Title: Spoils of War
Pairing: Izayoi/ Inu no Taisho
Summary: The time has come for Izayoi to give birth to her son. Fifth and last part of "Battle".
He was running.
His iron clad feet thundered upon the forest floor, gathering up dust and leaving dirt in their wake. The precious cargo he carried on his back moaned in pain and clutched at his fur pelt with ardor.
"Izayoi," the Inu no Taisho pleaded as he turned his head to glance back at his wife, "hold on."
"I-it hurts…hurts s-so much." She gasped and tightened the grasp of her thighs around his waist. "The p-pain, it's stronger now…n-nearly no break, n-no remission."
The Inu no Taisho frowned and doubled his pace.
The labor pains started at day break. The back ache that plagued Izayoi the night before turned into the tightening of her womb come the morning, and there was no doubt the birth was nigh. They set out almost at once, passing village after village, looking for a human midwife that would be kind enough to receive the delivery. The Inu no Taisho started the journey assured of their success in finding the help they needed, surely in a village so close close his castle, once he identified himself; but come midday, it dawned on him that they were in quite a serious predicament.
Every single village they passed on their frantic way turned them down.
In some villages they were chased away with harsh words, while in others a shower of stones was their guide out. The villagers would simply bar themselves in their huts, or shout profanities at them as they left.
Nothing helped. No promises of riches, divine retribution, or the ultimate threat of his ire seemed to tempt the reluctant villagers to help them; and so sundown found them still running, an hour after the waters that surrounded their child leaked from Izayoi's womb and into the fur pelt of her demon husband.
"A-anata," Izayoi whispered, the sound of her voice faint even to his sensitive ear, "I'm scared…"
The Inu no Taisho tightened his hold on her thighs, minding his claws so that they wouldn't puncture her skin.
"Take heart, beloved," he tried to sooth her, "There is another village up ahead."
They entered the village to the sound of the alarm bell being rung. Hysterical villagers ran from them to the safety of their huts, minding not the pleas and imploring of the demon. In mere minutes, the Inu no Taisho and Izayoi, who was shaking uncontrollably, stood alone in the center of the village.
The demon Lord seethed with rage.
"Is that how you repay the guardian of this province?" He bellowed loud enough for all the cowering humans to hear, "It is only by my power that your lands are kept safe! I could eradicate this pathetic excuse for a village if only I wi-"
The Inu no Taisho turned to the source of the interruption. Before him stood a young woman about Izayoi's age; her kosode was very simple, but clean and her sleeves were rolled up and tied, to indicate that she was ready for hard work. Her hair was set in a headscarf, to keep it out of the way while she toiled.
"I heard you were seeking aid," she said, "I am Kiku, and I am the local midwife."
The Inu no Taisho looked at her in bewilderment.
"You?" he asked incredulously, "but you are only a slip of a girl! Isn't there someone more experienced than you? Someone…older?"
The young woman placed her hands on her hips, looking at him unimpressed.
"I assure you, youkai-sama," she said haughtily, "I've been practicing midwifery for the past twelve years, ever since I was a little girl and helped my mother deliver babies; you will not find someone as capable as me." She looked behind him at the whimpering Izayoi and added, "Besides, you haven't got the time or the ability to find anyone else. Come, you are welcome to use my hut."
She led them to a somewhat secluded hut that stood not far from the narrow river that crossed the village. Once inside, Kiku laid out some cloth on the wooden floor and indicated that Izayoi be placed there.
"Come," she said and gestured towards the spot, "lay her down here and help me undress her."
The Inu no Taisho and Kiku helped Izayoi off the fur pelt and unto the floor. Undressing the human princess turned to be a difficult task, since she could no longer move without assistance; she lay on the floor, as curled up as she could, and panted heavily. After a few tries the midwife and the demon lord managed to remove all the unnecessary layers of dress from Izayoi, leaving her only in a simple white yukata. Kiku caressed Izayoi's head gently and tried to help her to her back.
"What is your name, my lady?" She asked her softly.
Izayoi manages to heave out her name.
"Now, Izayoi-sama, I need you to spread your legs for me so I can check your progress. Can you manage?"
While Izayoi nodded and tried to comply, Kiku turned towards the Inu no Taisho and gestured with her head.
"Now you wait outside, youkai-sama."
The Inu no Taisho crossed his hands over his chest in defiance.
"Out of the question." He said in a tone that indicated that there will be no negotiating the subject.
Kiku, however, turned out to be quite stubborn herself.
"A man must not be present in the birthing chamber. It is unheard of." She answered calmly.
"I am not leaving my wife." The Inu no Taisho growled.
Kiku narrowed her eyes at him and scrutinized him for a moment. Then she shrugged as if to say, 'suit yourself', and turned back to Izayoi. She spread the princess' legs with one hand and inserted the other into her vaginal canal. Izayoi yelped and the Inu no Taisho griped the hilt of his sword instinctively.
"If you do anything to hurt her," he said menacingly, "I will end you, woman."
Kiku sighed and withdrew her hand, wiping it clean on her apron.
"Relax, youkai-sama, I am only assessing the situation. Your wife's womb is now completely open and is ready to expel the child." She turned to Izayoi and smiled gently. "You hear that, Izayoi-sama? A couple of pushes and the baby is out and in your waiting arms. Isn’t it great?"
But Izayoi seemed to be in another world. Her eyes were glazed over and she tossed her head from side to side. Kiku frowned and massaged the princess' naked thigh.
"Izayoi-sama!" she called urgently, "Izayoi-sama, can you hear me? I need you to focus now!"
Izayoi turned to look at the Inu no Taisho who was standing in the corner of the hut, nearly sick with worry.
"Anata…"she breathed, "The child…it is tearing me from the inside. I think I'm dying."
The Inu no Taisho fell to his knees before the laboring woman. He took her hand, noting with concern how cold and clammy it was. He kissed her forehead and brushed away her sweaty bangs with his free hand.
"Beloved," he said softly, "you are not dying. This is just labor pain. Our child will soon be here, just…just bear it a little while longer. "
Kiku's eyes peaked from between Izayoi's thighs.
"This will not be easy," she said and shook her head, "Your wife is very small and the child seems to be bigger than average…can you get her to focus? She must push; I'll try to help as much as I can."
The Inu no Taisho nodded and turned back to look at his wife who was by now rigid with pain and growing alarmingly pale. She seemed to notice his worried gaze and squeezed his hand wanly.
"Burn my body and bury me in the garden, " she whispered, "under the cherry trees I love so much."
The Inu no Taisho shook his head.
"No," he said, "I refuse to listen to this nonsense; you are not dying!"
Tears began to leak out of Izayoi's beautiful eyes and her lips trembled.
"I-I'm sorry," she cried, "I'm sorry, anata, I c-can't…"
"Alright, "Kiku said and rose to her knees, "That's it."
She knelt over Izayoi and pressed on her stomach, making the princess scream in pain. Before the Inu no Taisho had the chance to howl at the midwife in rage, she turned to him, sweating with exertion.
"Before you threaten to kill me for hurting your wife, let me explain, "she puffed with strain, "I am pushing the child out of her body, because she cannot."
The demon lord nodded curtly and turned to look at his ailing wife, her beautiful face set in a terrible grimace.
A couple of agonizing presses had the child practically flying out Izayoi. Kiku caught him with expert hands, cut the umbilical cord and wrapped him in a clean cloth. She placed him in the Inu no Taisho's hands and turned back to Izayoi, to deliver the afterbirth.
The Inu no Taisho vaguely heard her mumble something about there being too much blood, but the little babe in his arms claimed his undivided attention with his flailing little fists and his adorable fuzzy ears. He was very pretty for a hanyou, with a mop of silver curls on his lovely head.
A son; he had another son.
"Izayoi," he smiled, "He is beautiful. Our son is beautiful."
When he didn't hear Izayoi's response, the Inu no Taisho raised his adoring gaze from his newborn son, only to find a very pale midwife and an even paler princess lying immobile in a pool of her own blood. Her eyes were wide open, but unseeing, and her slightly parted lips were slack with death.
"S-she b-bled out, " Kiku stammered, very much aware of her own imminent demise, "I-it happened within minutes, there was nothing I could do."
The Inu no Taisho thrust the wailing child into the pliant hands of the terrified midwife and drew out a sword, making her flinch and cower in fear.
"Stand back," he ordered and Kiku was only too happy to comply.
The demon lord gripped the hilt of the sword tightly.
"Tenseiga," he pleaded with the blade," I beg of you!"
It took only a second. The sword pulsed in his hand and the shadowy minions of the underworld appeared before his astonished eyes, clawing at Izayoi's dead body. Without a moment's hesitation, he swung the sword expertly and sliced the demons in two.
Izayoi gasped for air, the color rushing to her face. Kiku cried out in alarm from somewhere at the back of the hut. The Inu no Taisho breathed out a sigh of relief and sheathed his sword. He fell to his knees before Izayoi and crushed her to his chest.
"Izayoi…" he whispered into her neck. She caressed his silver hair and held his head pressed to her skin.
"There, there, "she cooed, "I'm alive; I'm alright, thanks to you, anata."
Kiku approached the strange couple and offered the child to his waiting mother, who wasted no time in offering the baby a breast, which he eagerly accepted. The demon lord stood up, fumbled with something in his belt and took out a heavy purse, thrusting it into Kiku's hand. The midwife stepped back.
"N-no, I cannot take this. This is too much!" She mumbled.
"Take is, Kiku-sama, "Izayoi said quietly, not looking up from her child, "you deserve it. You saved my son's life, and I am eternally grateful to you."
Kiku took the purse reluctantly and looked up from it in amazement at the unbelievable little family before her. The demon lord, who was once again on his knees, held his human wife while she fed their hanyou son, with so much care and gentleness that it was almost surreal.
"You know, Youkai-sama," she said before she could stop herself, "you are very strange."
The Inu no Taisho smirked and looked up at her.
"Why?" he asked, "because I loved a human woman enough to wed her and give her a son?"
Kiku shrugged and cocked her head to the side.
"No," she said simply, "because you love."
The Inu no Taisho smiled genuinely and Kiku understood what Izayoi saw in the demon. His youthful, handsome face showed nothing but love and happiness. He lowered his head back to his wife and kissed her head adoringly.
Kiku breathed out a sigh she didn't realize she was holding.
Soon after that they rose to leave. The Inu no Taisho helped his wife into her clothes, while the protesting midwife held the sleeping newborn.
"You can't leave so soon", she cried, "Izayoi-sama has just given birth, she must rest!"
The Inu no Taisho took the child out of her arms and passed him to Izayoi.
"The Tenseiga is a reviving sword, "he said, looking at his wife and son lovingly, "it heals every wound and gives strength. There is no need for us to tarry here. We will not impose on you any further, Kiku-sama."
They thanked the midwife profusely and bowed low before her. Then the demon lord picked up his wife in his arms and turned to leave. Kiku blushed and waived them goodbye from the entrance of her hut, disappearing inside the moment they were out of the village. Once in the solitude of her hut, she lay down on the floor and breathed out.
What a story to tell! Who'd ever believe her? A youkai that loves, a sword that revives the dead and a bag of gold that can buy her an entire castle with vassals and servants! What a fable!
Kiku turned around with her head to the wall and sighed.
"And now, "she thought peacefully, "sleep."