Labor. I can't even remember. I think I eventually passed out from the pain. I remember I cried, grabbed onto whatever I could to brace myself (I neglected to mention I gave birth in our house), and was denied any kind of painkiller by Meiko who told me that I wouldn't be good for the baby. Then it went black. I woke up later in a cold sweat. I looked at my toes through my eyelashes and realized it was the first time I could see them in nearly four months. Then I opened my eyes fully.
To my right stood Meiko, staring over me at whatever was on my left. Haku was leaning next to her, looking in the same general direction. On my left, Lily was sitting on the edge of the bed, holding something while Miriam looked on. Several of the girls were along the far wall.
"You know," Lily said, not taking her eyes off what she was holding, "I think I have a pretty safe bet if we'd cast lots on the father of this baby, Luka-chan."
I propped myself on my elbows. She twisted herself around to show me my baby. She handed it to me. I nearly cried.
"What is it?"
"Uh, your baby?"
"She meant to ask that it's a boy," Miriam said to Lily sharply.
A boy. I looked at him. My son. This infant was my son. I had no idea what I was in for these next few years, but for now, it was a peaceful moment I had with my baby and my sisters.
"Name it, Nee-san!" Ring yelled from the corner. Rion nodded in agreement.
"I don't name him without his father."
"Well, then…" Lily said, getting to her feet.
"I mean the one who wants to be his father."
"From what I heard, you and I are thinking of the same person anyway," she said before leaving, Sonika at her side.
I finally looked down to really examine my baby boy. His skin was still kind of mottled and his eyes still weren't open. I looked at his face – far from perfect, but what mother could actually think that about her child? He started to writhe in my arms. I didn't know anything about babies.
"Why is he doing this?" I asked the closest face to mine, which happened to be Meiko's.
"Maybe he's just enjoying the new legroom," Haku said. Neru was not amused and hit the back of her head.
"Well, let's go through the basic needs: try feeding him," Meiko said.
"Feed him? Feed him what?"
"Well, it sure as hell won't be soba, now, will it?" said Merli from the side table.
Okay, I lied: I knew a few things about babies. So, after the time it took for an instinct to kick in, I did the first natural thing I could think of: I pulled the over-large collar down my chest and offered the child my breast. He didn't take to it right away, but after a minute of taking Haku's and Lola's suggestions, he did. Okay: problem solved for the time being.
I pulled the sheet the ladies had him wrapped in away from his head slightly to see what I thought would be a perfectly round, bald crest. But I was wrong. His head, though far from covered in full locks, was already sprouting the smallest covering of hair colored…magenta.
Perhaps fuchsia. Or primrose.
This must've been a clue.
"Wait, I take it back: we aren't ready for you," Lily's voice said from the doorway. She poked her head in and said sharply, "Luka, put your boob away. They wanna see the baby." I obliged; Lily smiled her approval.
"Ok, boys, here's the new addition!" she announced. The room was extremely crowded now – there were no less than forty of us in here, plus the bed – but also unnaturally quiet. Lily gestured at me and my son.
"Anyone wanna bet who Daddy is?"
No one spoke. Then Miku's hand went up.
"Twenty yen on Kaito!"
"One: too young for gambling," Meiko scolded, "and two: twenty? Really? You can do better than that, I go three hundred on Gakupo."
"If you're speaking in terms of biological father, I can't support your bet, Sakine-san." Not entirely unexpectedly, Gakupo stepped forward. "However, I have already spoken with Megurine-san, and since no one has stepped up to it, I promised to accept the parental role for the child."
"What?" asked what I think was Len's voice from the corner.
"Gakupo wants to be the dad," his sister said.
"Kamui-san, about that…" He turned to me.
I beckoned him nearer me and the baby. He looked at the mossy growth on his head.
"Yeah, we already kinda assumed you were it," Lily said.
"So," I said, tucking him back under the sheet and refusing to meet Gakupo's eyes, "would you like to name your son or should I?"