Kagome frowned as Inuyasha sagged in her arms. He had insisted on going to the rescue even though he had no energy for it. He had barely recovered from dying and yet he forced her hand. She had to go with him. He hadn't even let her put proper clothes on him. He was still wearing the tattered blood-soaked robe from earlier. She could feel the wetness seeping into her own clothing but she ignored it. Her discomfort was far from her main concern. She was worried about Inuyasha and his son. If anything happened to Kuniku she wasn't sure what would happen, but she was certain that it would devastate her friend.
For his part, Inuyasha kept his eyes closed so he didn't have to watch the sickening blur of the scenery. The movement of the horse made his stomach twist in rebellion, threatening to empty of all contents. His death and resurrection left him feeling so weak. He knew that he shouldn't have gotten out of bed, but his son's life was at stake. There was no justification for laying in bed while that monster had his child and he still had life in his body. Perhaps he would be of no use in a battle, but he needed to know for certain that Kuniku was all right. His hands gripped the horse's mane as he gave it a weak squeeze with his knees.
Kagome leaned forward. "Did you say something?"
"Faster, we need to go faster," Inuyasha wheezed, trying to urge the horse onward.
"We can't. The horse can only go so fast Inuyasha."
Inuyasha frowned. "We have to go faster."
"The others are doing what they can. We will get there when we get there, hopefully when they've gotten Kuniku back." Kagome replied, holding her friend tightly as she felt him waver.
"What if they don't?"
"What if they don't get him back?" Inuyasha's voice was strained as he forced the question from his mouth.
"Don't even think such a thing," Kagome said harshly. "They will get him back. Everything will be fine if you just have faith in everyone."
"I do...I'm just...just so scared," Inuyasha admitted in a whisper that was barely heard over the hoof beats of the horse.
"I know. I am too, but you know they will do everything to get him back safe. You have to believe. Everything will be alright." Her arms tightened around his waist as she nuzzled him comfortingly.
"I hope so."
"I know so," she replied firmly, reassuring herself just as much as him.
"He's not real," Sango yelled from where she and Kilala were battling Naraku’s tentacles. "We have to get to the totem and this puppet will disappear."
"We're trying," Miroku called back, batting away a tentacle with his staff. He really wished that there weren't hundreds of wasps hovering in the air around them. They weren't attacking, but they still prevented him from fighting as effectively as he could. If only there were some way to get rid of them. A tentacle flew out at him but was stopped by a giant paw.
"Watch yourself," Sesshomaru growled as he battled the tentacles.
"Yes," Miroku vaulted back, studying the battlefield from a sturdy tree branch. Naraku was focusing most of his attention on Sesshomaru. They either needed to draw the demon's attention away from Sesshomaru or destroy the totem themselves. Miroku looked up at the wasps hovering over the clearing. He judged their distance carefully. Without warning, he pulled the beads from his wind tunnel, opening up the great hole, aiming straight at Naraku.
"Miroku!" Sango yelled frantically. She threw her weapon, desperately trying to take out some of the wasps that were moving towards Miroku.
Miroku didn't waver, completely focused on his task. Naraku turned as he felt the pull of the wind tunnel. The distraction was enough. Sesshomaru snapped his jaw shut over the wooden totem, crushing it between his sharp teeth. Naraku's puppet exploded in a puff of putrid black smoke. Miroku quickly looped the beads back over his hand and dove from the tree as some of the closer wasps headed for him. Miroku landed on his feet and swatted a few of the angry wasps. Without leadership, the insects quickly began to retreat.
"What were you thinking!" Sango yelled at the monk as she leaped from Kilala’s back and ran to Miroku.
"We had to get rid of him. I provided a distraction and Sesshomaru used the opening to destroy the totem," Miroku said calmly.
"You could have been stung," Sango argued.
"The risk was worth it. While we have gotten rid of Naraku's current incarnation, we have yet to find Kuniku," the monk pointed out.
As the two humans stood off to the side talking, Sesshomaru quickly circled the clearing, sorting out the scents in order to track down his son. His ears perked up at a swiftly approaching sound. Cocking his head, he identified the sound of a single horse that was most probably carrying two riders. He lifted his nose to the air, but the horse was downwind. He waited as the horse approached. It was only a moment before the horse galloped into the clearing that had been mowed down by Naraku's passing. Sesshomaru's eyes narrowed as he stomped forward.
"What are you doing here?" He barked out upon seeing Inuyasha sitting limply on the front of the horse. "I told you to keep him home," Sesshomaru growled at the girl supporting his brother.
"I tried! But he said he'd come with or without me. I thought it would be better if I was with him," Kagome called back, trying not to wince at the anger that showed on the dog demon's face.
Inuyasha slowly raised his head. "I needed to come." His voice was strained, his breathing harsh and his skin pale, but his jaw was set in a firm line of stubborn determination.
Sesshomaru shook his head. "You are stubborn. Get onto my back, you shall come with me." Sesshomaru laid out on the ground. Kagome helped Inuyasha off the horse. Miroku and Sango moved forward help Inuyasha onto the dog demon's back. They laid the weakened Inuyasha on his brother's neck, making sure he was settled in before stepping back. Inuyasha clutched Sesshomaru's fur tightly as his brother stood up carefully. Sesshomaru turned to the humans. "I want you to return to the castle. Aid Jaken and the servants in the cleanup and repairs to the castle. We shall return shortly."
"But what about Kuniku?" Kagome frowned.
"We shall return with him shortly."
"And my brother?" Sango asked quietly.
"We shall see." With that Sesshomaru turned and moved off in the direction of his son's scent.
"Can you smell him? Is he okay?" Inuyasha asked worriedly, clutching his brother's fur tightly as the moved swiftly through the forest.
"I can. He is unharmed. You should not worry, we will get him back Inuyasha." Sesshomaru moved steadily forward, following the scents of Kohaku and Kuniku.
"I'm so scared," Inuyasha whispered into Sesshomaru's fur.
"Fear not. No harm shall come to him. We are getting close, the trail is fresher here."
Inuyasha nodded silently as he clung to his brother's broad back. He felt so helpless. He really wanted to get down and run after his son, but he didn't have the strength. When it came down to it, he couldn't protect his child. Naraku had taken him with hardly a fight. It was all because of his weak human form. Maybe he should continue to find the jewel shards in order to become a full demon. What use was he if he couldn't protect his own child? Yet even as the thought crossed his mind, a small voice in his head reminded him that his life would be much different if he was a full demon. He might not have Kuniku now. Inuyasha looked up as Sesshomaru paused. "What is it? What's wrong?"
"I smell Rin and your fox demon. They have joined up with Kuniku and Kohaku." He walked forward a few more steps. "They are heading towards the castle."
Inuyasha chewed on his lip as he looked off in the distance, just able to make out the castle. "What does that mean?"
"I believe that it means Rin has put her persuasive powers to good use and done what we could not. Mainly, rescuing her brother."
Inuyasha held his breath before slowly releasing it. "Do you think so?"
"We shall find out. Hold on tightly." No sooner were the words out of his mouth than he set a much faster pace following the scent trail, which led almost directly to the castle. Inuyasha watched the dark form of the castle grow larger and larger before they finally came to a halt in the courtyard. Sesshomaru laid out of his stomach and Inuyasha slid down to the ground. His legs gave out and he ended up sitting in the dirt, struggling to get back to his feet. Sesshomaru shifted back to his human form and lifted his brother into his arms. "Come, they're close."
Sesshomaru walked through the halls until he ended up in front of the door to Rin's room. Within, he heard the soft lull of voices. He carefully slid the door aside to reveal all four children sitting on Rin's large bed. Kuniku was sleeping and Rin was petting him softly as she chattered to Kohaku and Shippo.
Inuyasha gasped. "Kuniku!" The word burst past his lips as a sob. He reached out his arms and Sesshomaru carried him to the bed, laying him down gently. Inuyasha reverently gathered Kuniku in his arms and kissed him gently as tears of relief poured down his face.
Sesshomaru looked at Shippo and Kohaku. "Take Kohaku to his sister's chambers, they shall be arriving shortly."
"Ok," Shippo nodded as he bounced up and motioned for Kohaku to follow him.
The young demon hunter stood and bowed. "I am sorry Lord Sesshomaru, Lord Inuyasha." He kept his eyes lowered as he quickly left the room, sliding the door shut.
Sesshomaru picked up Rin and sat on the bed, settling her into his lap. He wrapped his arm around Inuyasha and pulled him against his shoulder. Inuyasha melted into his side easily, his flagging strength leaving him. Sesshomaru's hand carded through his dirty blood-caked hair, but he did not attempt to move Inuyasha from his son's side. There would be plenty of time for bathing later. For now all that was needed was a good night's sleep to recover with their small family gathered closely together.