“She’s not sun burnt. She’s probably just hungry.”
The mother scissored one of her breasts and led it to the baby girl’s shrieking mouth. Curious little lips ringed the nipple and suckled. Kira felt a strong pinch of pain, but she didn’t pull away.
Vrox could only watch as his daughter sucked on the breast he sucked with his own mouth many times. The little thing was pink. Her scale-less skin was covered in green paste and small splotches of white. She was smaller than his forearm, and her fists the size of his thumb.
There was nothing imposing about her. All she did was wiggle insignificantly, but Vrox could not look away. She was remarkable in her simplicity.
He had spoken to her when she was in her mother’s womb. He told her about his day, and his worries, and his hopes, but today, he had no words to give. He could only stare at the wiggling, multicolored ball of confusion and hunger as it suckled on her mother’s breast.
He looked down when his hand reached his chest. His heart was thundering. It was saying the words his mouth couldn’t– I love you.
He fell in love a second time, and it was just as dizzying as the first.
He looked at first love and found her crying. “Kira?”
“We’re parents, Vrox.”
Tears kept falling. She was in pain, but it wasn’t the cause of her tears. Her daughter was so blinding in her beauty; a sun that demanded rain. So Kira cried. She didn’t mind the pain in her body. Her daughter was all the morphine she needed.
“Parents,” Vrox repeated, testing the word.
Brother, lover, commander, and now father.
“I thought I wouldn’t make it,” Kira sobbed, her breast trembling against the baby’s mouth. “She came too early, and I didn’t feel contractions throughout the pregnancy. I thought I messed up, but she’s okay.”
“You have blessed Ezron today.” He rested his cheek on her arm and watched their baby. There was no longer a barrier between him and the baby. She was a part of this world now; a citizen of Ezron. What were the first words he wanted to say to her?
“I am proud of you, seeding. You have grown into a flower.”
The baby continued to drink, and Vrox swallowed the emotion that clogged his throat.
It only took minutes for the baby to fall asleep. Her healthily round belly rose and fell fast, and her lips occasionally twitched around Kira’s breast.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but I really think we need to clean you up, Kira. You’re bleeding lightly, and I think it’s going to continue for a few weeks. We need to find you a pad and change the furs. They’re wet.”
“Yeah,” Kira nodded, although she was losing the fight against sleep. “I can’t move, though. My stomach hurts too much.”
Vrox gently slid his arms under her back and legs. He lifted her slowly, not wanting to alert the baby. When she was in his arms, Nebula stripped away the wet and bloody furs. She rummaged through a corner, pulled out fresh ones, and re-dressed the bed.
He pulled away when he realized that he had been nuzzling Kira’s hair. He placed her on the bed and extended his hand to Nebula. “I will do it. Give me the rag.”
Nebula handed the cloth that she planned on wiping Kira with.
“I’m sorry,” a bleary Kira said. “I would clean myself, but everything hurts.”
“It is fine,” Vrox replied. “This is just like old times.”
Kira smiled, remembering those sweet ‘old times.’
“I’ll get you some pads,” Nebula said.
“Thanks. Sorry that you had to dive into my vagina. I know you didn’t sign up for that.”
Nebula snorted. “We’re the only two… well, three girls here. We have to help each other out.” With a wink, she walked outside. “Ni’ev, stop kneeling. I need to go to my room.”
“But I am showing my respect to the princess.”
“The princess is fifteen minutes old. The only thing she understands is hunger.”
“Very well,” Ni’ev grumbled and led her away.
“Is it bad down there?” Kira asked, glancing at Vrox.
“It is a victorious battlefield.”
“In other words, I’m a mess?”
“No. You are a warrior that brought victory to her nation.”
She laughed, only to pause when her stomach hurt. She was aching in strange places, sweaty everywhere, and dry-lipped. Sleep was calling her name, but she didn’t want to part ways with the baby.
Nebula returned minutes later. Ni’ev didn’t dare to peek inside.
“Here are the pads.”
She felt Vrox smear some paste on her and grinned. “Just like old times, huh? Remember when you thought my vagina was an injury?”
He shook his head. “How could I forget my foolishness?”
“Pretty memorable…” she blinked heavily. When she had a pad secured and a blanket tossed over her lower half, she said, “You have to take her. I need to sleep.”
“My nails,” Vrox shook his head. “I cannot hold her until I dull them. Nebula?′
Nebula walked to Kira’s side and extended her arms.
“Take care of her, okay?” Kira pleaded.
“Nothing will happen,” Vrox swore. “I will be here.”
Kira nodded. If there’s one thing she would never doubt, it’s that Vrox would keep them safe. She handed the baby to Nebula and stared until she fell asleep.
“The crib is outside. Can you pull it in?” Nebula requested.
Vrox did just that. Kira built it herself, although she never got to decorate it. Vrox made sure that the furs provided enough padding and then nodded. Nebula lowered the sleeping baby and watched the father gently wipe her down.
“You can go rest,” he told her. “I will watch over my females.”
“Okay. By the way, congratulations.”
He kneeled beside the makeshift crib and stared at his daughter, looking for anything out of place. A thin, soft blanket covered her, but he could still see her fast breathing. She looked more human than Ezronian, her ears being curved instead of pointy, her nose button-shaped. Would her eyes have whites like Kira? Or black like his own?
He couldn’t wait to find out.
The baby woke up every few hours, crying with demands for food. Nebula would come in and carry her to Kira. The process repeated three times in the night.
He looked at Kira, who finally woke up.
“You’re holding her?”
He smiled. “Yes. I clipped my nails.”
Kira wanted to cry all over again, because the sight of a giant alien awkwardly holding his daughter was too much. He held her diapered bottom with one hand, and her head with the other as if terrified of dropping her.
“How do you feel?” he asked.
He sighed, wishing he could do more to help. He placed the baby next to her and revealed the stew that Nebula made. She ate slowly, as if swallowing hurt her, too.
“Vrox,” Ni’ev called from the entrance.
“What is it?”
“The men await your word.”
Kira choked on a bite. “Don’t tell me they’ve been out there all night!”
“Of course they have. They were paying their respects.”
“Are they crazy? Tell them to go home before they hurt themselves.”
Vrox kissed Kira’s forehead and walked outside. He stared at the fifty-something men that were indeed kneeling before the pyramid.
“Last night, your high mother gifted us a child. A female.”
The yells and cries were deafening. The baby woke up and screamed along with her people.
– • –
“Are you sure this is the entire thing?”
Draekon stared at the baby resting on Vrox’s naked chest.
“I asked the same thing,” Vrox admitted.
“So there is nothing else? This is the entire thing?” Draekon insisted.
“Of course that is the entire thing,” Ni’ev answered.
“I do not know,” Ak agreed. “She is the size of a foot. Kira, are you sure you do not have the rest of her in your stomach?”
“No, guys. Babies are just small.”
“This small? I do not believe you,” Draekon insisted.
A loud shriek made the men stumble back. Rokan tripped and crashed down.
“You angered her by insulting her mother,” Vrox said.
“Stop being silly. She’s hungry again. Give her to me.”
Vrox glared at his brothers, dismissing them out of the room. He refused to let them watch Kira nurse their child.
“You know…” Kira said as she untied her shirt. “It has been a week, and we still haven’t named her.”
“That is your honor. You birthed her.”
Kira raised an eyebrow. “So you don’t care what I name her?”
“No. I could call her my little flower forever. That is what she is.”
“I was thinking…” she said as she adjusted the baby on her chest. “I mean, this might be stupid, but I– I want to name her something important. Something that I love and don’t want to forget.”
“What is it?”
“Yes. It means Earth. It means my home. Do you hate it? I have other-”
“Terra is perfect.”
Kira looked down at her chest. “Yeah, she sure is.”
The next four weeks were a strange mix of a nightmare and a dream. Her sleep schedule was fucked up, since Terra loved eating. She would wake up shrieking every three hours, demanding breastmilk. She was a spirited baby, too. When it was time to change her diaper, she would kick out her little legs. Vrox ate her up. He jumped at any chance to change her diaper or bathe her. He would talk to her like they were best friends, and would laugh as if she was hysterical.
Kira didn’t mind the help. She was still weak. It would take time before she felt normal.
Something was keeping her up at night. Terra was a girl. According to Ezronian law, this disqualified her from getting the commander title once she came of age. Kira planned how she would approach the problem, because she knew it would upset Vrox. He wouldn’t want to change the culture, so she had to think of something that sat on a grey area. What if Terra underwent trials when she reached a certain age? If she failed, her siblings could undergo the same trials until a winner was found. It was the fairest system Kira could think of.
“When will her teeth grow?”
“Forget about her teeth. What about her limbs? When do they get longer?”
“Why does her feces smell so bad?”
Kira looked at Terra’s uncles. They surrounded the bed, staring at her as if she was the scaled, enormous alien in the room.
The baby was resting on Vrox’s chest and blinking at the men.
“Babies are strange.”
“Alright boys,” Kira interrupted. “That’s enough bullying Terra for the day. Off you go.”
The men grumbled as they left, but made sure to bump their knuckles with Terra’s little fist as a good-bye.
“Vrox, can we talk about something?”
“Do you need more of your pads?”
Kira sighed at the reminder that she hadn’t stopped bleeding since she gave birth. Terra was a blessing, but she messed up the mother’s insides.
“No. I need to talk to you about Terra.”
“What do you need?”
“She’s a girl.”
Vrox chuckled. “I have noticed this.”
“Um... I was thinking that we could revisit our conversation. Can I ask some questions about–”
“Not again, Kira.”
“I know it may be intimidating that I'm from a foreign place but I promise I'll be reasonable. We can talk things out like old times. Remember when you didn't want me to train? We worked something out.”
“There is no need to. I will change nothing. You will demand change. I cannot give it to you.”
“You know I'm not that unfair. I thought last time I brought this up you just had a bad day but...”
“But you still see me a threat instead of like a friend."
He had no response for this.
“Maybe...” she murmured. “We need a break to think.”
“What?” he bristled.
"We need some time to remember who we are. Don’t worry, I won’t use my womb as leverage to get what I want. Whatever happens, I’ll birth you as many children as possible.”
“Kira,” he growled low in his throat.
“It's for the best.” She pushed off the bed and slowly walked out of the room.