked toward its goal. Still, she thought, amused with herself even as the next wave threatened to steal her attention away, it was amazing how the only focused, clear points in the room were two sets of glowing golden eyes. That alone helped her far more than all the voices urging her on. She held on to those gazes even as the sound of joyful cries filled the birthing chambers.
Kei was happy with how well the new lady of the west was doing. Even though she had expected some complications, it appeared that her main job on this day would be catching. The first pup slid into her hands. The warm, wiggling ball of life was soon fussing and protesting as she freed him completely from his mother. “The heir is born," she said, handing the pup off to Shikyomi.
“And with all of Sesshomaru’s markings.” Shi said proudly as she began to clean the child, tracing the lines fondly. It was almost startling how much the pup resembled her son, right down to his golden eyes and small patch of silver hair.
Kagome groaned loudly as she began to push once again. Kogirei was ready as a tiny little girl slid into her hands. A few quick rubbing motions soon had her voicing her protests as well as opening her eyes to glare at her. Laughing, she announced, “The west now has a new princess as well.”
“It seems she has gained her Obaasan’s traits.” Katsumi said fondly as she noted the pup’s eyes. One was bright gold, just like her fathers and the other was deep amber. Her face was her mother’s gift to her and her hair was the purest white. She would no doubt grow to be one of the greatest beauties the west had known. She carried the child over to where her brother was now being laid down, clean and quietly contemplating his new environment.
Kogirei had a few moments to prepare before the next series of contractions started. Kagome was tiring now, her limbs trembling with the effort it was taking to remain upright and push even with those who helped her. She caught Sesshomaru’s questioning stare, his eyes troubled as he also felt his mate’s weakness. Sending him a reassuring smile, Kei set about her work again, saying healing chants that helped with the pain and blood loss. Her charge was bleeding more than she would like, but not dangerously so.
Kei’s eyes widened for a moment as she felt the last two auras coming very close together. “Katsumi, Shi, come here please.” She managed to say calmly. The two male inu’s in the room were already wound up as it was, she did not want to worry them if she could help from it. The two quickly but gently laid the babies down and came to her side. “Shi, right here.” Kogirei pulled her closer. Releasing her she tucked her hands under Kagome to catch the child. Wasting no time, she handed the baby to Shikyomi without severing the last tie to its mother as she had the other two. Hurriedly she barely managed to catch the last as it slid from her body. Both pups wailed loudly all on their own.
Katsumi took the last pup, holding him close to his brother. They looked over the now youngest of their pack as Kei finished her task. They were adorable, even red faced and screaming. They too, closely resembled their father, with tiny twitching ears and the shape of their faces, however there were quite a bit of Kagome to them as well. The third born, who continued to fuss a short while after his twin had quieted, had one black ear on the right, the shade continuing back in one dark streak through his silver hair. His brother also had the black color, but on his left ear. Opening his eyes widely, they noticed that their eyes were also two different hues. Corresponding with their dark ears, they both had one eye that was their mothers bright blue. The other was as golden as their siblings.
Kagome collapsed against Inuyasha. He held her close to him as Kei finished up. After her nod, Sesshomaru stepped down, taking her into his arms. He carried her a short distance away to a much softer bed, close to the four little bassinets that now held their pups. Inuyasha followed close behind them, thankful that it was over and anxious to see the babies and make sure with his own eyes that all was well. Kagome was swiftly cleaned and dressed in a light sleeping gown before being tucked under a large blanket.
The new mother woke from her stupor sore and so very tired, but also grateful to have the worst behind her. Her body still contracted from time to time, but it was a small ache, part of the healing process as her body attempted to put everything back in its proper place now that it no longer housed four babies. They propped her up with many cushions so that she could meet and feed her children, her mates remaining beside her, Inuyasha sitting on the edge of her bed.
“The new heir to the west.” Shikyomi said, placing the child in Sesshomaru’s arms. Traditions had to be observed after all.
Sesshomaru was very close to awed as he held his son in his arms. The boy looked up at him curiously, a smile on his mouth before yawing and making a noise that could only be described as cute. Warmth spread through the inu and from him to his mates, the child’s mother amused at him. Sharing a glance with her, he placed their pup in her arms for his very first meal. “You are pleased, I take it?” Kagome asked, yawning herself as she fawned over the little boy.
Inuyasha smirked. Pleased was not a good enough word for what both brothers were feeling. He reached out with a slightly shaky hand and ran his fingers through his soft tuff of hair as the child fed from Kagome. He could hardly wait to meet the rest of them.
“Your daughter, my lords and lady.” Kei said, handing the girl to Sesshomaru. He was nearly amused to see his own cool assessing glance in the eyes of his daughter. After a moment she blinked and her tiny frown eased, apparently deciding that he would do before settling down in his light embrace.
Inuyasha chuckled even as Kagome handed the eldest child to him. “I guess our daughter took the most after Ani.” He snuggled the pup close to him, only a little nervous. The boy smiled softly as he drifted off to sleep, as if he knew that those arms would always keep him safe.
Sesshomaru handed the smallest of their children to Kagome who was treated to the same serious surveillance, making her laugh softly. “I definitely agree with that, and just as gorgeous as him too.” She said, placing a kiss on her head.
“Your second son.” Katsumi did the honors of handing him his child. This time, the two toned eyes outright glared at him. “It would seem that here is your legacy, Otouto.” he commented. The pup then growled, the small rumbling sound vibrating his hands. To the astonishment of the adults in the room and the newborn pup he held, Sesshomaru, lord of the western lands, laughed softly and he gently rubbed one miniature puppy ear. “He has your obstinacy.”
“Why do I feel like I being insulted?” Inuyasha asked, his smile belying his words. He lay the boy down on the bed in the valley created by Kagome’s legs, facing her, then he took their daughter from her hands. The girl child started to glare, but then seemed to catch sight of his ear twitching. He moved them deliberately and was rewarded with a smile that melted him right through.
“It seems she has inherited a few other things from her mother as well.” Sesshomaru said lowly as he handed her the child he held.
Laughing before groaning softly, Kagome grinned. Gently rubbing the small ears of the pup she started to feed, she agreed, “yes, a fascination for cute things.”
“And a beautiful smile.” Inuyasha added, not taking his eyes off the treasure in his arms. He still felt the pleasure his words brought her and noted the light blush that stained her cheeks.
Kogirei brought the last pup to him. “Your third son, my lord.” She handed him over happily. “If you and your mates continue to be so fertile, you will certainly restore life to the great houses all on your own in no time.” She received one cold stare and two hot glares, followed by another wince from Kagome. Tickled, the kitsune allowed the new family to get to know each other in privacy as she went to get the other children. They would certainly wish to know their mother was well and to meet their new brothers and sister.
Sesshomaru softened his glare, afraid that he may have frightened the pup, but he just looked up at him contently. Something about this child reminded him of his father, a wise aura that seemed to know all the secrets the world had ever held. The boy never looked away from him as he stroked his soft downy cheek.
Sesshomaru did not think he had ever been filled with such emotion as he was now, as if all that had been taken from him by time and countless wars was now returning in the form of four tiny miracles. He would be forever grateful to his mates for the gift of their children. A glance in their direction assured him that they felt the same.
Inuyasha laid the baby girl down next to her sleeping brother on the bed, taking his son from Kagome. He still appeared grumpy, like he was fighting the lull of sleep. After she had fed the other twin, he laid them down on the bed as well, watching as they all seemed to curl around each other. “I don’t see how they fit in there at all.” He commented after a while of admiring the four.
“Me either.” Kagome said tiredly, leaning back against her pillows. “Why don’t you carry the next four and find out.”
Still in a great mood, all he could do was chuckle at the heavy sarcasm in her voice. Any comment Sesshomaru would have added was cut off by the sound of two excited voices trying their very best to be quiet. Shi lead Rin and Shippo to the bed where the stared open mouthed in awe and wonder at their new siblings. Katsumi also joined the group, making their pack nearly complete. The stayed until Kagome drifted off to sleep, exhaustion finely taking its toll on her fatigued body.
Katsumi sat on the balcony ledge, her new great granddaughter held firmly in her hands. The child reminded her a lot of her daughter, from her starkly white hair to the piercing look in her lovely eyes. The pup contemplated her so seriously, with a small frown upon her tiny cupid bow mouth, it made the eldest chuckle softly. “What a strong, fierce one you are.” She held the baby close and took in her scent. There was something there, Katsumi snuggled the girl, breathing deeply again. A grin spread across her face. My, my, she thought, what surprises this life could bring, even to one as old as she.
“She is a fine one, isn’t she?” Shikyomi left Kagome to rest after seeing to it the boy pups were slumbering contently after their meal. Kagome was doing well too, so long as she rested the next day or so. Within a week, she should be fully healed, with a little help from Kogirei. Shi looked out at the setting sun, gracing them with shades of red, reflected back perfectly on the calm surface of the lake.“This one is special, indeed.” Her blue eyes sparkled, amused by the curious look that her daughter gave her. Grinning, Katsumi handed Shikyomi the pup, whispering her discovery to her, making her look at the child in near shock. “The inuyokai are truly a blessed race, are we not?” She laughed as she walked away, determined more than ever to protect her pack and this newest marvel the kami’s had given to them.