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Flesh of his Flesh

Chapter Text

A howl split the night and echoed through the surrounding area. On the forest floor, Inuyasha writhed with pain. He clutched his round swollen stomach tightly and moaned.

Miroku pressed a wet cloth to his friend's face. "Just breathe. We will help you through this."
Inuyasha whimpered in response, his fists tightening as his eyes screwed shut and he cried out again. His body shuddered in pain. "Out." He panted. "Out now."

"Yes.” He turned to the girl standing beside him. “Sango, please hold him still.”

She nodded silently and sat down behind Inuyasha, pulling his head into her lap and holding his shoulders. Once Miroku was sure that his friend was secure, he drew out a blade. Spreading a numbing salve over the half-demon's stomach he then began to cut through his skin. Inuyasha bit his lip and Sango moved the wet cloth over his face. She was watching in strange fascination as Miroku cut their friend open. He went slowly, cutting through layers of soft tissue and then stopped. Blood soaked the leaf-littered ground as the monk reached his hand into Inuyasha's stomach, shifting organs and causing Inuyasha to moan in pain.

“Almost there,” Miroku said as he slowly drew out a small pink bundle.

Inuyasha's eyes snapped open as he felt the child that had been growing within him removed. His gaze was trained on Miroku as the monk reverently cradled the tiny child and severed the final cord that connected it to Inuyasha. Miroku used the end of his robe to wipe away some of the blood that covered the small child. The baby's parentage was obvious by the tiny white dog-ears peeping from a thatch of pink tinted hair and small wet tail.

Miroku looked up at Inuyasha and smiled softly. "It is a boy."

Inuyasha held out his arms and Miroku handed him the tiny child. Inuyasha cradled his new infant, staring in complete awe at the small life in his hands. He was hardly aware of Miroku's delivery of the afterbirth or being sewed together with herb soaked thread. His attention was fixed fully on his child that squirmed and mewed in his arms.

"He is very beautiful," Sango whispered as she reached out to touch a small waving foot.

"I know."

"You should rest Inuyasha, we will fetch some water to bathe him," Miroku said putting his hand on Inuyasha's shoulder.

"I am resting," the dog demon replied as his eyes drooped in exhaustion.

"Would you like us to send Kagome over to wait with you?" Sango asked. Kagome and Shippo had not wanted to be present when Inuyasha was cut open and were sitting together by the river.

He gave a weak nod. "Yeah. Want her to see him."

Miroku nodded and took a jug as he walked into the trees. Soon, Kagome and Shippo emerged looking at Inuyasha in amazement. They approached quietly and knelt down beside him.

"How do you feel?" Kagome asked.


"Ah! Of course, silly question! Are you ok now? I was worried about you." Kagome seemed to be taking stock of his health. It was only a few days ago that he had seemed to fall ill. None of them knew at the time that he was in the last stages of pregnancy. Up to that point, there had been almost no indications other than some occasional mild nausea. His stomach hadn't begun to swell until three days prior. The baby within him had grown considerably due to its demon heritage. Even Inuyasha had been unaware of the life that he had been carrying with him until the signs became too obvious to ignore. By that time they had been too far from any towns that could help them and so Inuyasha had given birth in the middle of the forest.

"I am ok, the baby is fine."

"Have you thought of a name?" Shippo piped as he watched the baby, enchanted.

"No time. Can't think." He yawned.

Sango brushed his hair back. "There is no rush. You can think when you are not so tired. For now, let us take care of you Inuyasha." The demon hunter soothed her friend.


"Sleep, we will not let anything happen to you or your child."

"Take him?" Inuyasha offered the baby to Kagome, who carefully cradled him in her arms.

Miroku returned with the water and washed the blood from Inuyasha as Kagome and Sango cleaned the baby. Miroku picked up the half-demon and moved from the bed of leaves that he had given birth in, to a sleeping bag that had been rolled out. Inuyasha watched Kagome rock his baby as he fell asleep, exhausted from the energy it took him to give birth.
Later, he awoke to the sound of tiny cries. He sat up immediately looking around for his baby. Sango was holding him and singing softly as she rocked him, but the baby did not want to quiet. She looked up as she felt Inuyasha's eyes upon her.

"You're awake. He's hungry." She brought the baby over and handed him to Inuyasha, who cradled his son close to his chest.

" do I feed him?" He looked down at his son, now cleaned and wrapped in a white blanket. His head was crowned with a light dusting of snowy hair and two tiny floppy ears. He had quieted when Inuyasha took him, but he had still seen the flash of small fangs. His eyes were squinted unhappily, but their golden color was obvious.

"We are assuming that since you were able to give birth, you can also produce the milk needed to nourish the child," Miroku said as he sat on the other side of Inuyasha setting down some food and a cup of water.

"I have to...?" He looked up alarmed.

"He's a baby, he can't eat food. He needs his mother's milk." Sango said.

"Mother?!" The half-demon's head whipped towards her.

"Yes, Inuyasha. You are the baby's mother. And as such, you must feed him."

"But I!"

"Just open your shirt Inuyasha. If it does not work, we will come up with alternate means of providing food for the baby," Miroku coaxed.

The baby whimpered and Inuyasha's resistance seemed to melt away. "All right." He opened his shirt and held the baby to his chest where his nipples had swollen considerably. As if sensing food, the baby latched on fiercely and began to suckle. A strange look crossed Inuyasha's face as he looked down at the small white head attached to his chest.

"Well, it seems that I was right." Miroku grinned as he sat back and sipped some tea. "So Inuyasha, have you decided on a name?"

Inuyasha nodded. "I'm going to name him Kuniku."

Sango smiled.

Inuyasha looked around. "Where are Kagome and Shippo?"

"They went off into the woods. They're up to something."

"Ow!" Inuyasha jumped. He stared down at his chest.

Sango leaned forward worriedly. "What's wrong?"

"Kuniku bit me." He winced.

Miroku grinned. "Perhaps you should, ah, switch breasts."

Inuyasha grumbled at the reference but did so, carefully. Again, Kuniku latched on and began to drink his fill. Soon, his sucking slowed until he finally let go and yawned. Inuyasha watched as he fell asleep and smiled tenderly.


Kagome and Shippo walked back into the clearing smiling.

"What have you been doing?" Miroku asked the pair.

"We made a gift for the baby." Kagome sat down near her friends.

"Look!" Shippo held up a small outfit. "We even left a hole for his tail!" He turned it around to show the small hole.

"Thank you," Inuyasha said, taking the tiny outfit with one hand. "It's...just what we need."

"You're welcome," Kagome smiled happily. "Did you name him yet?"

"Yes, his name is Kuniku."

" fits." She looked at the baby and couldn't help but smile more. He was so small and precious. It was amazing. Men weren't supposed to have babies. At least, they didn't where she was from. But then again, there weren't demons running rampant in her time either. She had only been mildly surprised when it happened, having become used to strange things happening. To tell the truth, what amazed her the most was how right it seemed.

Watching Inuyasha cradle his small son just gave her a warm feeling. The feelings that had once left her so confused had settled when she had finally realized that she could not have Inuyasha. It wasn't such a great loss, because she still had his friendship and his trust. If she were to be truthful, she would have to admit how much their relationship had always been like that of siblings, with frequent squabbles that covered up the overall love they held for each other.

Her only main concern was Kuniku's father. Who was he? Inuyasha had never said. She knew that it wasn't Miroku; he would have claimed the child. Besides, the monk was truly infatuated with Sango and perhaps he even loved her. The father couldn't be Kouga. Kuniku had dog demon features like Inuyasha and it seemed that Kouga preferred women or her at least. She prayed very hard that it wasn't Naraku, that he hadn't somehow hurt her friend and forced the burden upon him. Not that Kuniku was a burden, but to bear the child of such an evil demon was surely a great weight.

She was unaware of Inuyasha carrying on a relationship with anyone. He never gave any hint that he had a lover somewhere. He went off to sit in trees by himself, but was generally easy to find, so it wasn't as if he was running off on illicit trysts. So who was the father of Kuniku? He had his father's looks. White hair and dog-ears. He even had a small fluffy tail and slanted golden eyes that were unusually aware of their surroundings. Was she perhaps overlooking something important? She shied away. Surely, it wasn't. Could it be that Kuniku's father was...Sesshomaru?

Chapter Text

"Master! Master!" Jaken came running into the castle gardens where Sesshomaru sat.

"What is it Jaken?" He asked the shriveled demon calmly.

"That evil human child has stolen my staff again Master!" Jaken whined.

"That is not my problem, you shall simply have to find it yourself."

"But Master!"

"Do not whine Jaken. Send Rin to me. I think that we shall take a walk."

Jaken frowned. "Yes, Master."

He sulked as he walked back into the house and soon Rin flew out and grabbed onto Sesshomaru's robes. He gave her a half smile and they walked silently out of the castle gates. He watched as she ran up ahead giggling. After a while, they stopped beside a stream where Sesshomaru settled beneath a large tree. Rin ran through the field chasing a butterfly and collecting small flowers in the lazy afternoon sunshine.

After some time, she ran back to him with an armful of flowers and sat by his side carefully twisting the stems together. She handed one garland to him and placed another around her neck before lying down quietly. He put his hand out and gently pet her hair, watching as her eyes slowly closed. He was staring off at the horizon when a noise caught his attention.

"No way in hell. We're not going that way!"

He instantly recognized his half-brother's voice.

"But Inuyasha, there is a castle in this direction. Surely we can get help there." The monk was speaking.

"Inuyasha. Kuniku needs a safe place to stay. We should see if the castle would take us in." The girl, Kagome spoke.

"Not there! Anywhere but there," Inuyasha growled back.



Sesshomaru blinked as he heard a baby cry.

"Look, you've woken up Kuniku!"

Who was Kuniku? Where did they find a baby? He was intrigued. He picked up Rin and slowly began to walk in their direction. What trouble had his brother gotten himself into this time?

Rin woke up at the slow sway of his walking. She clambered up onto his shoulders and sat as he walked in the direction of the voices. Soon, he could smell them. The same group with a new addition, some strangely familiar but new smell. He could still hear them arguing, softer now that the baby had been quieted, but just as heated.

"I will not go there. I am leaving," Inuyasha hissed.

"You can't go by yourself!"

"Watch me."


Sesshomaru walked around the bend in view of them just in time to see Inuyasha turn to walk off. His brother froze immediately as he sensed his presence. Miroku and Sango turned on him instantly hands on their weapons.

"What do you want here?" Miroku asked warily. Sesshomaru might not be out for Inuyasha's sword, but that certainly didn't make him friendly.

"I was curious. I heard something strange. I came to investigate." Sesshomaru shrugged, receiving a giggle from Rin as she was jostled. He held up an arm to make sure she didn’t fall off. Rin gripped his hand happily.

"There is nothing to see here," Inuyasha growled without turning.

"On the contrary. I can smell it. What are you hiding?"

"None of your damn business. I'm outta here!" He began to stalk off again.

"Inuyasha." Kagome lunged after him. "Please don't go."

Inuyasha tensed as she grabbed onto his shoulder. He jerked away from her. "I’m going. I ain’t staying in his castle," he snapped, his voice full of disdain. He started walking again.

Miroku looked at Sesshomaru. "The castle nearby is yours?"

Sesshomaru inclined his head. “These are my lands. The castle is my home."

"Then perhaps we could ask for a few days' lodging. We would not dare to impose if it were not so important." The monk bowed.

"What is so important that you would beg me to keep you?"

"It's Inuyasha's-" Kagome began, only to be cut off by Inuyasha’s furious snarl.

"Don't tell him!" Inuyasha whirled around, arms wrapped around himself protectively.

His friends blinked. "Why not?"

"I don't want him to know. I don't want to stay with him. I just want to leave here. Are you guys coming with me or not?"

"What is this big secret that you're hiding?" Sesshomaru asked as he fixed his eyes on Inuyasha.

"That's none of your damn business." Inuyasha started to turn away again.

"I just made it my business, dear brother." Sesshomaru advanced.

"Stop!" Inuyasha's eyes grew wild. "Don't come near me!" He wrapped his arms around the sling he wore and for the first time, Sesshomaru was able to get a glance at the mysterious infant. He stopped. White hair. White hair and tiny dog-ears. White hair, tiny dog-ears, and slanted golden eyes.

"Inuyasha?" His voice was hushed and full of questions. Inuyasha turned away and stayed silent. "Inuyasha, tell me, where did the baby come from." His voice was more commanding as he drew closer.

"He's mine."

"Your friends were not with child. Where did he come from?"

"He's mine! Kuniku is my son."

"You said that already." Sesshomaru ground out, losing his patience.

"Sesshomaru." The demon turned, Kagome stood forward and glared at him. "He said that baby was his, and he is. Kuniku is Inuyasha's son. He had him a week ago."

"What do you mean had him?" Sesshomaru's stomach felt strange like there were rocks sitting in the bottom of it.

The girl sighed. "Why are you being so dense? Inuyasha was pregnant. He is the mother of Kuniku."

"The mother?"

"The mother."

"Inuyasha is male."

"He's also half demon. We believe that it is his unique heritage that has allowed him to bear a child. Some male demons have been known to bear children, though I have never heard of another half-demon doing so. We are still unsure of the father and the part that he would have played," Miroku explained.

"Baby." Rin squirmed on Sesshomaru's shoulders and he knelt to let her slide off. Once on the ground, she trotted up to Inuyasha smiling. "Baby." She hopped up and down trying to get a good look at the baby resting in the makeshift sling made of Inuyasha's bright red fire rat coat.

Inuyasha watched her, then slowly knelt down and let the girl approach. She tiptoed up, watching the little face in awe. "His name is Kuniku." Inuyasha was talking to Rin, but his eyes were locked on Sesshomaru.

"Kuniku," Rin cooed as she reached out to touch the fuzzy white head.

Inuyasha looked back down at her. "Gentle," he said as he took her hand and ran it softly over Kuniku's head.

"Gentle." Rin echoed as she stroked Kuniku.

Sesshomaru watched silently. The picture of Rin with Inuyasha and child made him feel strangely warm. Rin laughed and ran back to him. Taking his hand she drew him towards Inuyasha. The baby's small golden eyes were wide and aware and he was surprised as they tracked his progress forward.

"Kuniku. Gentle." Rin murmured as she took Sesshomaru's hand and ran it gently over Kuniku's head. He marveled at the soft velvet feeling of the tiny ears. He raised his eyes to Inuyasha, but his brother's eyes were fixed on his son's face, his mouth set in a tight line.

"Inuyasha," Sesshomaru said softly. The half-demon's ears twitched, but he didn't look up. "Inuyasha, look at me." Sesshomaru used his free hand to lift his brother's chin. "Come to my castle."

Inuyasha jerked his face from Sesshomaru’s grip. “No.”

Sesshomaru frowned. He cupped Inuyasha’s face in his hand, coaxing him to look at him once more. "Come to my castle...please. We should talk."

Inuyasha blinked at the word "please." That word was not in Sesshomaru's usual vocabulary. Would he really be safe in his brother's castle? Maybe he wasn't trying to kill him anymore, but did that really make him trustworthy? After all, Sesshomaru had had his chance. Look where it got Inuyasha trusting him before.

"Please Inuyasha? It would make us all feel better if you were safe in Sesshomaru's castle," Kagome said.

Inuyasha sighed. His friends were worried and truthfully, so was he. His son needed a safe place. They’d been lucky they hadn’t run into trouble the last few days. That luck would not last forever. There weren't many other places as secure as a powerful demon's castle. But was it safe with Sesshomaru? He looked at Rin, who seemed so happy. Sesshomaru had to have softened a little to be keeping a human child. He had to swallow back the bitter taste of jealousy. Why change for her, but not for him? But it wasn’t himself that he was thinking of now, it was his son. Kuniku needed to be safe. He sighed, it appeared that for the safety of his son, the best thing to do was go with Sesshomaru. He pulled his chin from Sesshomaru's grasp, letting his gaze drop to his son. "Fine. I’ll go with you. For now."

Rin, who had been watching their interaction closely, cheered. "Yay! Stay!"

Sesshomaru patted her head. "Yes Rin, we will have guests." He stood and took her small hand in his. "Shall we go?" He looked back at Inuyasha.

The half-demon nodded reluctantly and began to follow as Sesshomaru walked back to the castle. The walk to the castle was uneventful, but their arrival caused quite a stir. Jaken's nasal voice greeted them with a cry of "Welcome home Master," directly followed by, "What are they doing here?!"

"Jaken, we are going to have guests. Get chambers prepared." Sesshomaru instructed.

"But Master!"

"Do not question me! Just do as I say."

Jaken sighed. "Yes, Master." The little demon muttered quietly to himself as he walked off to do Sesshomaru's bidding.

"Hungry!" Rin announced.

"Then we shall see about food little one." Sesshomaru turned and motioned for his guests to follow. The party was silent as they moved through the large halls. They were surprised by the interior. The outside seemed dark and forbidding. The inside was actually very tastefully decorated and well lit. Childish scribbles on the walls courtesy of Rin mixed in among expensive art pieces, giving it a more homey feel.

"Looks like you have good decorating tastes," Kagome finally piped up as the passed into a dining hall. A low set table was laid out with a large selection of food.

"Thank you." Sesshomaru nodded as he led Rin to the table and sat her down. Taking a seat at the head of the table, he indicated for the others to do the same. The meal was mostly quiet. Shippo talked to Rin who occasionally spoke back, but everyone else settled for passing weighty glances around the table. Sesshomaru watched Inuyasha closely as he ate small bites of food. Mostly, the half-demon rocked his son and kept his head down. Afterward, Jaken appeared in the doorway, peering in at the silent diners.

"Master. The rooms have been prepared," Jaken announced.

Sesshomaru nodded. "If you would bring them to their rooms, that will be all Jaken."

"Yes, Master." The little toad-like demon motioned for the group to follow him. They got up and left the room with Rin trailing behind them.

As Inuyasha shifted to stand, Sesshomaru put a hand on his leg. "Not you. I want you to stay close to me."

Inuyasha frowned.”Why?”

"Do not protest Inuyasha. We need to talk."

"What if I don't want to talk with you?"

"It is not an option. We will talk." Sesshomaru stared at him.

Inuyasha glared back. The staring contest would have continued if it weren't for a small cry as Kuniku announced that he was awake. Sesshomaru looked down at the baby as Inuyasha cooed softly and raised him up.

"What's wrong Kuniku?" Inuyasha felt his diaper. "Not that, you must be hungry. Don't worry. I'll feed you." With a soft rustle of cloth, Inuyasha had opened his shirt. Sesshomaru stared at his brother's swollen chest. The soft pale mounds drew his eyebrows up. Normally flat features were visibly rounder and fuller than a typical masculine chest. Inuyasha's nipples looked ripe as they waited at attention. He shifted and Kuniku's little mouth instantly latched onto one of his enlarged nipples. Soft suckling sounds issued from the baby and a smile crossed Inuyasha's face as he caressed his son's silky ears.

Sesshomaru was surprised that Inuyasha had so casually opened his shirt to feed the baby. But he was a male; he did not have the body shyness that females carried about baring their breasts. It was strangely erotic to have those soft swells shown in such a casual manner and the look that crossed Inuyasha's face was not one that he'd seen before. It suited him, that soft tender look. Sesshomaru's fingers itched. Slowly, he reached out and brushed his hand across Inuyasha's cheek. Inuyasha looked up as Sesshomaru tucked some of the soft white hair over his shoulder.

He began pushing the white shirt down the shoulder, letting it slide down his arm. "What are you doing?" Inuyasha looked at him, not angry, but wary.

Sesshomaru's hand slid back up Inuyasha's arm and rubbed at a small round indent on his shoulder. "I am touching my mate." Sesshomaru replied smoothly, eyes lifting from the mark to meet Inuyasha's.

Inuyasha pulled his shoulder back. "What are you talking about? I'm not your mate!" He snapped.

"But you are, that mark says so. The mark from that night." Sesshomaru stared his half-brother down.

Inuyasha shook his head. "T-that was a mistake. It means nothing."

"Kuniku means nothing?"

"No! That's not what I mean and you know it! What...what you did to me... It was the moon. That doesn't make us mates. You are my brother and you don't even like me. You didn’t even stay.” Inuyasha’s voice broke. He scowled. “What happened between us was a mistake. But Kuniku is not. He is my son and I will love him like my mother loved me. I'll always be there for him. He'll never have to...he'll never go through what I did." Inuyasha's voice was firm and fierce as he cradled Kuniku protectively and glared at Sesshomaru.

Sesshomaru had no reply. Inuyasha was right. Their joining had not been one that he’d chosen, it had been influenced by the moon. And while he had claimed Inuyasha, he had left him there once he’d come to his senses. He had no good excuse for that. He had been as confused and conflicted as Inuyasha was, but Inuyasha would not want to hear that.

He just watched as Inuyasha calmed himself by switching Kuniku to his other nipple, leaving the first shining and wet. If it weren't for the baby, he might have pushed Inuyasha to the ground and taken that nipple back into his mouth. Perhaps his moon addled brain hadn’t been so far off the mark after all. Just the slightest look at Inuyasha’s skin made him want to taste it all over again. However, it was obvious that Inuyasha would not welcome any advances he made. So they sat in silence, Sesshomaru watching Inuyasha as the half-demon avoided his gaze, with little Kuniku oblivious to everything but his meal. As the baby drifted off to sleep, Inuyasha began to hum softly.

"I want you to stay in the room next to mine," Sesshomaru said quietly.

"Why? Why should I do what you want?"

“You are a guest in my house. I want you near me." Sesshomaru stood up.

Inuyasha frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Take it how you will." Sesshomaru shrugged. "Come with me."

Inuyasha slowly rose, adjusting his shirt and settling Kuniku into his sling again. With one arm wrapped around his son, he walked up behind Sesshomaru and followed him out of the room. They moved down a narrow hallway lined with silk paintings and emerged in a larger and brighter hallway.

"These are my living quarters." He slid a door open and walked inside.

Inuyasha followed. The door slid shut behind him, causing him to tense.

Sesshomaru continued walking through a richly decorated sitting room. "These quarters are separate from the rest of the castle. Only Rin and myself stay here."

He slid open another door panel and led Inuyasha into a large bedroom. A wide bed, draped in deep crimson velvet, was the centerpiece of the room. A matching trunk sat at the end of the bed, a carved and cushioned chair was placed beside the bed and there was a towering wardrobe in one corner. A painted screen stood beside the wardrobe with a finely painted depiction of a story that his mother had once told him, some mushy love thing, but it reminded him of her.

"This is the guest room. My room is through that door and the bath is through the other. There are also hot springs you might take advantage of. But right now you look tired. Perhaps you should lay down." Sesshomaru gestured towards the bed.

"I'm not tired." Inuyasha protested.

"Perhaps not, but maybe Kuniku would like to lay down for a while."

Inuyasha just glowered as he approached the bed, touching the soft coverlet and pressing on the mattress. Slowly, he sat down. "Not bad. I guess being a big bad demon has its perks."

"That it does." Sesshomaru acknowledged, much to Inuyasha's annoyance.

Inuyasha huffed and carefully moved up the bed. He removed Kuniku from the sling and laid him gently on the mattress. He dragged down a feather pillow and placed it beside him and laid down on the other side of the baby with his back towards Sesshomaru. He petted the soft white hair of his son and sighed. Inuyasha yawned, tired despite his earlier protests. For the first time in a week, he felt safe enough to relax. As much as he didn’t want to trust Sesshomaru, it was all too easy to drop off to sleep in his presence.

Sesshomaru watched as Inuyasha’s body slowly relaxed. He carefully sat down on the edge of the bed. When Inuyasha didn't stir, he moved closer, putting his hand in Inuyasha's hair. He stroked the fine white strands much as Inuyasha had been petting Kuniku and watched the two sleep.

"Do not worry Inuyasha. Our son will not face the same challenges you did. And you won't have to ever again." He spooned behind him, one arm possessively wrapped around him. He had walked away from Inuyasha once, he would not be so foolish as to let Inuyasha slip from his grasp a second time.

Chapter Text

A high-pitched giggle woke Inuyasha. He yawned and stretched, reluctantly opening his eyes.

"Morning!" Rin crowed, staring down at him.

Inuyasha sat up, careful not to knock his head against hers, and looked around. His eyes stopped at the end of the bed. Sesshomaru was standing at the foot of the bed changing Kuniku's diaper. Inuyasha blinked at him. "Am I dreaming?"

Sesshomaru didn't look up as he worked. He lightly dusted some powder over Kuniku's bottom and gave the fluffy tail a tickle. He wrapped the infant in a new diaper, positioning his tail in a little hole in the cloth. He pinned it securely and picked up the baby. "Rin did greet you. One would assume that you did, in fact, wake."

Inuyasha stared at Sesshomaru as though he had suddenly sprouted wings.

Sesshomaru looked back impassively. "Is there a problem?"

"I can't believe you just changed a diaper," Inuyasha said.

"Diaper!" Rin sang, jumping on the bed.

"Somebody needed to with you dead to the world. Rin managed to put one of her famous knots in your hair and you didn't even notice."

"Famous knots?" Inuyasha blinked.

"Knot!" Rin announced as she picked up some of the hair on his shoulder. It was indeed a large knot that somewhat resembled a braid infused with wilted flower stems and tangled silk ribbons.

"What the hell?" He tried to untangle it and winced.

"She likes long hair. She just isn't good at playing with it yet. That's a fair attempt, it should only take about an hour to fix."

"An hour?!"

"It is a knot Inuyasha." Sesshomaru sat down on the bed. He put Kuniku between two pillows. Rin sat down next to the baby and cooed. She put her fingers out and watched his little hands wave at them. Sesshomaru offered the children a rare smile and then turned to Inuyasha. "If you come over here, I can get it out for you."

"I can do it," Inuyasha insisted as he continued to pull at the lump of hair. If anything, it only grew bigger with his attempts at freeing it. He growled and threw his hands up. "This is impossible!"

"Not impossible, it just takes patience Inuyasha. Come here and I'll get it out before you make it a two hour affair."

Inuyasha grumbled as he crawled forward and sat in front of Sesshomaru.

A smirk tinted Sesshomaru's lips, but he didn't comment. He moved forward and took the large knot into his hands and slowly began picking it apart. Inuyasha watched Sesshomaru's nimble fingers, as the knot was untangled seemingly strand by strand. Mangled flower petals and stems were put in a small pile on the bed covers with little bits of ribbons that were removed from the hair. Inuyasha looked at Sesshomaru's face. His expression was one of concentration as he focused on the knot.

Inuyasha took the time to study his brother's features. They were more delicate than his, even somewhat effeminate, but it was a deceptive frailty that his features held. The markings on his face seemed to give some clue of the dangerous person that he was. Just like snakes with bright markings that indicated their toxicity, Sesshomaru sported bright warning signals, for he was indeed poisonous when provoked. The hair was the same as his, a long silky mass the color of clouds on a spring day, white with highlights of blue. Sesshomaru's ears were different though. They looked somewhat human but were sharply pointed at the end in the way that many demons’ ears were. Inuyasha wondered why he, the half-demon, had dog ears while Sesshomaru had almost human ears. How much easier would his life have been if his ears had only been more human? He sighed.

"What are you thinking Inuyasha?" Sesshomaru asked, golden eyes flickering up to his brother's face.

"Why couldn't my ears have been more human, like yours?" Inuyasha's own ears drooped at his thoughts.

"We both have father's ears. Yours simply display your origins in a stronger manner. You should not be ashamed of your heritage." Sesshomaru stroked the sensitive white ears, sending a shiver down Inuyasha's spine. "Without them, you would not be who you are right now. Without that heritage, you would not have Kuniku."

Inuyasha looked back at his son, who was clutching Rin's finger tightly. "He is precious to me. I wouldn't have it any other way. But I can't help thinking about if it were different." Inuyasha shrugged.

Sesshomaru smoothed out Inuyasha's hair. He combed his fingers through the silky strands. "It does not do to live in the past when the future is spread out before you."

Inuyasha turned back to look at Sesshomaru, thinking he was behaving oddly. His heart sped up as he watched Sesshomaru slowly leaning in. Gold eyes widened as soft lips pressed against his. Sesshomaru's hand wove into his hair, cupping his head as he kissed him firmly. Slowly, he moved back and looked down into Inuyasha's eyes. The half-demon licked his lips shakily and stared back. The staring contest might have gone on indefinitely with Inuyasha feeling as though he was drowning in honey if Rin hadn't leaped between the pair.

"Bell! Food!" She said as she latched onto Sesshomaru’s arm.

He looked down at her and nodded. "Yes, the dinner bell. It is time to eat." He picked her up and got up from the bed. "Will you join us?" He offered his hand to Inuyasha. Inuyasha watched the hand as if it might bite him, but slowly took it. Sesshomaru handed Inuyasha his sling and Inuyasha picked up Kuniku and secured him before they left the room together. Inuyasha felt his cheeks heat as Sesshomaru captured his hand again and led him to the dining room.

Inuyasha's friends were already seated at the table as they entered. The whispered conversation trailed off and he could see them trying to look innocent and failing miserably. Inuyasha looked at them suspiciously. "What are you up to?"

"Nothing," they chimed in near perfect unison. It only made him more suspicious.

Inuyasha sat down at the table as Sesshomaru released his hand to let Rin slide down onto her seat. He looked at his friends and sighed, they were definitely up to something.

"Inuyasha. Sango is going to take me home tomorrow. We'll be away for a day or so, but I'll come back as soon as I can," Kagome spoke up.

"I thought you said you were free for a while."

"Well, ah, I just remembered, there is this big exam that I forgot all about. Things were so hectic it just skipped my mind!" the girl waved her arms around frantically, nearly smacking Miroku in the face as she did so.

Inuyasha shrugged. "If you have doesn't seem like I'll be going anywhere." He glanced at his brother, who shook his head slightly, indicating that there was no way that he was going to let Inuyasha slip out of the house.

"Don't worry, we won't be abandoning you. We will be leaving Miroku and Shippo," Sango added.

"Oh boy. I can hardly wait." Inuyasha rolled his eyes at the contented look on the monk's face. He was such a moocher; of course, he'd stay. Shippo was annoying too, as children usually were, but Inuyasha wondered if he couldn't provide some good company for Rin. He was positive the girl didn't get much interaction within the castle walls.

"Hardly wait." Rin giggled as she grabbed a pork bun on the table.

"Indeed, I am eager to try out these hot springs Rin has spoken of," Miroku spoke up.

"She spoke of?" Sesshomaru looked up.

"Yes, perhaps not in the most prolific terms, but she said there was hot water. With bubbles."

Sesshomaru nodded. "Yes, she is quite fond of the bubbles. She refuses to take a bath without them."

"Bubble bath! Fun." Rin smiled as she munched on her pork bun.

"I suppose that I shall show them to you once the girls are seen off." Sesshomaru shrugged. He knew that if he didn't the mischievous monk would probably go searching for them himself and only end up in more trouble.

Inuyasha sat quietly eating and wondering if this was really his brother or some impostor. He had more or less just offered to show Miroku around his home. Inuyasha was getting to the point that he wanted to start poking Sesshomaru just to check that he wasn't dreaming. If it was a dream, it was surely one of the strangest ones he'd ever had. Sesshomaru changing a diaper? Then grooming him and kissing him! It was like some strange alternate dimension, not that he was complaining. He had a good roof over his head, good food to eat and help changing Kuniku's diapers. It was the most security he'd had in a very long time. Even his adventuring with his friends hadn't provided him with the peace of mind that he currently found in Sesshomaru's castle.

After the meal, they watched the girls leave on Kilala's back. Once they were a small fiery dot on the dark horizon, Sesshomaru led his guests back into the house. He pointed out a few rooms of interest as they moved through the hallways. Rin ran up ahead and called for them to hurry.

"She's very enthusiastic about baths," Miroku commented.

"She likes the bubbles," Sesshomaru replied.

They walked out of the house and into a large garden. Sesshomaru led them down the path and they could see steam rising up ahead. Rin was sitting beside a small fountain and sticking her hands in, getting her sleeves wet.

Inuyasha looked at the large spring and whistled. "Man, that's a huge spring."

"If you're going to do something, do it all the way." Sesshomaru smirked.

There was a small hut next to the spring that Sesshomaru entered. He emerged with a jar and an armful of towels. Rin cheered and ran up to him. He smiled and handed her the jar. She took it and skipped back to the fountain.

"Here are towels and a robe monk. I can see that you are dying to test the waters." Sesshomaru handed the stack of towels to Miroku.

Miroku bowed as he took the towels. "You are a most gracious host."

"Flattery will get you nothing here. I merely have taken you in because of Inuyasha."

Miroku nodded. "All the same, we appreciate it. Come on Shippo, let's give this water a try."

Shippo whined. "But I usually bathe with Kagome."

"Kagome is not here, you'll just have to come in with me."

Shippo grumbled. "All right, but you better not look you pervert."

"Shippo! You're a boy and a child too boot." Miroku protested.

Shippo shrugged. "So? It takes all kinds."

"Honestly, you've been hanging around with Kagome too much." Miroku snorted as he set the towels down.

Shippo scrambled off his shoulder and shrugged. "I like Kagome. She's nice to me."

"I'm nice to you too."

"Exactly. There's gotta be a reason for that." Shippo insisted, his tail poofing out.

"What about my honor code?" Miroku began stripping out of his clothes.

"Honor code? You mean the one that makes you grope every pretty girl that you see?"

"I can't help it if I appreciate the form of the female body. You'll learn when you're older." Miroku said as he slipped into the water. "Ah, that feels good."

"You act like I'm a little kid!" Shippo yelled. "I'm not you know, I'm way older than you! Hey! Wait for me. I can't swim that far." Shippo leaped into the water and did a little fox paddle with his half soaked tail bobbing behind him.

"Are they always like that?" Sesshomaru asked Inuyasha.

Inuyasha nodded. "Miroku's right. The runt has been hanging out with Kagome too much."

Rin interrupted by tugging on Sesshomaru's robes. "Bubble bath. Clean time."

Sesshomaru nodded. "Yes, it is time to get clean."

"Bubble seeds?" She held up the jar.

"Yes, you can plant the seeds." He nodded again.

"Bubble seeds? What the heck is that?" Inuyasha asked, watching his brother.

"Watch and see Inuyasha."

Rin put the jar on the ledge of the shallow fountain. She carefully removed the lid and reached her hand inside. She pulled out a sandy substance and threw it into the fountain. A few moments later the fountain began to froth over.

"Oh. I get it. It's some kind of soap powder. She thinks they're seeds."

"Yes. She didn't really like bathing until I introduced her to the bubbles. Now, I have a hard time getting her out."

Rin ran into the little hut and emerged toting a small basket. She set it beside the fountain and began pulling things out and lining them up along the edge. Soon she had a whole fleet of carved wooden boats sitting on the edge. Then she quickly shimmied out of her clothes and jumped into the fountain. Inuyasha stepped back as water splashed towards him. Rin pulled in the boats and soon seemed to have a full-scale sea battle waging in the fountain. He smiled as she played and soon he settled down beside the fountain to watch her.

"Does Kuniku need a bath? These waters are not as hot as the rest of the spring. It would be a perfect opportunity to bath him."

Inuyasha looked up. "I guess so. I haven't bathed him yet. The girls did that when he was born." He sniffed his son. "I guess he is getting a little ripe. Aren't you Kuniku? All that hard baby business, eating, sleeping and dirtying your diaper."

"You can't let him in alone though. You'll have to go with him."

Inuyasha bristled. "I know. I'm not stupid. I'll just take a bath with him."

"In your clothes?" Sesshomaru raised an eyebrow.

"No, not in my clothes. I'll take them off if you can hold Kuniku. You think you can manage that?" Inuyasha demanded, offering his son to his brother.

"I think that I can manage," Sesshomaru drawled as he took the infant.

Inuyasha turned away and shed his clothes. Sporting only his fundoshi, he turned back to find that Sesshomaru had removed Kuniku's outfit as well. He handed the squiggling baby to Inuyasha. Inuyasha held him gently as he put his foot in the fountain to test the water. Satisfied with the temperature, he slowly sat down in the water and secured Kuniku in his lap. Rin pushed a boat over and plopped down beside Inuyasha as he scooped a few handfuls of water over Kuniku.

"Kuniku clean, Kuniku clean." She sang as she cupped some water and dropped it on Kuniku's foot.

"Rin, come here, we'll clean your hair," Sesshomaru called, distracting the girl. She moved over to him as he pulled out a jar of liquid soap and began to help her with her hair. All the while, he watched Inuyasha and Kuniku as the half-demon gently cleaned his child. He noticed the faint scar across his stomach and inquired about it. "Inuyasha, what is that scar?"

"That's where Kuniku came out of. Miroku sewed it up. It’s healing, but the scar is fading slowly." Inuyasha shrugged as he ran a finger over the scar.

"I'm sure that we have something to fade the scar."

"I dunno if it's supposed to fade. I mean, this is where Kuniku came out, that's something...special. Maybe it's supposed to stay." Inuyasha shrugged.

"Perhaps. Rin, time to rinse."

Rin nodded and moved under the spray of the fountain rubbing her hair and keeping her eyes clenched shut. She rubbed until the last of the bubbles washed off then hopped out of the spray. Sesshomaru took her hand and pulled her forward where he used a towel to wipe her face. Her eyes popped open and she grinned.

"Rin clean now."

"Yes, you're clean."

"Yasha clean next." She pointed to Inuyasha, who blinked.

"Hey! Are you saying I smell?" Inuyasha stared at her.

"Yasha stinky!" Rin laughed as she held her nose.

"Why you little!" Inuyasha moved to get up, but Sesshomaru put an arm on his shoulder.

"Now, Inuyasha. Surely, it can't hurt you to clean off."

Inuyasha sat back down and grumbled. He turned his attention to Kuniku who decided that he wanted to feed and was suckling happily on Inuyasha's breast and making a dark bruise. "Wrong spot little fellow." Inuyasha adjusted his son. He blinked as water ran down his back. "What the?"

"Lean back Inuyasha. We're washing your hair."

"Washing hair," Rin chimed.

Inuyasha tilted his hair back and felt Sesshomaru's strong hands move through it, tipping a bowl of water into the mass of white hair. Soon after, two sets of hands, one large, one small, began to massage soap into his hair. He closed his eyes and just enjoyed the rare attention without protest. When fingers began to massage his ears, he had to bite back a groan. It felt so good. The last person who'd really touched him like this had been his mother. Neither Kikyo nor Kagome had ever given him the same attention. People didn’t touch him unless they were trying to hurt him.

"Keep your head back. We're going to rinse now." Inuyasha nodded and tilted his head back. He closed his eyes and tried not to think of how vulnerable he was, naked with his neck exposed and eyes closed. He felt the water rinsing out his hair, and the hands running through it as they got the soap out. He sighed softly. "There. We're done." Sesshomaru said, giving his hair one last run through.

"We done. No more stinky." Rin said as she walked around and patted Inuyasha's arm.

"Thanks." He muttered, slightly embarrassed that the small girl told him he smelled.

"You're still a bit dirty. I will hold Kuniku while you finish up," Sesshomaru offered.

"Um...Thanks." Inuyasha looked down at the drowsing infant. He slowly detached him from his chest, getting a small whine as Kuniku scrunched his tiny face in annoyance. He quieted as he was handed over to Sesshomaru who wrapped him in a clean towel and cradled him carefully. Once Inuyasha was certain that Kuniku was okay, he began to scrub himself. Rin offered a small lump of soap that might have once been shaped like a flower of some sort. He thanked her and continued his bath, quickly as he was now highly aware of Sesshomaru's eyes on him.

Sesshomaru watched Inuyasha bathe, taking in the pale color of his skin lit in the light of the garden lanterns that held back the gloom of dusk. He was well muscled but looked a little underfed. His chest, completely unveiled, was fascinating to look at without the obstruction of clothing or babies. As soon as Inuyasha felt the eyes staring at him, he turned, unknowingly providing Sesshomaru with an equally fascinating view. His muscled back led to narrow hips that then flared out for his perfectly pale round cheeks that were barely obscured by his fundoshi. They brought back heated memories of the night of the full moon, but they were hazy at best thanks to conditions of their encounter.

Inuyasha stood up. "I'm done." He announced, not turning around as he wrung the water from his hair.

"There are robes in the hut. Could you bring Rin's when you come out?"

"Yeah. Sure." Inuyasha stepped out of the fountain and moved toward the hut. He walked out wrapped in a white robe and carrying a smaller one in his hand.

"Time to get out Rin," Sesshomaru told the small girl.

"Awww." She frowned.

"Come. It's getting dark. Time for bed."

She pouted even more, but Sesshomaru seemed immune to her sad brown eyes and childish pout. Inuyasha wondered how his brother stood up against it and if Kuniku would do the same thing when he got older. A splash distracted him, drawing his attention back to the main spring. Miroku was emerging from the water with a sleeping Shippo in his arms. He picked up a robe from the pile of linens next to the pool and managed to pull it on without putting Shippo down. He let it swing open as he wrapped the sleeping fox spirit in a towel. He looked up and smiled as he saw Inuyasha watching him.

"Shippo got sleepy in the warm water. We're going to head back now." He walked forward.

"See," Sesshomaru said to Rin. "Shippo and Kuniku are both sleeping, it's time for you to sleep as well."

"Not sleepy!" Rin protested even as she yawned.

Inuyasha smiled. "Sure you're not short stuff. How 'bout we just go inside and find something fun to do?" Inuyasha held out the robe. Rin's eyes lit up at the mention of fun and she was easily coaxed into the robe. Inuyasha scooped the girl up and they all headed back to the house.

Chapter Text

Sesshomaru sat on the chair beside Inuyasha’s bed and watched his small family sleep. It was a strange thought. It had been a long time since he’d considered himself part of a family. He was kin to his father, but he was always working so hard to surpass him that he couldn’t remember the last time they’d done something as simple as share a meal together. They did that when he was small. He remembered eagerly waiting for his father to come home from a battle to share a meal and tell him all about his prowess on the battlefield. Sesshomaru had hung on his words, awed and determined to become great like his father. But at some point, he’d grown cold to his father’s words. He worked hard at training to beat him, but he stopped listening to him. His father’s voice was lost to him. Emotions, family, those were things for the weak and he did not want to be weak. He’d shed the things he thought made him so. And in the process, it seemed that he’d shed the parts that would help make him strong.

He remembered his father’s last words to him, asking him if he had anything to protect. He’d thought it the height of foolishness. His father went off to protect his human mate and half-demon son and it got him killed. Looking back, he realized that it was the strength of his father’s feelings that carried him across the land, despite a fatal wound. His father might have lived, had he stayed to recover, but he’d chosen his lover and child instead. He’d chosen to die so they could live and Sesshomaru had been infuriated. He was right there. His father could have given him his swords, passed on his legacy, but he’d chosen Inuyasha instead. He hated it. Hated the way it made him feel, despite the way he controlled his emotions. He’d seethed with hatred and jealousy. He’d despised the half-breed that his father had chosen over him and the woman who had birthed him. His previous cold indifference to humans had become open disgust and hostility.

Humans and Inuyasha. He had hated them both. Yet now, both were sleeping peacefully in his bed as he watched over them. The things that he had hated the most, were suddenly precious to him and it left him feeling off kilter. He was used to feeling like the calm center of a storm, but now he was thrust into the maelstrom as he tried to make sense of what his life had become. At one time, he would have been more than happy to leave Inuyasha and Rin lying in pools of their own blood. Now, the image made him ill. Rather than killing them, he felt the need to protect.

Of course, some part of him still protested, still wanted blood but he liked to think that he was a demon ruled by his head, rather than his temper. That was Inuyasha’s realm, to jump headlong into things without thought. He could analyze a situation, weighing its pros and cons. Even the angry part of him could see the value of keeping its mate and young safe. Just like that, Inuyasha and Rin were able to pass the wall of ice he’d built around himself as they settled into the roles of mate and child almost without him noticing.

It started with Rin. She had tried to take care of him, despite her own situation. He had been angry that she looked on him with, what he thought was, pity. Now, he could acknowledge that it was not pity, but compassion. The fact that one as unfortunate as Rin could share what little she had, could open her heart to someone as cold as him, was confusing. There was no benefit to her. But still, she came, bringing him food. He ignored it, but it didn’t stop her. Nothing stopped her. Nothing but death.

Something deep inside had driven him to save the child that had tried to help him regardless of the pain it caused her. At the time, he had labeled it as mere curiosity, but looking back he knew it was the spark of his feelings coming back to life. He had seen her broken body and felt the need to acknowledge her compassion. Though their bodies were frail, humans had a great capacity for love and compassion. They also were greedy and selfish, but the world clearly needed more humans like Rin. There was not enough of the emotions she had to offer. Even he, a demon, could recognize that Rin was special.

Rather than walk away from her body on the path, he’d done the only thing he could. He saved her. He cut down the servants of death. He held her in his arms as she woke and smiled at him. He let her tag along out of obligation. He saved her, so he felt mildly responsible for her. He made sure that she didn’t die again, but that was all. He didn’t pay much attention to her or what her diet was. She never voiced complaints, so he let it slide. He was appalled the day he walked upon her trying to eat the desiccated body of a lizard. The tail was hanging out of her mouth as she looked up at him pitifully. He had forced her mouth open, removed the half-chewed creature and tossed it away distastefully. Rin had cried and tried to look for her meal, but he picked her up and carried her to the nearest town where he bought her a proper meal.

After that, he stopped treating her as a burden and began to act like a parent to his human foundling. They had gone shopping in a large trading town, picking out new clothes to replace her dirty rags. She was fitted with new yukata with matching ribbons for her hair. He bought her sandals but had a hard time convincing her to wear them. They’d almost cleaned out a toy maker, purchasing wooden toys and delicately made dolls that were put into a carved trunk. He spared no expense. If he was to take responsibility, it would be all or nothing, so he acquired everything a small child could possibly want or need.

The goods were hauled back to the castle in a large cart. Rin had sat beside him playing with her new dolls for the whole trip. Though her favorite treasure by far was a lacquer box from the toymaker that contained a collection of paints, colored wax sticks, rainbow inks, brushes, quills, and large squares of paper for her to use them on. Rin had taken great delight in designing fantastically colorful pieces of art on her paper squares. She proudly displayed them on the walls of her room and when she ran out of paper, she began to decorate the castle walls.

Jaken had found her at it and scolded her. Sesshomaru had stepped in just as the small toad demon had tried to hit her with his staff. He told her that she could decorate as much as she wanted. Jaken had huffed and stormed off in a rage. Sesshomaru had hidden a smile behind the smaller demon’s back. He took great delight in annoying his servant and Rin presented endless opportunities. He had patted her head, complimented her bright rainbow on his once plain walls, and left feeling strangely content.

Rin started the mellowing process, but Inuyasha managed to reap the benefits. Still, it wasn’t Inuyasha who convinced him to accept his half-brother. It was Naraku who made him take stock of their relationship. Demons, by nature, were mischievous creatures but not necessarily evil. There were plenty of bloodthirsty monsters, but in essence, a demon was a powerful spirit that could lean towards good or evil. Because power corrupts, most demons chose to use their power against the weaker humans. Sesshomaru had done many things that other people would consider evil, but on a whole, his nature was quite neutral and he was able to walk whatever path he chose. Naraku was a creature like none he’d ever experienced. Naraku had all the worst traits of humans, mixed with the worst traits of demons. He was a special blend of toxic malice that sent warning signals screaming through Sesshomaru’s senses.

His first run-in with Naraku had been unpleasant. Naraku had used him, an experience that had been new to Sesshomaru. Nobody manipulated a demon as powerful as himself, but Naraku had. That first encounter had left him with a bad taste in his mouth. Naraku was dangerous, his pores oozed evil like no other. The air around him thickened with malice almost as potent as the miasma he was so fond of. The fact that the demon showed unnatural interest in his half-brother had left him unsettled. At first, he felt that nobody had the right to kill Inuyasha but himself. Inuyasha was the disgrace of their family, a half-breed cur that shouldn't have been allowed to live.

Yet, he had let him live. He hadn’t gone after Inuyasha when he was small and weak and easy to kill. His father had died defending that mutt and his mother. It clawed at him, but he could never bring himself to kill the things his father had died protecting. His father had gone soft and stupid, thinking he had feelings for a human woman. Had he ever felt the same for Sesshomaru’s own mother? Sesshomaru hardly knew her. She had left him in his father’s care soon after his birth and his father rarely spoke of her. It stung to think that his noble mother had left him, but the human woman stayed with her half-breed child, enduring the cruel treatment of her fellow humans. Father and his lover might treasure Inuyasha, but Sesshomaru always saw him as a stain on father’s bloodline. A tainted thing with weak human blood in his veins.

Despite his hatred for his brother, he let him live, because letting him live made him suffer. He suffered the hatred of other humans and once his mother died, he was driven out to suffer the rest of the world. He lived a life cowering from humans and low-level demons alike. It was a wonder he even survived, but he did. He kept tenaciously clinging to life. Even when Sesshomaru finally got serious about wiping Inuyasha out, he’d been the one defeated. The painful loss of his limb was insult on top of injury. Re-growing his arm was a long, painful process that he had no wish to experience again. It made his desire to kill Inuyasha and steal their father’s powerful gift even stronger, at least until Naraku's antics stirred up his ire.

He’d found Naraku’s hounding of Inuyasha to be both amusing and annoying. Inuyasha was his to toy with. The other demon had no right to play with his brother in such a way. The depths to which Naraku stooped were distasteful. It left him feeling inexplicably irritated, more so after his own run-in with the demon, but he never moved to stop it. He’d let the other demon harass his brother, pulling at his emotions and forcing him to fight for his life while Sesshomaru watched from a distance.

Once Rin had managed to crack open his heart, it became harder for him to sit back and watch. He started to interfere. Not with Naraku directly, but with Inuyasha. Inuyasha was of his blood. With their father dead, he was the head of the family and he decided that it was time he took responsibility for that family, even if it was just a lowly half-demon like Inuyasha. Protecting Inuyasha was still beyond him, but training him, that was something he could do. Unlike himself, Inuyasha had never gotten formal training. He depended on his greater strength to fight. Unfortunately, there were creatures out there with strength that both rivaled and surpassed Inuyasha’s. Brute strength would only get him so far, so he began to train him through trial and error. He would lure his brother away from his friends at night and fight him.

Sesshomaru would exploit Inuyasha’s weak points and little by little, the half-demon began to cover them better, to counter his moves. He would battle him until Inuyasha collapsed from exhaustion. Then he’d leave him lying in the dirt to think about his lessons until their next battle. He even started to enjoy their little sessions and he got the feeling that Inuyasha did too, though neither would admit it. Inuyasha seemed almost eager to show him his improvements and every now and then, Sesshomaru would feel his mouth pulling up into a hint of a smile. He lost count of how many times he lured Inuyasha away from his friends to train. He would use subtle signs such as a whiff of scent and a small flex of power to lead his brother away from the main group. Then they’d fight. It was a comfortable routine until it changed. He had no idea that the night of the full moon would be different. He’d drawn Inuyasha away, they’d battled, and then something shifted.

The sight, the scent, the presence of his brother had drawn him like gravity. That night they mated under the moon. Panting, sweating, and biting, they had moved together like wild beasts without logic or care, only the need to mate burning through their blood. The night had been a strange erotic blur, but it was the morning that stuck in his mind the most. He had awoken curled around the smaller form of his half-brother. Still drawn, they mated once more, but it had been slower unlike the wild frantic fornication of the night before. Their bodies had moved together in the rhythm of lovers, golden eyes locked on each other as they reached a shattering release together. It was then that he bit Inuyasha, marking his shoulder. It was that mark that Inuyasha now bore, showing the world that he belonged to Sesshomaru and no other.

It made sense in the moment, but afterward, he was horrified with his actions. He retreated to his castle, wondering how he could have mated with his brother. Training him was one thing. Mating him was something he had never even imagined. He had hated Inuyasha for his entire existence. The only bits of affection he’d ever shown him were not killing him straight away, and training him. It wasn’t exactly a foundation for a happy mating. He felt like it was weakness that made him mate with Inuyasha.

Whatever influence the moon played in their mating, he should have been able to resist. No matter how beautiful his brother was, he should have been able to push back his desires. He prided his control. With Inuyasha involved, he lost it, not only claiming that lovely body like an animal, but he’d mated him too. He had no excuse for that. By morning, the fog of desire had lifted, he was more in control of his actions than at any other time during the night. Still, it felt as though he was in a trance, one of his own making, one that drove him to tell the entire world that Inuyasha was his. So he claimed him. Then, he left like a coward to hide away in his castle and stew in his confusion. He ignored his mate and tried to distract himself by focusing on Rin and spending time meditating in the gardens.

It had worked for a while, at least until fate brought Inuyasha right to his door. He had been shocked to discover their tiny son. He had expected many things to come from their night together, but a child had not been one of them. It was a rare half demon that could carry a child. Inuyasha didn’t seem to realize what an amazing feat he’d managed. The fact that Kuniku had managed to survive Inuyasha’s period of weakness was a miracle in itself. The two of them were amazing. Seeing Kuniku’s small furry ears and his golden eyes, it was as though the confusion inside him instantly cleared. The path forward was perfectly apparent. He had mated Inuyasha and they had a child. He had neglected them terribly and he needed to step up and be the mate that Inuyasha needed. Sesshomaru knew that he had a lot to make up for and he hoped that Inuyasha would give him that chance. He wouldn’t be surprised if Inuyasha decided to take their son and live by himself, as he always had. Or Inuyasha could choose to live in the castle, letting Sesshomaru protect them, but never letting him touch them again.

Why were all of his worst decisions tied so closely to his family? As much as he blamed Inuyasha and his mother for their father’s death, he had to admit that he was partially responsible. If he had offered to protect Inuyasha, his father might have stayed to heal and survive. If he had stayed with Inuyasha after he claimed him, he could have been there when their son was delivered. Instead, he was left trying to clean up his own mess. The years of neglect and outright hostility he’d heaped upon Inuyasha would not help his case when he tried to act like Inuyasha’s mate. He found himself falling into the role of mate with surprising ease, even though Inuyasha was still uncomfortable. He always looked at Sesshomaru’s offered hand like it was going to hit him. He still took it, but he was painfully hesitant. Each little wary glance and flinch was like an arrow to the heart. They were arrows that he deserved. Arrows of his own making. He was the one that made Inuyasha distrust him so. So even as he accepted the situation and vowed to do better, he knew that his previous behavior was not without consequence. He needed to win back Inuyasha’s trust. He needed to show him that he wanted him there, that he was safe in Sesshomaru’s home, in his presence. That would be one of his biggest challenges. However, he was up to the challenge.

He knew that he needed to take responsibility for his mate and child. More than that, he wanted to take responsibility. He wanted to touch Inuyasha and have the half-demon lean into his touch without reservation. He wanted Inuyasha to look at him and not see the brother that had hurt him all these years, but the mate who would protect him to his death. He wanted to be a source of love and support that held Inuyasha up, rather than beat him down. He wanted to be the mate that Inuyasha deserved. A protector, a lover. A partner that he could rely on to raise their child to be happy, healthy and strong. He would become that mate or die trying.

Sesshomaru sighed as he looked back at his family on the bed. He had collected a family that consisted of the two things he once hated most. He still didn't care for humans and he still had problems with his brother, but he was learning to deal with them both. Inflexibility was not an option. He would have to move with the strange flow of life or else not live at all. He chose to go with it. With an amused smile on his face, he fixed the blanket that covered Rin, tucking her small foot under the soft material. He ran his hand gently over the blanket that Inuyasha had wrapped Kuniku in, feeling the soft rise and fall of his son's breath. Finally, he ran his fingers over Inuyasha's fall of white hair as he slid easily onto the bed and curled his body around his mate. It wasn't where he would have ever imagined himself to be, but now that he found himself there he felt content. With that strangely warm feeling sitting in his chest, he allowed himself to join his family in sleep.

Chapter Text

Inuyasha was comfortable and warm. After his mother died, there weren’t many times that he could say that. The feelings of warmth and safety were fleeting things. They never stayed for long, just like everything else good in his life.

His childhood wasn’t terrible. His mother loved him and showed it to him in her every action, her every smile. But everyone else around them hated him. He could always retreat into his mother’s embrace, but it still hurt. Once she died, there was no retreat at all. He was driven out by the humans he’d grown up with and left to fend for himself in the wild, hiding from demons that would gladly murder a half-demon like himself.

Life was a struggle and it was one he considered giving up many times, but he always reminded himself that his father died so he could live. His father gifted him with life and his mother loved him with every fiber of her being. How could he give up the precious life they’d given him. He couldn’t. There was no way in hell he could meet his old man in the underworld and tell him he hadn’t given his all to live. So he fought, tooth and claw, to survive in a world that hated him.

Everything he had, he won through his own strength. Every day he lived, it was because he fought for it. As a child, he had to hide from humans and demons, but as he grew, his strength grew as well. Slowly, he was able to fight back. After each beating that he took, he’d still pick himself back up and fight for another day. He could never stay down. Staying down meant dying, so he always picked himself back up. Through sheer stubbornness alone, he survived. Nobody helped him. Nobody protected him. There was no safe retreat. He lived in a world where you killed or were killed. So he killed and fought, alone. Always alone.

Then he met Kikyo, the holder of the Shikon Jewel. He heard that it could make him a full demon. The idea of becoming stronger, like his father, appealed to him. The idea of never having to run or be beaten again called to him. His search for the jewel led him to Kikyo and for a time, his life had a little less fighting. He and Kikyo had a thing. He was pretty sure he was in love with her. He’d never been in love before, but he was pretty sure the softness he felt when he was around her was what love was. He wanted to see her smile and be happy. He wanted to protect her. And in the end, he failed. He lost her to that bastard Naraku. It only served to prove that everything good in his life was fleeting.

He spent fifty years pinned to a tree before Kagome came along and freed him. Kagome looked so much like Kikyo. For a while, he thought he loved her too. She gave him soft feelings, but as other people were added to their group, he realized that soft feelings could be different. He finally understood friendship. He wasn’t alone anymore. It was shocking. He’d never had friends before. He had trouble dealing with them, but it was worth it, despite Kagome’s control over him. Every “sit” came cushioned in more of those soft feelings.

Soft feelings were confusing, but once he’d had a taste of them, it was as though he could never get enough of them. It made him feel like his center of gravity was constantly changing and he needed those feelings to keep his balance. It made him feel scared and weak, like he was a helpless child that needed to hide from those out to kill him. So he lashed out grumpily because he had already been hurt. Letting his guard down, letting people get in, that just hurt, like an arrow pinning him to a tree for fifty years. Just the thought of that time made him shiver. He couldn’t remember it as anything more than an aching hole. There was the feeling of betrayal from Kikyo, then he awoke to find her long gone. The goodness that he thought he’d found was yanked away, just like that. Nothing good in his life stayed for long. Warmth, comfort, love, they were fleeting. He shivered as a broken animal noise escaped his mouth and he curled in on himself.

He was on the verge of waking when a warm touch soothed him. A gentle hand slid over his arm and down to his stomach. He uncurled slightly, welcoming the touch. The cold that had washed over him receded and the warmth returned to his limbs. He relaxed and soaked in the feeling. The touch seemed to spark a coil of desire in his stomach. As the thought came to mind, another hand slid down and stroked his hip before gliding over his thigh. It felt good.

It had been so long since anybody had touched him with such tenderness. He could count the people on one hand: his mother, Kikyo, Kagome, and Sesshomaru. The last one was a surprise. For as long as he could remember his older brother had lived to make his life miserable and even end it if he could. Rejection always hurt, but to know that his only living relative hated him and wanted him dead was like poison burning through his veins. He loved his mother, but he would always wonder what his life would have been like if he were a full demon. Would Sesshomaru have accepted him then?

Inuyasha never hated his brother. He wanted Sesshomaru to acknowledge him, to accept him. But he never had. Inuyasha was full of bitter resentment. He hadn’t done anything to deserve Sesshomaru’s hatred. He had merely been born. Why was that so wrong? His parents loved each other. They loved each other so much that his father died so he and his mother would live. How could anyone consider that wrong? Why did everyone look at him like he was dirty? He clenched his fists, the pain of his nails digging into his skin had him surfacing from the comfortable place he’d been drowsing. As if sensing his sorrow, the warm hands ran over his sides, once again stroking his stomach and soothing him. He calmed down with a soft mournful sigh.

Things were changing. He’d found friends. It was annoying at times, but it felt good to have them. Things with Sesshomaru were changing too, though he hadn’t noticed it at first. He thought that Sesshomaru had suddenly decided to make his life hell by harassing him almost every night. Eventually, he saw what Sesshomaru was up to. He was training him. Every little battle they had was a grueling training session all designed to improve his fighting skills. Sesshomaru would go for his weak points and Inuyasha would try to cover them. Sesshomaru never said what he was doing, Inuyasha just caught on. They didn't speak about it, it just happened. Inuyasha was almost afraid that if he mentioned it, Sesshomaru would realize what he was doing and stop. If he let on that he enjoyed it, Sesshomaru would leave.

Then his world shifted. The night of the full moon was like every other spar he’d had with Sesshomaru up until it wasn’t just a spar. They went from sparring to something else so fast Inuyasha’s head spun. He wasn’t sure what was different about that night. Maybe it was the moon. Maybe it was destiny. Whatever it was that triggered it, they had mated long into the night. Sesshomaru had set him on fire with want. He’d felt like he needed his brother more than he needed air. The pleasure had flushed out his logic. He couldn't spare a thought to the fact that they were brothers and what they were doing could be labeled as wrong. He could focus on only one thought as they moved against each other in passion, his brother loved him. Maybe he didn't really love him, but that night, their bodies loved each other. And in the morning, that was best. Sesshomaru had moved with a tenderness that brought tears to his eyes. His brother had licked the tears away as he held him, marked him, made him his. Then he was gone.

After their night together, he didn't see Sesshomaru again. He'd just left and, after what they'd shared, Inuyasha had felt abandoned. He was used and forgotten and it hurt. He was used to being ignored and shoved aside, but to have been so close to what he wanted only to be denied. It stung. It stung like few things in life, such a harsh rejection depressed him. It was as if Sesshomaru had said to his face, "You aren't worth the time. I have what I want. You're just trash again like you always were."

He shifted uncomfortably. He had spent so many months agonizing over it. He hadn't been lost in that much confusion since he was a child and his mother died. He berated himself for his weakness, but he couldn't help it. There was an ache inside him where Sesshomaru had reached inside and torn his heart out. It was as if his brother's poison had seeped into his body to attack him, leaving a constant reminder. He whimpered at the remembered pain. Then those warm hands were back on him, lips pressed against his neck. Words were whispered into his ears. Warmth surrounded him where once there was cold.

He had warmth now. He had Kuniku now. When he first saw the beginnings of plumpness on his normally flat stomach, he thought that maybe he'd been eating too many of Kagome's snacks. When it only continued to grow he'd panicked. He didn't know what was happening to his body. Was it a curse? It hadn't hurt it was just strange. His clothes hid the bulge in his stomach for the first day or two, but soon it became too pronounced to hide and his friends discovered it.

Kagome had looked at him in wonder as she said that it looked like he was pregnant. The thought thundered through his head. He was pregnant? He was going to have a child! Sesshomaru's child! Suddenly, he didn't feel so empty. Sesshomaru might have left him, but he'd left something precious behind. He left him Kuniku.

It wasn't long after their initial discovery of Inuyasha's condition that Kuniku was born. His son was perfect. He was so beautiful and he had the cutest little tail. Inuyasha didn't have a tail and neither did his brother, but Kuniku was three-quarters demon and that might have had something to do with it. He didn't care though because his son was so cute no matter what. Kuniku was precious to him. Kuniku's ears were like his own, snow-white dog ears on the top of his head. They were still floppy because he was so young and they were so soft, like small silk petals. On himself, he had resented his ears and his differences, on his son he loved them, they were a reminder of who his father was. Kuniku's differences made him special and he could see now why his mother loved him so much despite what everybody said.

He had been so preoccupied with his son that he hadn't noticed that they'd strayed into Sesshomaru's territory. It wasn't until Shippo reported that there was a castle nearby that he realized exactly where they were and whose castle it was. He flat out refused to go anywhere near the castle. Sesshomaru had left him. He'd thrown him away. He didn't even deserve to know he had a son. No matter how much it hurt him to not have his brother in his life. He didn't want him suddenly popping back in and taking away his son. He would never let it happen. There would be lots of blood and he'd be in his grave before anyone laid a finger on Kuniku.

But it seemed that Sesshomaru did not want to take Kuniku away. In fact, it seemed like he wanted to keep both Inuyasha and their son. He'd even gone so far as to allow Inuyasha's friends to stay in the castle. It was a shock. Did it mean that maybe Sesshomaru didn't hate him after all? He had kissed him. He was being very gentle with him, spending time with him. It was as if Inuyasha had stepped into another world. He wasn't sure what to think. It was what he wanted, but good things never happened to him, something always went wrong. There had to be a catch. He just knew it. It wouldn't last forever. It couldn't, so he would just have to live in the moment and soak it all up. That way he could store it away for later when he was alone again. He always ended up alone. He would do so again, it was his fate.

Crying tickled at the edges of his consciousness. The warmth around him moved. The crying got faint. The sound of voices lulled him and the crying faded out. He knew he should get up, but he was still so warm. He knew that Kuniku would be hungry soon and he couldn't let his son go hungry. He knew what hunger felt like and he would never let his son go through what he did as a child. With a huge yawn, he stretched out on the bed. He shifted and sat up rubbing his eyes. Finally, he looked around and got a feeling of déjà vu. Sesshomaru was sitting in the chair next to the bed rocking Kuniku. Rin was sitting on his lap looking at the baby adoringly. Sesshomaru looked up at him.

"Good morning."

"Good morning," Inuyasha replied, fighting off another yawn.

"Did you sleep well?" Sesshomaru asked.

Inuyasha nodded. "Yeah. It was warm." The comment brought a smile to Sesshomaru's lips.

"If you put clothes on, we can go to breakfast," he said.

"But..." Inuyasha looked down. He was still wrapped in the white robe from the night before, though it had fallen open and was now providing Sesshomaru with a good view of his naked skin. Inuyasha blushed. He noticed faint trails of claw marks over his stomach. His brow crinkled as he looked up at Sesshomaru. "Did you-"

"We will wait for you in the dining room," Sesshomaru announced as he set Rin on her feet and cradled Kuniku. "Don't take too long."

Inuyasha watched, speechless, as Sesshomaru walked out of the room. He looked back down at the trails on his skin. It hadn't been a dream, there had been hands soothing him and they were Sesshomaru's! He blushed at the thought. Had they been like that all night? Was that why he'd been so warm? No wonder Sesshomaru was smiling. That sneaky jerk.

Inuyasha looked around for some clothes to put on. He didn't see his typical white shirt and fire rat pants anywhere. He moved to the wardrobe to look inside. Opening the wooden doors a light flowery scent wafted out. The closet was filled with clothes. Each and every outfit was a finely crafted yukata with different designs on them. Lots of them were in soft floral designs and he glared at the garments. It had to be Sesshomaru's idea of a joke. He was aware that he wasn't at the height of fashion in red fire rat clothing, but it was durable and practical, so he wore it. It appeared that his brother had other ideas. With a sigh, he settled on a light blue yukata with a pattern like fish scales.

He slid into the soft material and shivered at how soft it felt on his skin. He was positive that he'd never worn anything so fine in his life. It probably cost more money than he'd ever possessed and he felt out of place in the garment. He tied the belt around his waist and looked into the mirrored glass on the door of the wardrobe. It was almost like looking at a stranger. His hair and face were the same as always, but the outfit made him look different. He closed the wardrobe door and moved to leave the room. The fabric whispered softly as it slid over his skin and he licked his lips. Suddenly, he felt very out of place in his brother's fine home, dressed up in clothes too expensive for him as if trying to hide his flaws in beautifully dyed cotton. It looked like there wasn't room in his brother's life for some ragged half-demon brother.

Inuyasha's earlier thoughts came back to him; it was too good to be true. Soon, Sesshomaru would come to his senses and wonder why he had invited the awkward half-demon into his home. He would be ready when that time came. He wouldn't put up a fuss when Sesshomaru told him to leave. He would go quietly as long as Kuniku was with him. With a last glance at the rich room, he made his way into the main part of the castle to the dining room where the others were already eating breakfast.

"Good morning Inuyasha," Miroku greeted taking in the new outfit with a raised brow.

"Good morning," Inuyasha replied uncomfortably. He had to fight against the urge to hunch his shoulders as he sat down beside Sesshomaru at the head of the table. Sesshomaru handed over the squirming infant in his arms and Inuyasha smiled at his son. "Good morning Kuniku. Are you hungry? Let's get you fed." He opened the yukata and began to feed Kuniku.

Beside him, Sesshomaru took a small bite of a frosted pastry. Inuyasha looked down at the table as he felt his brother's eyes on him. He looked over the breakfast selections and felt his stomach grumble. There were many beautiful pastries laid out on a plate, a sharp contrast to his usual breakfast of leftovers from the night before. He hadn't eaten pastry since he was a small child and his mother had gifted him with them. He generally shied away from large towns, some of the only places that pastry makers set up shop and even when he happened to come across one, he never had much money to his name.

As Kuniku finished feeding, Sesshomaru offered to take him back while Inuyasha ate. Inuyasha nodded and gently handed his son back to his brother. He began to select a few of the delicately decorated pastries and poured a cup of aromatic tea. He took his time eating, savoring the flaky sweet treats. He was licking the sticky crumbs from his fingers when a motion from Sesshomaru caught his eye. Sesshomaru gestured to his lips and Inuyasha looked at him puzzled. "What?"

"You have a crumb," Sesshomaru leaned forward, "on your cheek." Sesshomaru reached over and wiped the crumb off of Inuyasha's cheek with a single finger. He pulled back and put the finger into his mouth, eating the small crumb. He smiled wickedly as Inuyasha blushed and quickly took a sip of his tea to try and hide his embarrassment. The fire was just fading from his cheeks as they heard noises outside.

Sesshomaru frowned and stood up. He handed Kuniku to Inuyasha and swiftly left the room to check on the disturbance. Rin was hot on his heels followed by both Miroku and Shippo, who hitched a ride on the monk's shoulder. Inuyasha snatched another pastry as he followed the others, curious about the noises as well. He was surprised to find Kagome and Sango in the yard with Kilala hooked up to a large cart.

"What is all this?" Inuyasha asked as he walked out into the yard.

Kagome grinned at him. "I went shopping!" She announced as she gestured to the cart.

"We can see that, did you buy a whole store ladies? What could you have possibly brought that I don't already have?" Sesshomaru asked dryly.

"Baby supplies!"

"Baby supplies?"

"Yes! We brought Kuniku baby supplies, from Kagome's time that is." Sango explained as she led Inuyasha to the cart.

"You went back to Kagome's time?" He blinked.

"No. I cannot go through the well. Kagome's mother took her shopping and Kagome brought all these things through the well," Sango explained. “It took her many many trips to bring it all through.”

"What did you buy then?" Inuyasha peered into the cart packed with boxes.

"All sorts of things! Let us show you! Sit down and we'll show you!" Kagome pushed Inuyasha over to sit on the porch. With no other choice, he sat down on the step and was eventually joined by the other three males.

Rin was hopping between the girls excitedly. Sango grinned and knelt down beside her. "We have something for you too."

"Me too!" Rin squealed.

"Yes!" Kagome brought over a brightly colored box. She opened it and pulled out a silver tiara that sparkled with jewels.

“Oooooh!” Rin cooed as the tiara sparkled in the sunlight.

Kagome smiled. “Since Rin is Sesshomaru's princess, I thought you might need a crown.” She grinned as she settled the toy tiara on Rin's head.

Rin squeaked with joy. “Rin is a princess!”

“That's right, Rin is a princess.”

Rin laughed in delight. "Thank you!" She said, clapping her hands in delight. "Thank you. Thank you!" She sang out happily.

"You're welcome." Kagome stroked the girl's hair. "There is more, but now we'll show Inuyasha his new toys."

"Yasha toys!" Rin crowed as she hopped over to Inuyasha and Sesshomaru and showed off her new treasure.

The girls proceeded to show Inuyasha Kagome's many purchases. There were so many things that he'd never thought about before as they showed him the strange devices from the future. A playpen to keep Kuniku in one place so he couldn't crawl off into trouble. A baby swing to rock him back and forth when nobody was available to hold him. A special tub and sponge to bath him along with more bath products than he'd ever need. There were soft plush animals and pastel-colored blankets in shades of blue and green. Cloth diapers with decorative pins to hold them on. Something called baby wipes clean up messy bottoms while changing diapers and powder to sprinkle on Kuniku to keep him dry. On and on the list went. From baby clothes to toys, diaper bags and bottles, baby books and strollers, it seemed that the girls had bought every baby item ever invented.

Even after their parade of baby items they continued to pull out new treasures. There were more toys for Rin, toys for Shippo, books on religion for Miroku (not that he'd follow them). For Inuyasha, there was instant ramen and books of manga because Kagome said he needed to read more. They brought items for Sesshomaru, small things to decorate his home, strange treats from the future like pocky and other sweets. They even bought a gift for Jaken. They bought him a pack of toffees, probably to keep his whiny beak shut, but he was delighted that they'd thought of him.

In the end, Inuyasha was more than a little shocked. "Why did you do this? Where did you get all the money for this?" Not that he wasn't pleased, but it seemed too much.

"I did this for you Inuyasha." Kagome smiled.

"It seems that money from this time is worth much more in Kagome's time. She had plenty to spare," Sango explained.

"Thank you," Inuyasha said softly, looking around at all the new things and feeling quite overwhelmed. He'd never owned so much in his entire life!

Sesshomaru put his hand on Inuyasha's shoulder. "Come, we shall put these things in your room."

"My room?" The half-demon looked up at his brother.

"Yes, you don't want to leave them in the yard and there is no nursery available right now, so they will have to go in your room."

"Oh." Inuyasha looked even more dazed than before.

Sesshomaru squeezed Inuyasha's shoulder. It sent a jolt of warmth through Inuyasha's body as he watched Sesshomaru pick up a pile of boxes and begin bringing them into the house. Maybe he would be staying for a while after all. With hope glowing in him and a smile on his face, he let Kagome and Sango hold Kuniku while he helped to carry his new acquisitions inside.

Chapter Text

Inuyasha sat in the garden behind the castle. He had a manga in his lap and some of the baby books on the bench next to him. Sesshomaru was sitting with Kuniku and Rin while they napped. Sesshomaru had been paging through one of the books Kagome had brought when he left. It seemed that his brother liked to read. He made a note to ask Kagome to bring more books next time she went back to her time, he'd have to think about the subjects, but he decided that it would make a nice gift for his brother, who had taken him in along with all of his friends. He flicked his ears and looked up as someone walked along the path. Kagome came around a corner with a flower in her hand. She waved and walked over to him.

"There you are. I wanted to talk to you." She said flapping the flower at him.

"Okay." He shrugged and set the manga aside. "What did you want to talk about?"

"Hold on." She approached him and put her hands on his neck. He looked up at her curiously. She leaned in and grinned and his ears twitched nervously. His hair pulled lightly and he blinked at her.

"What are you doing?" He demanded with a puzzled look.

"This!" She held up the necklace that had seemed to dominate his life for the last few months.

"What?" He looked up in shock. "Why did you?"

She put the necklace in his hand and sat down beside him. "I don't need it anymore. Originally, it was just to control you so you didn't hurt anybody. Then, it was just another way for me to fight with you. Now, well, it's pretty useless. I mean, I don't need to control you because you're not out to kill me or anyone I care about. We hardly fight anymore and if you think about it, it really was unfair of me to use it on you."

"Tell me about it!" Inuyasha grumbled remembering all the pain he'd gone through because of the stupid necklace and its spell.

Kagome looked sheepish and laughed nervously. "Yes, well, I don't know if you noticed, but I did. Yesterday, when we brought all that stuff back, I told you to sit down. I didn't even think about it, it just happened. And you didn't fall! You were holding Kuniku and everything-"

"WHAT?!” Inuyasha leaped to his feet. “You said that word while I was holding Kuniku?! You could have killed my son!"

Kagome held up her hands. "I know I know! I wasn't thinking! I'm sorry! But nothing happened! You didn't fall!"

Inuyasha blinked. He hadn't fallen. "I didn't....why not?" Now, he was confused.

She shrugged. "I'm not sure. Maybe because I didn't want to hurt Kuniku. Maybe it's really some kind of mental trigger?"

"You accidentally "sat" me all the time." He pointed out with a sour frown.

"Well, maybe it was your protective instincts. They flared up so powerfully that they canceled out the reaction? I mean, Kaede said that only someone with enough power could control the beads right? So maybe you had the power to do it? I don't know. All I do know is they're useless now. You shouldn't have to wear them around if you don't want to. So, I decided to finally get rid of them." Kagome smiled.

"Thank you. I appreciate it." He sat down again and looked at the beads in his hands.

"Umm..." Kagome fidgeted, twisting the flower stem in her hands.


"I was wondering...are you still going to search for the jewel shards with us?"

He looked at the beads in his lap, then at her face. "I don't know. Before, I did it for reasons that don't seem as important now, to become a demon, to get revenge. But with Kuniku here, I can't let stupid decisions hurt him. I know that Naraku is a threat, and that is all the more reason for me to stop chasing him. I can't risk the life of my child. You have to understand, I care for all of you, but I can't!" He looked torn as he tried to explain himself.

Kagome reached forward and hugged him. "Shh," she soothed, running her fingers through his hair. "I understand Inuyasha. I do. Kuniku is too important. You’re right. I just wanted...I suppose I was being a little selfish. I wanted your company. But you have responsibilities now. How strange." She pulled back and smiled. "Inuyasha with responsibilities. Could it be that you are finally growing up?" She tugged playfully on his ears.

"Quit that!" He protested, flicking his ears. "I'm not a complete loser you know." He grumbled, crossing his arms. "I can be mature and stuff."

"I know, I know." She grinned at his sulking. "I know that when it's called for, you always do the right thing like you're doing now. I just wanted to talk about it. I think that the others and I will start off again soon. However, we’ll make this our new base, whether Sesshomaru likes it or not. We can't just suddenly forget about our friends."

"Thanks, Kagome." He smiled at her, gripping the beads tightly in his hands.

"That's what friends are for Inuyasha." She grinned and tugged on his ears once more before skipping off down the path before he could complain.

He watched her go and sat back with a sigh. He'd been expecting the conversation, but he hadn't thought it would take so much out of him. He certainly hadn't expected Kagome to remove the beads around his neck, but he was glad that she did. It freed him from any power that she'd held over him as well as any residual obligations he might have felt. He still had obligations to his friend, but none that made him follow her around like a puppy. It felt good to have them off like a weight had dropped from his shoulders, which it had. With a smile on his face, he picked up his books and returned to the house to see Kuniku.

After dinner that night, Kagome and Sango offered to watch Kuniku and Rin while Sesshomaru and Inuyasha had some time to themselves. Inuyasha smiled and thanked them both. He was walking down the hall, thinking of what to do with his night off when Sesshomaru walked up beside him.

"Come with me to the hot springs," Sesshomaru said as they walked back to their rooms.

Inuyasha looked up at him. The last time Inuyasha had been in the springs with Sesshomaru, he'd felt nervous about having Sesshomaru watch him. He still felt nervous, but a good soak sounded nice. He weighed his options and finally nodded. "Sure."

"Come then." Sesshomaru set his hand on Inuyasha's lower back and led him out to the gardens. He kept his hand in place as they walked down the path to the springs. Inuyasha felt the warmth from that hand flow through him. When they reached the springs Sesshomaru let his hand fall and began to undress. He wasn't wearing his heavy armor, just a simple kimono and sash. Even his fluffy white thing had been left inside. Inuyasha really had no name for the fluffy white thing. It seemed to be part fashion accessory, part weapon. Maybe someday he'd ask Sesshomaru just what the hell it was. Inuyasha turned his eyes away as Sesshomaru's robe dropped. He began to hesitantly untie his own robes as he heard Sesshomaru slip into the water.

"Come, it is not as if you have things I haven't seen before," Sesshomaru purred, amusement evident in his voice.

Inuyasha shrugged off the comment, not sure how to respond. Did Sesshomaru mean that they were both men and Inuyasha didn't have anything unfamiliar to him or did he instead refer to the fact that he'd already seen Inuyasha naked? The half-demon wasn't sure and so ignored it as he finally let his robe drop and turned back to the water. Sesshomaru had moved out into the deeper parts of the water but was still watching Inuyasha. Inuyasha put a toe in the spring before he stepped in, sighing as the warm water surrounded him.

"Around here there is an alcove to sit in," Sesshomaru motioned around a bend in the spring and moved towards it.

Inuyasha nodded and followed, moving slowly through the warm water. As he rounded the bend, he saw Sesshomaru settling down onto a submerged shelf in the small alcove surrounded by green plants and blooming flowers. Inuyasha moved into the small rounded cove and settled himself across from Sesshomaru, closing his eyes and letting his head fall back. He let his mind drift for a little while as the heat of the water sank into his bones.

"You are no longer wearing those beads," Sesshomaru commented after a while.

"No. Kagome took them off this afternoon. I put them away in a drawer," Inuyasha said, not opening his eyes.

"That is good, you are free from them now. And your skin is no longer blocked by their presence."

Inuyasha felt the heat rising up to his cheeks and mumbled an indistinct reply. He heard the swish of water and a moment later the ripples touched him. He opened his eyes to find Sesshomaru sitting inches away. His eyes widened, but he didn't withdraw. instead, he sat and watched his brother, who was staring at him intently. Shivers crawled down his spine as Sesshomaru continued to stare.

"What?!" Inuyasha finally burst out. "Why are you staring at me?"

"You've turned human." Sesshomaru said reaching out and running his fingers through silky black hair.

Inuyasha blinked and looked up at the dark sky. Sure enough, the moon was nowhere to be seen. How could he have forgotten something as important as the New Moon, when he changed into a human? With all the activity from the arrival of Kuniku and settling into Sesshomaru's house, it had completely slipped his mind. He jumped slightly as lips nibbled at his ear. "S-Sesshomaru!"

"Hush," Sesshomaru murmured as he ran his tongue over the delicate pink shell of Inuyasha's human ear. His fingers massaged his brother's scalp, running through the silky black strands of hair. "I wish only to touch my mate." Inuyasha shivered at his brother's husky tone of voice.

"It's weird.” He complained. “I-I'm not used to this s-stuff," Inuyasha stuttered. Indeed, he was not used to his brother's attention at all. He was used to death threats and fights. He wasn’t used to the more affectionate side of Sesshomaru and especially not his sensual side. This didn’t turn out so well for him last time. Still, he couldn’t pull away.

"I will make you accustomed to this attention my beautiful Inuyasha," Sesshomaru informed his brother, nibbling on his tender earlobe.

Inuyasha let forth a little squeak of surprise. Sesshomaru's hand wrapped around his waist and settled on his hip, pulling him to face his brother. Sesshomaru leaned in and captured Inuyasha's lips. The first kiss was aggressive, his tongue reaching into Inuyasha's mouth and stealing his breath. As he withdrew, he looked deep into Inuyasha's deep brown eyes. "You no longer draw away at my touch." Sesshomaru said running a clawed hand over Inuyasha's soft cheek.

"I like your touch," Inuyasha admitted quietly, leaning into Sesshomaru's hand to demonstrate.

Sesshomaru smiled and moved back in to kiss Inuyasha, softer this time, lingering sweetly. The kiss made Inuyasha's heart flutter. It was so tender and gentle. He wanted more. He leaned into Sesshomaru's kisses eagerly. Sesshomaru's hand slid down his back, leaving faint trails of fire where his nails barely scraped the skin. Inuyasha hesitantly wrapped one arm around Sesshomaru's shoulder, pulling himself closer. Sesshomaru's hand pressed on his lower back, drawing their bodies together and Inuyasha moaned softly.

"So beautiful, my mate," Sesshomaru whispered as he pulled back, gold catching brown. He lowered his lips to Inuyasha's neck and sucked on the pale skin there. Inuyasha let his head fall to the side as Sesshomaru licked on the delicate flesh of his neck. Kisses dragged downward to his collarbone, where teeth scraped lightly, causing the half-human to shiver in his brother's embrace.

Sesshomaru dragged Inuyasha in to straddle his lap with a small growl. He bent in towards Inuyasha's chest, a source of fascination for him these last few days. Despite Inuyasha's change to human form, he still had swollen breasts. Arousal made his nipples stand at attention and Sesshomaru ran his tongue around one of Inuyasha's nipples. The flesh was soft and the nipple tightened further at his attention. As he wanted to do since the first time he watched Inuyasha feed their son, he took the tight nipple into his mouth and sucked gently. His suckling yielded drops of sweet heavy milk that his brother's body had produced. The thought was somehow arousing and he continued to suckle at his brother's breast, bringing forth low groans from Inuyasha who began to squirm in his lap.

"Sesshomaru!" Inuyasha exclaimed breathlessly as the demon switched breasts. Inuyasha's hands tangled in Sesshomaru's silvery white hair, keeping his brother's face to his chest. The strange jolts of pleasure he experienced while Kuniku fed seemed to have intensified a hundredfold as Sesshomaru suckled at his chest. With a small nip, Sesshomaru finally drew back licking his lips.

"Did you like that?" He asked running his hands along the insides of Inuyasha's thighs.

"Yes." Inuyasha hissed softly, eyes glazed with pleasure.

"Good." His hands spread Inuyasha's thighs wide as he wrapped the long legs of his brother around his waist. The motions brought their erection in close contact and Inuyasha moaned, his head resting on Sesshomaru's shoulder. Inuyasha had just begun thrusting gently against his brother when a loud crash from the house made him jump.

Sesshomaru froze. "Something's wrong." He stood and bringing Inuyasha with him. "Hold on." Inuyasha barely had time to wrap his arms around his brother's shoulders before Sesshomaru leapt into the air. They landed in front of the bathhouse where Sesshomaru paused for a moment to grab two white robes. He grabbed Inuyasha around the waist, both of them in robes half tied and leapt once more towards the house. There was a large hole in the ceiling where Sesshomaru's private chambers were. Inuyasha's heart dropped into his toes as he realized that it was also where Kuniku and Rin were. They dropped straight through the hole and into a fierce battle between Inuyasha's friends and Naraku.

"Inuyasha!" Kagome called out from a corner where she cradled Kuniku and sheltered Rin and Shippo.

"Kagome!" Inuyasha freed himself from his brother's arms and ran to them, taking a crying Kuniku from his friend's arms. "What happened?"

"We were sitting around with Kuniku and Rin when the ceiling exploded and Naraku came in." Kagome waved to the scene behind Inuyasha's back.

Sango was battling with her little brother, Kohaku, and trying not to damage him. Miroku was trying to fight off the many-tentacled Naraku without the aid of his wind tunnel because of the wasps hovering in the air. Jaken was in the background sending fireballs at the wasps, but there were so many it barely reduced their numbers. Sesshomaru immediately joined the battle, attacking the baboon-skinned demon with intense ferocity.

"You dare invade my house?" Sesshomaru hissed, clawing at the waving brown tentacles of the other demon.

"Ah, Sesshomaru. It seems that you harbor something I desire. Once I have what I want, I will be on my way," Naraku said calmly even as Sesshomaru and Miroku separated groups of his tentacles from the main mass only to have more sprout out.

"If it is here, then it is mine and not yours to take," Sesshomaru growled, wanting nothing more than to rip the other demon to shreds.

"Surely you have noticed that I always get what I want," Naraku replied, his tentacles stabbing at Sesshomaru, who easily dodged.

"Not this night." Sesshomaru sent a sizzling poisonous claw towards Naraku's cloaked face only to be brushed aside with a powerful swipe of a tentacle.

"What have we here?" One writhing brown limb began to reach towards Inuyasha and Kagome. "Could this fetching creature be dear little Inuyasha? And what's this you carry? A child? How interesting."

"Don't touch him!" Kagome stepped out in front of Inuyasha, her bow notched with an arrow.

Naraku laughed. "Foolish child, I will take what I want." He swiped at her, but she leapt back and let her arrow fly to the heart of the baboon skin that rested atop the swarming mass of tentacles. Naraku jerked back as the arrow hit with a bright flash but was not deterred. Another tentacle wrapped around Kagome's ankle and threw her into a wall.

"Kagome!" Inuyasha cried watching his friend crash through the wall and skid out into the hallway. He growled as he retreated, holding Kuniku tightly in one arm and herding Rin and Shippo along with the other. "Naraku you bastard." He muttered, glaring at the white baboon skin.

"Inuyasha. I'm hurt by your words," Naraku crooned as he sent another wave of tentacles towards Inuyasha. Both Sesshomaru and Miroku leaped forward to prevent the tentacles from reaching Inuyasha, who was vulnerable in his human form.

Behind Inuyasha, Rin screamed and the robe he was wearing was pulled tightly. He spun around as one of Naraku's tentacles picked up the small girl by her throat. "Rin!" He cried lunging forward to save the girl. He jerked to a halt mid-air as a tentacle he hadn't seen plunged through his chest. With a strangled gasp, he looked down to make sure Kuniku wasn't hurt. The tentacle had gone through Inuyasha's heart, but Kuniku was safely cradled in the crook of his right arm. He could feel the blood welling up in his lungs as he suddenly coughed, turning his head so he wouldn't bleed on his son.

"Inuyasha!" Miroku barked, trying to get through to his friend but was thrown through a wall.

Sesshomaru turned to see the disturbance and snarled in fury. A tentacle impaled his leg before he could move off to Inuyasha's side and he was left to watch as the tentacle in Inuyasha's chest wrapped around his body, lifting it up into the air. Inuyasha was drawn up towards Naraku's main body and delivered into Naraku's fur cloaked arms. Inuyasha's blood immediately stained the white fur. The demon's pale hand appeared and caressed Inuyasha's face. "Such a shame that you are going to die." Naraku purred.

"No." Inuyasha gasped, even as blood welled up in his throat, dribbling down his lips.

"Yes." Naraku had leaned in so that the outline of his face was almost visible. "You will die." He whispered, his cold lips caressing Inuyasha's bloodied ones. "And I will take this precious child of yours."

"No!" Inuyasha denied, feebly trying to escape to no avail. He'd lost too much blood and without his demon healing abilities, he was fading quickly.

"Do not worry. I will take good care of this little one." Naraku said lifting a wailing Kuniku up out of Inuyasha's grasping arms. "I'm sure he will be as pretty as you. Too bad you'll never know." Naraku smirked as he kissed Inuyasha deeply, swiping the taste of his blood out of his mouth before letting his limp body drop down to the floor with a dull thump.

"Kuniku!" Inuyasha gurgled with the last of his strength, watching through a haze of black as Naraku stole away his child. A scream that he didn't have the life to release bubbled through him as his world turned dark with death and despair.

Chapter Text

Naraku was retreating, but the battle was far from over.

"Sango! Miroku! Follow him!" Sesshomaru ordered. "I will join you shortly. Do NOT let him harm my son."

"Yes!" The duo replied as they hopped onto Kilala and set off to chase the demon.

"Jaken! Bring the Tenseiga immediately!" Sesshomaru yelled as he limped to Inuyasha's side.

"Yes, Master!" The toad demon sped off.

"Inuyasha," Sesshomaru murmured as he knelt into the pool of blood that surrounded his brother. "I will not let you die," he promised as he pulled the limp form into his arms. Even knowing that he could bring Inuyasha back didn’t lessen the pain of seeing his lifeless body. Somewhere along the way, Inuyasha had become so precious to him it felt like he was the one with a hole in his heart.

Jaken quickly reappeared dragging the Tenseiga along behind him. "Here Master! Here is the sword!"

"Good, now go find Rin and bring her to me." Sesshomaru turned his attention back to Inuyasha. "Brother," he whispered, running a hand over Inuyasha's cooling cheek. "You will not leave me." He picked up the sword and used it to cut the chains of death surrounding his brother, killing the ones who had come to take his mate from him. The wound in Inuyasha's chest pulsed. A light shone through and Sesshomaru watched as the gaping hole closed. Inuyasha stiffened and twitched as his body began to live again, his heart starting and a painful gasp drew air into his lungs. He coughed up blood and Sesshomaru tipped his head to the side so it would come out and he wouldn't choke on it.

He gathered Inuyasha in his arms standing carefully, his own leg just beginning to heal. He limped towards Inuyasha’s bedroom, which hadn't been destroyed in the battle, and laid his brother out on the bed. Inuyasha's body had healed, but he was still out cold. He looked up as Jaken pattered into the room with Rin in tow. Kagome and Shippo followed.

"I want you to stay here and watch over Inuyasha. I shall be going after Naraku," Sesshomaru said to Kagome as he stood up.

"No, I want to go with you," Kagome said, stepping forward.

Sesshomaru frowned and shook his head. "Someone must stay behind with Inuyasha."

The girl crossed her arms stubbornly. "But I can help you. I can see jewel shards."

"So can Master!" Jaken squawked indignantly.

Kagome blinked. "You can?"

"Yes, I'm a demon. I can see them as well as sense them. That is why you are forever chasing after demons with shards of the jewel."

"Oh." Kagome frowned.

Sesshomaru frowned. "I am wasting time, all of you stay here. We shall return with Kuniku and the jewel shards."

Kagome nodded, still not happy with it, but not about to argue with Sesshomaru, who was looking quite murderous, his eyes beginning to tinge with red. She was stubborn, but not so stupid as to provoke a demon lord who was worried about his mate and child. Sesshomaru turned and left. Rin jumped on the bed beside Inuyasha poking him gently with her finger.

"Yasha sleep?" She asked Kagome.

"Yes, Inuyasha is sleeping. He got hurt but he's all better now." Kagome moved to the bed.

"Rin slept too. Sesshomaru-sama wake Rin up." Rin smiled. "Yasha wake soon and live here like Rin!"

Kagome was sure that's the most she'd ever heard the young girl speak at one time. She nodded. "Yes, he will wake up soon and stay with you."

"Good good." Rin smiled sitting back on the bed and waiting.

She didn't have long to wait as Inuyasha bolted upright with a pained gasp and a frightened cry. "Kuniku!" His brown eyes searched the room wildly, landing on Rin whom he immediately snatched up. "Rin, you're alive." He hugged her tightly.

"Alive!" Rin glomped Inuyasha back, uncaring of the blood that soiled her clothing.

Kagome leaned in to touch Inuyasha's shoulder. "Inuyasha, are you alright?"

"Where's Kuniku?" Inuyasha looked over Rin's head at Kagome.

"Sesshomaru and the others have gone after him."

"Take me to them."

"I don't think that's such a good idea! You just almost died! You did die! And now you need to recover," Kagome argued.

"No! Take me to them!" Inuyasha set Rin aside and struggled off the bed.

"Inuyasha! You're too weak! You died! You're a human now and you'll only get in the way." Kagome fluttered around nervously, trying to push him back on the bed.

Inuyasha grit his teeth and glared. "Kagome, take me to them or I will go by myself."

"Inuyasha! You're so stubborn!" She yelled in frustration.

"Naraku has my child!" Inuyasha yelled back, fury in his brown eyes. "I am going and you can't stop me!" He staggered to his feet, holding his chest as he panted heavily.

Kagome stood, fists balled tightly as she counted to ten and back. "Fine. But you're not going without me."

A grim smirk twisted Inuyasha's features. "I knew you wouldn't let me down."

"Stupid jerk," she muttered as she pulled his arm over his shoulder, supporting him. "Shippo, you stay here with Rin and Jaken."

The fox demon nodded and leapt onto the bed, avoiding the large blood spots on the sheets. Jaken stepped forward hesitantly. "There are horses, plain stock, in the stables. Take them. He won't make it. Master would wish it."

Kagome nodded as she half lead, half dragged Inuyasha, out to the stables. Jaken and the others followed them to the front of the castle, watching as Kagome rode off on a horse, supporting Inuyasha from behind. Jaken wandered back into the house muttering about repairs leaving Rin and Shippo sitting in the night air. Rin stood up and started walking towards the gates.

"Where are you going?" Shippo asked, bounding after her.

"Rescue Kuniku."

Shippo paused, weighing the possibilities and consequences in his head. Finally, he looked up. "I'm coming too!"

Once Sesshomaru left the grounds, he shifted into his larger demon form. While he was a master at swords, his slender human form was vulnerable in ways that his larger form wasn't. Right now he needed brute strength more than finesse. He’d gladly bite Naraku in half should the opportunity arise. He leapt over trees as he spotted his prey ahead. His sharp ears picked up the sounds of Miroku and Sango as they harried the demon. He put on speed as he neared his prey. Naraku would pay for stealing his child and harming his mate. He growled as he gave a mighty leap and soared into the battle with a feral snarl. The two humans fell back as the giant demon dog leapt into battle. Large teeth fixed on some of Naraku's tentacles. He tore the appendages off, tossing them aside and looked up at the demon before him. Greenish black ichor leaked from the wounds before new tentacles sprouted and started wriggling towards him. He snarled at the baboon-skinned demon, his red eyes raking over him. Where was Kuniku?

"Where is my son?" He demanded in a gravelly bark.

Naraku's laugh filled the clearing. "Did you think that I'd make it easy for you? He is gone. Your son is mine."

"Bastard!" Sesshomaru snarled as he hurled himself at the laughing figure with every intention of tearing out his throat.

Had anyone had time to look, they would have noticed Kohaku slipping through the trees with a small form cradled in his arms. As he had retreated after his master, Naraku had handed him the child and told him to run with him. Just as Kohaku had moved away with the baby in his arms, Miroku and Sango had arrived. He'd watched the battle only for a moment, his eyes locked upon the demon hunter. Then he had shaken off the sudden thrall and turned to follow out his master's orders.

He left the sounds of battle behind as he moved silently through the woods. The child in his arms seemed to have calmed down as his master passed him over. It was good that the child made no noise, for they were circling back towards Sesshomaru's castle. Now that it was nearly empty, the second part of his mission could be carried out. He would steal Inuyasha's tetsusaiga. Since he was human, he could touch it. His master had said that the sword might prove troublesome someday and it was best to be rid of it early.

Once he had the sword, he was to return to his master's castle. He would summon a flying demon and escape into the sky. He still needed stealth to complete his mission and so proceeded by foot. He could distantly hear the signs of battle as he left them behind. At one point, he had frozen as he heard the sound of hoofbeats thundering down the path. He was not on the path, but he was not far from it as he headed back towards the castle. If the child decided to cry, he might have a fight on his hands. Luckily, the child seemed content to sleep and the horse and rider passed.

He thought that he might reach the castle again without incident. Of course, once the thought entered his head, everything changed. The child in his arms began to shift restlessly. A hitch in the baby's breathing signaled the start of a long cry. Kohaku winced as the forest seemed to echo with the sound of the baby crying. He made soft noises and tried to comfort the child to no avail as it only continued to wail.

"Kuniku!" Kohaku looked up as a childish voice called out. A small figure rushed out from behind a tree and bounded for him. Rin bounced on her feet in front of Kohaku squealing, "Kuniku! Kuniku!"

"Rin!" Hot on the girl's heels, Shippo, the little fox demon, rushed out. He stopped short as he saw Kohaku holding Kuniku. "You." Shippo frowned.

"You," Kohaku replied, looking down at the small demon.

"What did you do to Kuniku?" Shippo growled, moving forward slowly.

"I did nothing."

"Then why is he crying?" The fox demanded.

"Wants Yasha." Rin nodded, moving closer to the boy and the baby.

"Stay back," Kohaku ordered as he stepped back.

"Rin, be careful," Shippo warned the girl.

"No!" Rin shook her head fiercely. "Kuniku needs sister."

Kohaku froze. "What did you say?"

"Kuniku needs sister. Rin is sister and here now. Give Kuniku to Rin, Kuniku needs Rin." Rin said matter-of-factly, holding her arms out to collect Kuniku.

Kohaku hesitated. "I...I can't give him to you. My master..."

"Is a killer. He's a liar. You shouldn't follow him." Shippo bristled. "You don’t owe him anything. He took your life to begin with!"

Kohaku paused. His master...his master gave him orders. Orders that hurt him. But he had to follow. Kohaku shook his head. "Don't talk, you lie."

"I'm not lying. Naraku killed your whole village. He killed you to use against your sister."

Again, Kohaku startled at the word. " sister?"

"Yeah. Sango, your sister."


"Yes, Sango. Your sister that you hurt. You hurt her every time you follow Naraku's orders. Don't you think it's time you stopped hurting her? Shouldn't you leave Naraku behind? Is he really so strong that you would forget your family?" Shippo chided.

"I-I don't mean to!" Kohaku argued defensively.

"But you do!"

"But my master..."

"He uses you. But his hold is broken now. Usually, you're a zombie,” Shippo pointed out. “Now you can talk about Sango. You should run while you can."

"I..." Kohaku looked confused.

Rin put out her hand, resting it on his where he held Kuniku. "Come with Rin. Give Kuniku to Rin and come home."

"Kohaku, don't let him win," Shippo said, approaching carefully. "Don't let him use you. Don't let him ruin your family. If you come with us, you can be happy again. You can be with your sister, with Sango, and Naraku can never hurt you again."

Kohaku's eyes shifted restlessly between the fox demon and the child before him. Rin smiled sweetly while Shippo looked focused and hopeful. Kuniku shifted in his arms, mewling out, a tiny fist waving out of the blankets. Rin tugged on Kohaku's arm, pulling him into a kneeling position. She moved in looking down at Kuniku and smiling. Her hand gently ran over his small arm and down to pet his stomach.

"No worry Kuniku, Rin is here now baby. Your sister is here." She leaned in and kissed his cheek delicately.

Kohaku made an almost inaudible noise. Shippo's ears pricked and he looked at the other boy. Tears had collected in the corners of Kohaku's dark eyes as he watched the scene unfold. Slowly, he looked up at Shippo, the tears breaking free and sliding down his cheeks. "I will come with you," he whispered.

Rin looked up at him, her small hands reaching out to touch the glimmering wetness on the boy's cheek. "You come home now," she instructed as she took his free hand and held it firmly. He nodded silently and allowed the girl to lead him home.

Chapter Text

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?"

"Don't what?"

"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.

Chapter Text

Inuyasha sat in the small courtyard fountain with Kuniku in his lap while Sesshomaru carefully scrubbed the blood from his brother's white hair. The elder demon wanted to rid his brother of all traces of Naraku's stench. He wanted to erase the evidence of the precious lifeblood the other demon had stolen from his mate. He wished to eradicate the other demon all together, but for now, he contented himself with eliminating Naraku's scent from his brother's long hair.

Inuyasha had similar thoughts as he cleaned their son. He gently ran a soapy cloth over Kuniku's body, cleaning away all traces of their ordeal. Kuniku had thankfully been unhurt in Naraku's attack, but he did carry the scent of the other demon. Inuyasha carefully scrubbed the demon's evil away from his child. Kuniku giggled and splashed his feet as Inuyasha tickled his tummy. Inuyasha smiled, grateful that the baby seemed unaffected by the terrible incident.

Momentarily distracted by his thoughts, Inuyasha stopped cleaning the baby. Kuniku burbled at him and grabbed Inuyasha's finger, trapping it tightly in his small fist. Inuyasha smiled at his son and wiggled his finger. Kuniku gurgled happily and tugged at the finger, bringing it to his mouth. He sucked on the digit, occasionally scraping his tiny needle-sharp fangs across it. Inuyasha gently patted his hair and closed his eyes, thankful that they had managed to get his son back.

"Tilt your head back," Sesshomaru instructed. As Inuyasha looked up, Sesshomaru shielded his brother's face from the water he poured over his head. Pink suds were washed out of Inuyasha's hair. Sesshomaru ran his fingers through his brother's hair, making sure all traces of blood were rinsed away. Once he was satisfied, he let his hand slide down Inuyasha's back. Inuyasha glanced back at him. "I'm finished." Sesshomaru explained.

The half-demon nodded as he stood up and handed his son over to his brother. "Thank you."

Sesshomaru took the baby and wrapped him carefully in a towel as Inuyasha wrung the water out of his hair. Inuyasha stepped out of the fountain and dried himself off before pulling on a clean robe. Sesshomaru wound an arm around his brother's waist, pulling him close. He was feeling very protective of his mate and child after the attack. He hadn't left their side since the previous night and he didn't plan to do so any time soon. It was uncertain whether or not Naraku would try to attack again so soon, but Sesshomaru was taking no chances. Before, he had counted mostly on his reputation to keep intruders away, but now he set up several more visible guards. Sango, Miroku, and Kagome had volunteered to patrol the area to make sure that nothing suspicious was happening. Jaken, Shippo, and Rin were keeping an eye on Kohaku. That was the theory at least. Somehow, Rin had roped her new friends into a highly elaborate tea ceremony that she'd made up. That left Sesshomaru and Inuyasha to sit with their son for some quiet family time.

Sesshomaru led Inuyasha to a quiet shaded section of the garden. They sat on the grass beneath a large cherry tree. Kuniku was settled in Inuyasha's lap once more while Sesshomaru sat behind Inuyasha and produced a comb from his sleeve. Gathering Inuyasha's damp hair, he began to comb it out. Occasionally, a bird sang out from somewhere in the garden and Kuniku would trill out in response. Inuyasha smiled and pet his son's tail, running his fingers through the damp fur until it was fluffy once more. Kuniku snuggled down into his father's lap and drifted to sleep.

Sesshomaru's hand slowed in Inuyasha's hair. He set aside the comb and shifted his position. He moved up, settling Inuyasha securely between his legs. He collected his brother's damp hair and set it over Inuyasha's shoulder. Slowly, his lips descended onto the patch of pale skin he'd uncovered. Sesshomaru wrapped his arms around Inuyasha's waist and settled one hand on his son's back, feeling the gentle rise and fall of his breaths. Inuyasha began to lean back into his brother's embrace, snuggling into the strong frame. Sesshomaru kissed his neck again, suckling lightly at the damp skin. After a moment, he gently bit down, pressing his teeth into the skin just enough to leave an impression without breaking through the soft tissue.

"Hey! What are you doing?" Inuyasha demanded, turning his head to glare at his brother.

"Reminding you that you're mine," Sesshomaru whispered, his tongue lapping at the small indentations he'd made in Inuyasha's flesh.

"Does that make you mine then?" Inuyasha challenged. His golden eyes flicked over his brother's face, then down to the hand resting on his flat stomach.

"We are mates now. You can say, where you are mine, I am also yours." Sesshomaru said, studying his brother's face.

Inuyasha pulled Sesshomaru's hand from his stomach. Looking up at his brother, he laced their fingers together. "Good." He squeezed his hand tightly as he leaned back into his brother's embrace.

Sesshomaru smiled lightly as he rested his head on his mate's shoulder, nuzzling him. Inuyasha sighed contentedly as they silently watched the rest of the day go by.

Chapter Text

"We patrolled all day and saw no signs of Naraku," Miroku said at dinner as the mismatched group sat around the table.

"That doesn't mean he's not out there," Inuyasha countered. He looked down at his son, sleeping peacefully on a cushion beside him. There was no way he'd let Naraku get his hands on Kuniku again. He’d die again if necessary, though he’d prefer to live to raise him. At least he knew that Sesshomaru would raise him if he died. It was a small comfort, but a comfort all the same to know that Kuniku would not grow up an orphan like he did.

"Indeed, he could be trying to trick us once more. We shall simply have to be more alert." The monk nodded as he sipped his tea.

"The castle is guarded more than it appears, doubly so now. There will be no repeat performances to bring down the house," Sesshomaru said. This was his castle, his home and he'd be damned if he was going to allow Naraku access to his mate and child again. He’d lost them once. It would not happen again.

"But, I’m here. You can't trust me," Kohaku said quietly as he looked down at his lap.

"Don't worry Kohaku. I will protect you from him. He will not have you again," Sango vowed, placing her hand on his shoulder. Kohaku seemed to shrink under the weight of her proclamation and she squeezed his shoulder reassuringly.

"We'll just watch you to make sure you stay safe." Kagome smiled reassuringly.

The young demon slayer nodded. Dinner continued in relative silence. They were all aware of the danger Kohaku posed. He had been released from Naraku's control before, but each time it was merely a trap. This time could be like all the others. Only time would tell if it was yet another of Naraku's endless machinations.

Rin yawned as she crawled into Sesshomaru's lap. "Tired."

"Did you have a busy day?" Sesshomaru looked down at the girl, running his hand through her hair.

She looked up at him and nodded. "Busy day. Had tea. Played toys. Tired now."

"Then it is bedtime for you." Sesshomaru picked up the girl and stood. He put his hand on Inuyasha's shoulder. "Join us soon."

Inuyasha glanced up at him and tilted his head. Sesshomaru nodded back and walked to the door.

"Bye bye." Rin waved over Sesshomaru's shoulder as she was carried from the room.

"Who knew that Sesshomaru could be so fatherly?" Kagome said once Sesshomaru was out of sight.

Sango smiled. "It certainly is a surprise." Considering their past run-ins with him, seeing him act paternally was surprising. The fact that it was a human girl he’d taken in was an even bigger shock given his obvious distaste of humans and half breeds.

"Not as surprising as Inuyasha's aptitude as a mother," Miroku commented with a smirk that he quickly hid behind his cup of tea.

"That's it!" Inuyasha yelled as he stood and kicked the monk in the face. "Shut up about that!" The half-demon growled while stomping on Miroku's head.

"Stop it Inuyasha, you'll wake Kuniku." Kagome frowned.

The half-demon grumbled, but backed off, leaving the monk with bright red footprints all over his face. "Fine, whatever. We're going to bed." Inuyasha scooped up his sleeping child and stalked out of the room.

"Miroku, you really need to learn when to keep your mouth shut," Shippo piped up.

"As if you have room to talk," the monk snorted as he straightened out his robes, pretending he hadn’t just been stomped on.

"Hey!" Shippo protested, his tail poofing out angrily. "I was only telling the truth you lousy pervert monk!"

Kagome shook her head. "At least some things don't change around here."

Inuyasha stalked down the hall and paused. Sesshomaru was standing at the end of the hallway waiting for him.

"I knew you wouldn't be far behind," Sesshomaru said quietly, a smug grin playing across his features.

"C'mon Yasha, Kuniku, sleep time," Rin called out, reaching towards them.

"We're coming," Inuyasha replied as he walked up to them, reaching out to take her outstretched hand in his.

"Yasha?" She said shyly.

Inuyasha tilted his head. "Yes, Rin?" He shook their connected hands.

"Wanna sleep with you and Kuniku." She clutched his hand tightly and watched him closely.

"Perhaps if you ask him properly, you may sleep with us," Sesshomaru suggested.

Rin screwed up her face in concentration. She opened her brown eyes and looked at Inuyasha with determination written across her small face. "Yasha, can Rin sleep with family tonight? Please?"

Inuyasha smiled. "Well, you are part of our family, right?"

Rin nodded enthusiastically.

"Then, of course, you can. Family sticks together," Inuyasha said, looking up at Sesshomaru. The elder demon nodded and Rin squeaked happily.

"Yay! Rin has family!” Rin released Inuyasha’s hand to throw her hands in the air. “Rin sleep with family."

"Yes Rin, now quiet down before you wake your brother," Sesshomaru said as they walked into the bedroom.

Their previous bedroom had been demolished in the attack. It would be a while until it was fully repaired, so Sesshomaru had taken them to a new room down the hall. It was just as large as the other, but the bed was different. It was a large mattress raised only a few inches from the floor and recessed into the wall. It was covered in large fluffy looking pillows. Upon seeing the pillows, Rin immediately dived out of Sesshomaru's arms and onto the large bed. She giggled as she burrowed around in the bed.

"I thought you were tired," Inuyasha said as he sat down on the corner of the bed.

"Yes, but Rin excited." She said as she popped up next to Inuyasha.

"Well, settle down, it's bedtime and we need our sleep." Inuyasha checked Kuniku's diaper before he selected a spot at the top of the bed to lay the infant down.

"Sleep time," Rin murmured as she followed Inuyasha and sat down beside the nest of pillows Inuyasha set around Kuniku.

"You got it," Inuyasha patted her head. "Lay down, you'll get to sleep in no time."

"Rin sleep no time," Rin sing-songed as she plopped back onto the bed and curled onto her side. She stretched out her hand and pressed the pillow down so she could see Kuniku. "Night night," she said softly.

Inuyasha backed off of the bed. As he stood, he found himself wrapped up in his brother's arms. "A family. This is what you've wanted, correct? Does this make you happy?"

Inuyasha looked down at the two small children in the bed. His children. One of his body and one who wormed her way into his heart. In the other room, he had friends that were like brothers and sisters to him and right was his true brother, his lover, his mate. It was strange and new, but Sesshomaru was right, it was something he’d wanted and longed for.

Inuyasha turned in Sesshomaru's arms and looked up, meeting his golden eyes. "It does make me happy," he said quietly as he wrapped his arms around Sesshomaru and rested his head against his chest. A gentle touch, just a simple hug left him almost aching it was so bittersweet. He wanted to soak up every touch his brother bestowed upon him, but each touch brought up the ache of the past and the uncertainty of the future. He was used to touches that brought him pain, but not like this.

"It was about time for some happiness in your life," Sesshomaru murmured as he lifted Inuyasha's chin and kissed him gently. "So tragic and yet so beautiful, my Inuyasha."

Inuyasha blushed, burying his face in his brother's hair. "Shut up," he muttered. "I'm not beautiful."

"Believe what you want," Sesshomaru stroked his brother's back, "but I think you are." Sesshomaru paused, studying his brother. "I also think that I shall be taking you with me." He released Inuyasha from his embrace and collected his hand. "Come."

Inuyasha looked at him curiously. "I thought we were sleeping in here."

Sesshomaru glanced back at his brother slyly. "Who said anything about sleep?"

Inuyasha's eyes grew wide as his brother pulled him into the next room and slid the door shut. He wasn’t sure what to expect as he was pulled into the next room. He was both relieved and disappointed to find a low table set with sake. One part of him craved the intimacy that Sesshomaru’s heated glance was hinting at, while the rest of him was still scared. He wanted to be closer to Sesshomaru, but so far all his experiences in that area were more pain than pleasure, mentally as well as physically.

“What’s wrong? Join me,” Sesshomaru said, holding up a sake bottle.

“Nothing. I’m fine,” Inuyasha muttered as he walked over to sit across from Sesshomaru. “Pour me some of that.”

“Of course.” Sesshomaru smiled as he served Inuyasha, then himself.

Inuyasha quickly tossed back the sake and immediately regretted it. It was strong! He coughed and gasped for breath.

Sesshomaru chuckled. “Careful, this is no human sake. This made by demons, for demons. You can get drunk quickly, so drink in moderation.”

“You should have said something earlier!” Inuyasha complained, embarrassed.

“My apologies,” Sesshomaru said. “Shall I water it down?”

“Nah,” Inuyasha said, picking at the snacks that were laid out on the table. “But I wouldn’t say no to tea.”

“Then tea you shall have,” Sesshomaru promised as he summoned a servant. Inuyasha had a pot of tea. He sipped the hot liquid, letting it soothe his throat as he watched Sesshomaru sip the strong sake. He’d only had the one small cup and he could already feel its warmth washing through his body. Or maybe that was the heat of Sesshomaru’s gaze. He blushed as he focused on his tea.

Sesshomaru studied him closely. “Won’t you join me on this side of the table?” he asked, patting the cushion next to him.

Inuyasha had been sitting closer to him lately. He let Sesshomaru groom him and cuddle him. They had even shared a bed, granted the children had been in it, but they had still shared a bed. But suddenly the intimacy of the moment felt like too much. He was afraid of what would happen if he moved closer. The expectation in the air was weighing him down. He wasn’t ready for that yet. He set down his teacup. “I’m going to check on the kids,” he said, pushing up from the table and standing quickly.

Sesshomaru looked up at him, eyebrow raised questioningly. “Shall I join you?” he asked.

Inuyasha shook his head. “Finish your sake. I’ll just get ready for bed.”

Sesshomaru gave him a considering look and nodded. “I’ll join you shortly,” he promised.

Inuyasha nodded and quickly escaped to the other room. His heart was beating wildly in his chest as he walked to the bed to check on Kuniku and Rin. He watched them as they slept, letting his heartbeat even out in his chest. It only now occurred to him that if he were to stay here, Sesshomaru would want to bed him again. What would that mean? Would it be like last time? Would it be a blur? Would it hurt? Would he get pregnant again? He was only just settling into being a parent to Kuniku. He didn’t think he’d be able to handle another child so soon. Would Sesshomaru expect it of him? Would he become a broodmare? He shuddered. He wasn’t sure what he wanted out of all of this, but it certainly wasn’t that.

He sighed as he glanced back at the door dividing the rooms. He could go back in there, but the thought of the tension in his room made him uncomfortable. Instead, he shed his robe and climbed into bed beside Kuniku. He arranged himself so there was no room to lie beside him and closed his eyes, trying to will himself to sleep. It didn’t work, as his thoughts buzzed around inside of his head like angry hornets, stinging him with their venomous suggestions. What if a broodmare was all Sesshomaru wanted? When would he get tired of playing at mates with Inuyasha? After all, good things didn’t last in his life.

The door opened between the rooms and Inuyasha flinched. He tried to keep his breathing even as he heard Sesshomaru approach the bed. Sesshomaru reached out, brushing his hand through Inuyasha’s hair. His hand retreated and a moment later, Sesshomaru pulled a blanket up over Inuyasha.

“Good night Inuyasha,” Sesshomaru murmured before making his way to the other side of the bed.

Inuyasha felt like it was hours before he took another breath as he sat there listening to Sesshomaru fall asleep. He sighed softly and tried to do the same, but sleep eluded him.

Chapter Text

"Stop me."

Inuyasha's ear twitched at the distant sound that pulled him from his restless sleep. It felt like he’d just fallen asleep and now he was being dragged awake. He groaned.


On the other side of the bed, Sesshomaru sat up. Inuyasha blinked his golden eyes sleepily. He watched as Sesshomaru walked to a dresser, pulled out a robe and slipped into it.

"Please. Please, stop me."

"Sesshomaru?" He asked quietly.

"Quickly, put clothes on. Follow me." Sesshomaru paused to pick up his sword where it lay on a low table before he stalked from the room.

Bewildered, Inuyasha stumbled out of bed. He turned to make sure that he hadn't woken the children. Rin and Kuniku slept on, oblivious to his little tumble. Once he was sure that they were sound asleep, he felt around to find something to wear. He pulled on a discarded robe and frowned when he realized that it was Sesshomaru’s and was a little too long. He didn't have the time or patience to find his own robe. Instead, he held up the material as he ran out into the hall to follow his brother's scent. As Inuyasha walked through the halls, he noticed that the voice that had woken him got stronger.

"Help me. Stop me! Somebody! Please!"

It was still only a whisper, but the speaker sounded desperate. It was the desperation more than the volume that pulled at him.


Inuyasha caught sight of Sesshomaru striding down the hall swiftly and he ran to catch up. "What's happening?"

"Naraku," he snarled in reply as he stopped and threw open the door to the girls' room. Kohaku was standing over his sister with his scythe in hand, trembling violently. Tears were running down his cheeks as he whispered to himself.

"Please stop me. Please stop me. I don't want to. Please stop me!" He looked up at Sesshomaru and Inuyasha, his eyes begging them. "Stop me," he called out as his hand jerked towards his sister's body and then struggled to pull back.

Inuyasha felt frozen in place, but Sesshomaru immediately leapt into action. He crossed the room in a burst of speed, grabbing the boy by his neck and pushing him away from the sleeping girls. His scythe went skittering across the floor as Sesshomaru bashed Kohaku's head into the wall. The resounding thump woke the two girls and the two demons sharing their beds.

Sango sat up, immediately alert, while Kagome moaned groggily and looked around in confusion. Kilala chirped at Sango's side, looking curiously at Inuyasha standing in the doorway in the overly large robe. Sango turned her head to see what had captured Inuyasha's attention. As she took in the situation, her eyes widened. "Kohaku!" She fought the sheets, stumbling out of bed and approaching Sesshomaru. "What are you doing?"

"He was trying to kill you," Inuyasha said from the doorway, getting over his paralysis and moving into the room.

"But why?" Sango demanded.

"Why do you think?" Sesshomaru snarled. "Naraku," he spat, his hand tightening around Kohaku's throat.

Kagome quickly tumbled out of bed and moved to her friend, supporting her as the other girl suddenly went weak-kneed. "I hoped that was over."

"It is not," he growled. "Now, come here girl," Sesshomaru ordered, glancing back at Kagome.

Kagome blinked. "Me? Why?"

"While I hold him, I want you to take the jewel shard from him."

"But that will kill him!" Kagome protested.

Sesshomaru snorted. "That is the point!"

"No! You can't!" Sango lunged at Sesshomaru. Inuyasha quickly jumped forward, catching the demon slayer and holding her back.

"Sango, no." He pushed her towards the bed where Kilala chirped in alarm. A frightened Shippo glomped onto the small cat demon and, for once, stayed silent as he watched with wide eyes.

"Kohaku!" Sango yelled, fighting Inuyasha. She pushed against him trying to break his grasp and move to her brother's side. Inuyasha held her firmly, grabbing at her wrists and trying to avoid getting a knee in the groin.

Kagome looked on in confusion, unsure of what to do or who to help.

"Come here, girl!" Sesshomaru snarled, his eyes flashing red with anger. Kagome took a hesitant step forward.

A jangling of metal signaled Miroku's appearance in the doorway. "What's going on?" He demanded, taking a low fighting stance.

"Hold her!" Inuyasha yelled as he pushed Sango into the monk.

Miroku caught her instinctively, wrapping his arms around her to calm her wild flailing.

"No, let me go," she cried, elbowing him in the stomach.

Winded, but not bested, he tightened his grip on the girl. "Calm down Sango," he said in a soft voice, trying to judge the situation in the room. He could either interfere or stand back and monitor the unfolding events. Seeing the look on Sesshomaru's face, he decided that it was best to hang back, for the moment.

Inuyasha grabbed Kagome and dragged her towards Sesshomaru. "Take it out, Kagome."

"But I can't!" Kagome protested. "If I do he'll die."

"Dammit! That's the point stupid!" Inuyasha yelled, pushing her towards Kohaku, who wasn't even struggling against Sesshomaru's hold. His sad eyes seemed to hold a look of relief as he dangled helplessly from Sesshomaru's strong grasp.

"But-" Kagome started.

"Do it or I do!" Sesshomaru snarled as he turned the boy's back towards her.

Hesitantly, Kagome reached out and touched Kohaku's back. "I can't. It's in him," she whispered miserably.

Inuyasha pushed her hand away. "Show me where." Kagome stared at him and he growled. "Kagome, show me where!" She quickly pointed to a place just under Kohaku's right shoulder. Inuyasha nodded and dragged his claws over the spot. Kagome gasped in horror, but Kohaku didn't even flinch. "There, get it now."

"No!" Sango screamed, bucking against Miroku's grip. He fought to keep his arms around her as he pulled her out into the hall.

Kagome looked ill as she reached out and plucked the jewel shard from one of the bloody slashes in Kohaku's back. She wavered as he went limp. Sango screamed in horror and denial. Kagome winced and stepped away. She turned and pressed the shard into Inuyasha's hand.

"Why?" She asked with tears in her eyes, not even able to bring herself to look at Sesshomaru and the lifeless body in his hands.

He didn't respond. Instead, he looked past her, watching as Sesshomaru laid the boy out on the floor. Sesshomaru drew his sword and brought it down swiftly. There was a brief flash and Kohaku gave a sudden gasp as his eyes flew open. Kagome turned and gaped as Kohaku's hands flew to his throat.

"What?" She looked from Sesshomaru to Kohaku.

"Tenseiga, sword of life," Inuyasha drawled. His tone, coupled with a roll of his eyes made her feel foolish.

"How did you know he was going to do that?" Kagome demanded, trying to cover up her embarrassment.

"I didn't. I saw him pick up the sword when we left the room, but I wasn't sure what he was doing until he asked you to take the shard out," Inuyasha explained.

"If we took the shard out, he would finally be rid of Naraku's control for good. With this sword, there was no fear of actually losing him," Sesshomaru said as he stepped up and took the small jewel shard from his brother's hand. He held it up and looked at the tiny fleck of crystal, really no more than a splinter. "So much trouble for these foolish things," he muttered, holding the shard out to Kagome.

Kagome hesitantly reached out her hand and Sesshomaru dropped the shard into her palm. “You could have just explained that from the start,” she muttered angrily as he glared at the bloody shard in her palm.

"Kohaku!" Sango sobbed. Miroku finally released her and the girl stumbled towards her brother. She dropped to her knees and hovered over him worriedly, tears flowing freely down her cheeks.

"Sango," the boy croaked, struggling to sit up.

"Don't move Kohaku, I'll take care of you," Sango urged, reaching down to gently lift her brother into her arms.

"I should get some medicine. They're going to need bandages," Kagome murmured, moving towards her bags.

"We should leave as well, before Rin and Kuniku wake in our absence," Sesshomaru said quietly.

Inuyasha nodded as he watched Sango care for her brother, but he made no move to leave.

Sesshomaru noticed Inuyasha's eyes glued to the demon slayers and sighed. "Inuyasha." He laid his hand on the small of his brother's back. The touch seemed to draw his attention away from the pair of siblings.


Sesshomaru reached up and stroked his brother's cheek. "We should return to our room. They will be fine. We have others we must see to."


Inuyasha gave the pair a final glance before allowing Sesshomaru to lead him from the room. His brother slowly guided him down the halls with his hand resting comfortably on Inuyasha's back. As they walked back into their room, Sesshomaru rested his sword against the wall and took Inuyasha into his arms. Startled, Inuyasha leaned into his brother's embrace, wondering what had brought on the sudden display of affection. He looked up at Sesshomaru questioningly.

"I'm sorry," his brother said quietly.

The half-demon blinked at those words. His brother was never sorry. Not to mention that he didn't have a clue as to what Sesshomaru was apologizing for. "What? Why?"

Sesshomaru lowered his head, reaching out to caress Inuyasha's cheek as he pressed their foreheads together. "I'm sorry that I was never there for you like that."

Inuyasha's eyes widened. "What? don't have wasn't-" he started, only to be cut off.

"I do. I want to. It's taken me a long time to realize, but I do regret how things have been in the past."

Inuyasha frowned. It was what he wanted to hear, but it was weird to hear it. There was no victory in it. Sesshomaru’s words just tasted like regret, and that made them less appealing than he thought they’d be. He should be happy that Sesshomaru saw the error of his ways, but all he felt was the bitterness and regret. He didn’t want those things. They were trying for something new. And he wasn’t sure exactly what that was or where he fit in it, but he wanted to move forward, not back. "Don't. It’s the past. Things are different now."

It was Sesshomaru’s turn to frown as Inuyasha deflected his apology. It was something he needed to say. It was something Inuyasha needed to hear. He needed Inuyasha to understand that he regretted his actions, that he would do better now. "Yes, and I shall make sure they stay that way. I'll make sure that you remember. I want you to know that I am sorry. In the past, I did not understand. I do now. I understand how important you are to me," Sesshomaru whispered, running his fingers through Inuyasha's hair.

Inuyasha briefly wondered if he was dreaming. Sesshomaru was not one to talk about feelings and regrets. He certainly didn't apologize, yet he was. He was opening himself to Inuyasha in a way that had never really happened before. Inuyasha was at a loss. He didn't know what to do but to confess as well. " never stopped being important to me," Inuyasha whispered back, clutching Sesshomaru's waist tightly. It was true, Sesshomaru had always been a central figure in his life. Whether it was love or hate, his brother had always been one of the most important people to him.

Sesshomaru closed his eyes at Inuyasha's admission. He wondered what he'd done to deserve Inuyasha. No matter what he had done to his brother in the past, the half-demon had never stopped thinking of him. Now, he was forgiven so easily that he felt humbled. More than his whispered confessions and apologies, humility was not something that came easily to the demon lord. He was used to feeling proud and superior. When it came to Inuyasha and his forgiving heart, Sesshomaru couldn't but help a little awed. He didn't even regret the feeling, rather he was glad for it. He was grateful that Inuyasha had such a great capacity for forgiveness within him that he was willing to put aside everything he'd known to start over with Sesshomaru.

"Thank you," he sighed as he pressed his lips to Inuyasha's. Inuyasha replied by kissing him back slowly. Sesshomaru slid his hand into the oversized robe, rubbing Inuyasha's warm skin. Inuyasha sighed softly, leaning into his brother.

On the bed, Kuniku started whimpering. Inuyasha drew away, his the robe sliding off his shoulder. "I'd better get him," he said, leaning up to press a quick kiss to Sesshomaru's lips. He might still be nervous about his future here, but he felt a little better about it. Sesshomaru had voiced some of the things he needed to hear and he felt a little lighter for it.

Sesshomaru slowly released Inuyasha and the half-demon turned to attend to their son. He watched him scoop up the child and rock him gently.

"Are you hungry? Need a new diaper?" Inuyasha asked softly, checking his diaper.

Rin yawned and stretched out. She sat up slowly, rubbing her eyes with her fists. "Gotta make water," she muttered, moving to crawl off the bed. Sesshomaru stepped forward and collected her. He and Inuyasha shared a private smile. After all the drama and angst was over and done, trust the children to bring them back down to earth again.

"Come little one," Sesshomaru murmured as he carried her off to go to the bathroom.

Inuyasha sat down on the bed with Kuniku. He looked down at his son and smiled. "I think this might work Kuniku. I really do."

Kuniku squawked at him angrily, reaching out to tug his hair. Inuyasha winced, trying to get his hair back from his son's death grip. "Okay! Okay! I get it, you need a new diaper." Kuniku yanked and Inuyasha yelped. Maybe things would work out, he just hoped that his hair would hold out until then.

Chapter Text

For the second time that morning, Inuyasha woke to voices. With a soft sigh, he rolled towards the sound. His brother was standing across the room with his back towards him. Sesshomaru was fully dressed and speaking in low tones with a strange floating cloud. There was a soft pop and the cloud disappeared, leaving a light mist hanging in the air. As the mist dissipated, Sesshomaru turned back towards the bed.

"What is it?" Inuyasha asked sleepily, fighting back a yawn. He hadn’t slept so well the night before. Sleep was trying to drag him back down.

"Someone with jewel shards is nearing the castle."

Inuyasha frowned. "Naraku?"

Sesshomaru shook his head. "I do not think so, but I am unwilling to take any chances. I will look into it for my own satisfaction."

"You're going alone?" Inuyasha started to sit up. "But I can-"

Sesshomaru put his hand on his brother's shoulder. "No. You stay here and take care of Kuniku and Rin. I will be back in time for breakfast."

Inuyasha chewed on his bottom lip nervously as he thought over his options.

Sesshomaru offered him a half-smile. "Do not worry. I have survived this long without your help and I plan to survive a great deal longer still. A simple intruder will not be my downfall."

Inuyasha's frown turned sullen at his brother's light, teasing tones.

Sesshomaru knelt beside him. "There will be many other opportunities for you to join me, but for now there are more important things for you to take care of," he said as he brushed his fingers through Inuyasha's mussed hair.

Inuyasha sighed but nodded. "Yeah." It was hard not to take it personally. He could fight after all. Better since Sesshomaru was training him, but his brother was right. He had to take care of their little family. It wasn’t a slight. Guarding their family was also an important duty, but the feeling of being left out made him feel twitchy.

Sesshomaru smiled gently as he leaned in and kissed his brother. "I will return soon."

"You'd better," the half-demon grumbled as he watched his Sesshomaru pick up his swords and sweep out of the room.

Inuyasha flopped back into the pillows and turned onto his side. He looked over at Kuniku and Rin as they slept undisturbed by the quiet conversations. Rin had managed to wiggle her way to the middle of the bed where she sprawled out upside down with one arm hanging off of the bed. Kuniku was lying on his back in the middle of his small nest of pillows. Inuyasha slowly reached out and stroked his son's hair. Kuniku sighed softly but didn't wake. Inuyasha smiled and closed his eyes, drifting back into a half sleep.

His rest didn't last long as a tapping on the door roused him. "Hold on," he muttered, dragging himself out of bed. He stopped to straighten up the robes that he was wearing. He realized that he was still wearing his brother's loose cast-off clothing from the previous night, but didn't bother to go through the effort of changing. He simply pulled the large robe tightly around himself and retied the belt as he walked towards the door. Once he felt somewhat decent, he pulled the door open. "Yeah?" He asked, dragging his hand through his hair.

Kagome stood on the other side of the door fidgeting. "Oh, Inuyasha. It's you," she said, looking around cautiously.

He quirked his lips in amusement. "Yeah. Just me. What do you want?"

She focused back on him. "Oh, I just wanted to tell you that I felt a jewel shard nearby, maybe even more than one."

"Really? Are you going to go after it?" Inuyasha asked with a frown.

"Actually, it's moving towards us. I thought that maybe I should warn you and Sesshomaru in case Naraku was coming back."

Inuyasha blinked. Oh. Oh! "He's already checking that out."

"Oh. Then I guess I didn't need to bother you after all." Kagome frowned.

"Don't worry about it. It's better that you did,” Inuyasha reassured her. “But Sesshomaru will take care of it. He said that he'd be back soon."

"Okay.” She smiled. “I'll see you at breakfast?" The girl asked.

"Yeah, at breakfast." He nodded. Inuyasha's ear twitched. Behind him, he could hear the soft hitch of Kuniku's breath that signaled a good long cry. "Well, Kuniku just woke up, so I'll see ya." Inuyasha closed the door and swiftly strode to the bed where the first wail erupted from Kuniku's mouth. Inuyasha reached out to pick up his son and tuck him carefully in his arms. "Well, good morning to you too."

Kuniku squirmed, waving his tiny fists around as he cried. Inuyasha cradled him and hummed, trying to soothe him as he started getting together everything needed to change a diaper. From the smell of his son, Inuyasha definitely had quite the job ahead. He set the squirming baby on the bed and proceeded to change a very stinky diaper. Once the old diaper was gone and Kuniku was clean and dry, his cries died down a little. Inuyasha finally quieted the baby by sitting back on the bed to feed him.

Rin wiggled her way up the bed to settle next to Inuyasha. "Where Sesshomaru?" She asked sleepily as she rested her head on Inuyasha's thigh.

"He went out for a little while. He should be back soon," Inuyasha explained softly.

The girl nodded her head as her eyes slowly drooped shut again. He let her sleep for a little while as Kuniku continued to feed. Once the baby was done, he pulled Rin out of bed to get ready for the day. After dressing and grooming himself and both children, they headed towards the dining room. Inuyasha's friends were already situated around the table chatting quietly and eating when Inuyasha walked in with Kuniku in one arm and Rin attached to his robe.

"Good morning," Kagome greeted with a smile.

"Good morning," he replied as he sat down at the place he'd claimed as his own.

"Sesshomaru hasn't returned yet?" Kagome asked.

"No, not yet." Inuyasha looked over the food on the table, making a small plate for Rin before picking up a few things for himself.

"You're not worried?"

Inuyasha shook his head. "Nah. He'll be back."

"I think I should tell you though, that the jewel shard is getting closer," Kagome said a bit worriedly.

"He probably picked it up." Inuyasha shrugged, continuing his breakfast. Sesshomaru said that he'd be back. He hadn't been gone for that long. He would wait a while before panicking. His brother was strong after all and said he would come back. "How is Kohaku this morning?" He asked, changing the subject and looking at the boy in question.

Kohaku, who had been avoiding people's eyes all morning, looked up suddenly. "I-I am fine thank you."

"Good to hear." He felt a little guilty about cutting the kid open, but it had to be done and he'd be a lot better off for it. "Are you going to be traveling with the others now?"

Sango nodded. "Yes. I wish to keep him close to me. Also, he is very skilled and with you no longer with us, we shall need all the help that we can get."

"Yeah, sorry about that," Inuyasha said, petting the baby in his lap with a smile.

"No need for apologies, Inuyasha. We understand that you have priorities," Miroku said.

"Yasha is staying," Rin called out happily.

Inuyasha smiled and put his hand on her head. "You betcha." He ruffled her hair and she giggled.

"Inuyasha," Kagome called. He looked up the girl and watched her nervously glance at the door. "I think you should know that those shards are getting closer."

Inuyasha frowned. "Should I go take a look?"

"That will not be necessary."

Inuyasha looked up as Sesshomaru walked into the room with a body hanging limply over his shoulder.

"Sesshomaru-Sama!" Rin trilled.

Sesshomaru nodded at the girl. "This wolf is an acquaintance of yours, is he not?" He asked the group, dropping the body to the floor. It landed with a loud thump and groaned.

"Is that...Kouga?!" Kagome asked, standing quickly.

Inuyasha wrinkled his nose. "Smells like him."

"I heard that," came the weak response from the floor.

"Kouga are you all right?" Kagome moved to kneel beside the wolf demon.

"He is not mortally wounded," Sesshomaru said as he walked towards his place at the table. He let his hand lightly brush through Inuyasha's hair as he walked by him.

"What took you so long?" Inuyasha demanded as Sesshomaru sat down.

"The wolf wanted to play games."

"I wasn't playing you bastard. I'm still gonna kill you." Kouga growled as he struggled to sit up. He looked worse for wear and had obviously been on the receiving end of Sesshomaru's claws.

"It will take more than a mere wolf demon to kill me," Sesshomaru said calmly.

Kouga tried to move forward, but froze and groaned in pain.

"Stupid wolf, just lay still," Inuyasha called.

"Shut up! Stinkin' dog," Kouga ground out.

"Silence!" Sesshomaru snarled. "If you do not hold your tongue, I will rip it out and feed it to you."

The room was silent, aside from Kouga's harsh breathing. Even Kuniku, who was startled by the noise, seemed unwilling to attract his father's attention by crying out.

It was Rin who eventually broke the tense silence. "Ooooooh! You got Sesshomaru maaaaad!"

Inuyasha snickered. Usually, he was the one pissing off his brother. It was refreshing to have someone else on the receiving end of that glare for once. "Just shut up and let Kagome put some bandages on you."

Kouga's glare softened as he turned to look at Kagome. "Kagome! Are you hurt? Why are you here with these guys? It's one thing to hang out with one stupid mutt, but two of them?!"

Sesshomaru began to growl dangerously.

Sango and Miroku quickly stood, sensing disaster in the air.

"Kagome! Why don't we bring Kouga back to my room so that we may tend to his injuries!" Miroku said, moving over to the pair and quickly yanking the wolf demon to his feet.

Kouga yipped in pain, but Miroku ignored him as he began dragging the demon from the room.

"Yes. Allow me to help. We should see to him immediately or else it might get worse," Sango added as she moved and put an arm under Kouga's free shoulder. "Come on Kagome!" She called as they disappeared from the room.

Kagome got up and quickly hurried after them. After the group had gone, Kohaku looked around feeling quite bewildered. Shippo sat next to him, still happily munching away at his breakfast.

"Don't worry," the little fox demon said, "you'll get used to it eventually." He patted Kohaku’s arm reassuringly.

Inuyasha chuckled. "So he's the trespasser with jewel shards?"

"Yes. Though now I am regretting my decision not to kill him outright."

"It's not like you to leave them alive like that. Why'd you bring him back here?"

"He kept dropping you and your human’s name. He accused me of eating you actually and said he'd get me for it."

"Aww, didn't know the mangy wolf cared." Inuyasha snorted. "Thanks for not killing him though. He's a pain, but he has his uses."

"He had better. If he does not learn to control his mouth, his new use will be as a rug in our bedroom."

Inuyasha made a face. "That's gross. Like I'd want his mangy carcass on the floor of our bedroom! It'd be like having him watching us all the time." He blushed slightly as he realized he’d called it their bedroom. He noticed Sesshomaru's smug expression and blushed even more, turning away from his brother.

Sesshomaru could only smirk to himself. Not only did Inuyasha refer to the bedroom as theirs, but he was obviously thinking of the kinds of activities they could get up to in their bedroom.

Shippo watched the dog siblings and shook his head. He had no idea what was going on, but it was too weird for him. "Hey Rin, wanna go play?"

Rin looked up and smiled. "Yes! Play please." She stood up and bounced. "Kohaku play too?" She asked, looking at the older boy.

"I-I don't know," Kohaku said glancing over at Sesshomaru.

The demon nodded his head, giving the young demon slayer the permission he was looking for.

"C'mon," Shippo chittered, hopping on Kohaku's shoulder.

"Okay." Kohaku stood up, careful not to knock Shippo from his shoulder. Rin ran up and grabbed his hand to drag him from the room.

"Bye bye!" Rin called out as she pulled the boys out to play in the garden.

"She has a lot of energy," Inuyasha commented, bemused.

"Yes. I often wonder how such a tiny girl can contain so much of it. I am convinced that she has some otherworldly powers that I do not yet know of," Sesshomaru said.

"Nah, kids are like that. Don't you remember when you were little?"

"That was a long time ago."

"Bet you drove everyone crazy." Inuyasha grinned.

"Nonsense. I was a perfectly behaved child." Sesshomaru protested.

"Whaaaaat?!" The siblings looked up to see Jaken standing in the doorway staring in disbelief. "Perfectly behaved?! Every other day you were out trying to get yourself killed! It's a wonder that you survived this long! If you didn't have such a wonderful caretaker like me, you would have been dead long before your father!"

Inuyasha snickered as Sesshomaru glared at his servant. "I was perfectly behaved in demon terms," he amended with an affronted sniff.

Jaken rolled his watery yellow eyes. "The human girl has nothing on you Master. Just wait until your son reaches an age where he can go crawling off into danger every time you take your eyes off of him for a second. Enjoy him while he's little."

Inuyasha looked down at the baby in his lap. He was small now, but with Jaken going on and on about what a hellion Sesshomaru was as a child, he began to realize the enormity of the situation. Not only did he have a baby, but he had a child that would grow and get into no end of trouble.

"And don't think that I'm going to be stuck watching him. I watched you as a child and now I have to put up with your pet human, but I'm getting old you know!" Jaken continued shrilly.

Kuniku squirmed in annoyance. It was so noisy around here. He looked up at Inuyasha and gurgled. Inuyasha picked him up, holding the baby at eye level. "Hey kid, do me a favor. When you feel like going off adventuring, bring your dad along okay?"

Kuniku cooed and kicked his feet as his little tail wagged lazily behind him.

"Inuyasha, do not encourage him." Sesshomaru frowned.

"What? Don't look at me, I was a good kid. If he's getting all wild and taking after you, you can run after him."

"We shall deal with the situation when it arrives."

"It'll come sooner than you think," Jaken warned.

"You may go now Jaken," Sesshomaru growled.

The small demon chuckled as he left. Sesshomaru would get his just deserts and Jaken would be right there watching and laughing. Revenge could be so sweet sometimes.

Chapter Text

Lightning arced across the sky, crackling angrily before ending in a loud boom. Inuyasha's ears twitched as he sat under the safety of the roof, watching the rain fall. Sesshomaru was inside reading and watching Kuniku while Inuyasha enjoyed a little time to himself. The rain was coming down hard, battering away at the earth. The plants of the garden were waving frantically in the wind as they were pushed down by the driving raindrops. Rain was quite violent when you stopped to watch it. Despite the anger of the storm and the volume of the thunder, Inuyasha found it to be quite soothing.

His ear flicked out as footsteps approached from the right. "You're up I see," Inuyasha called, not bothering to turn and look at the wolf that was walking towards him with a slight limp.

"No thanks to that brother of yours," Kouga grumbled loudly as he stopped beside Inuyasha and leaned back against the wall.

"I'm sure that you were just asking for it ya stupid wolf."

"How was I supposed to know that you guys came here willingly? Usually, you're trying to kill each other."

Inuyasha tilted his head, glancing through the corner of his golden eyes at the wolf. "A few things changed."

"Well, I can see that. Since when are you your brother's mate?" Kouga stared down at the half-demon who sighed and looked out at the rain again.

"I wasn't at first." His ears drooped slightly.

Kouga didn't miss the dejected slump of his shoulders. "What does that mean exactly?"

"It's complicated."

"Hey, I have plenty of time." Kouga shrugged as he crossed his arms, settling down for the long haul.

"It didn't start out that way," Inuyasha said slowly. "Us being mates, or even wanting to be."

Kouga nodded. From what he'd seen of the siblings' interactions, there wasn't a lot of love between them. At least in the past.

"I don't know why he did it, but suddenly he was fighting with me almost every night, but not trying to kill me. I couldn't figure it out at first. He'd attack me, but it was never enough to kill me. He would go after my weaknesses again and again. Slowly, I started to counter his moves. I finally realized that he was trying to train me! He never stopped and told me what he was doing, he'd just taunt me into a fight and we'd fight. It was weird. To have his attention and realize that he wasn't trying to kill me was like finding out that Naraku suddenly decided to repent or something. Instead of trying to kill me, Sesshomaru was trying to help me. It was confusing."

Inuyasha lapsed into silence. He closed his eyes, tilting his face up to feel the cool storm breeze on his skin. Lightning crackled across the sky, lighting up the garden for a moment. Kouga got the briefest glimpse of the true glory of Sesshomaru's grounds before it plunged into darkness once more. He counted to himself, tracking the progress of the storm while he waited for Inuyasha to continue.

"It was a full moon. He lured me out like he'd been doing for a while. We fought and then all of a sudden, the moon was shining down on us. I felt so hot. Before I knew it, he had me pinned against a tree and he was kissing me!" Inuyasha paused as a blush spread across his cheeks. He softly continued, "The thing is, it felt perfect like he was supposed to be doing that to me. I couldn't even push him away."

Kouga noted that the half-demon had brought his hand up to his lips as he spoke. Another arch of lightning lit Inuyasha's face, highlighting his distant expression as he stared off into the storm and remembered. The look made him seem vulnerable. Kouga had never really thought of the other demon that way. Even though Inuyasha was only half demon, Kouga recognized that he was very powerful in his own right. The dog fought with enough heart, arrogance, and determination for ten demons. Kouga had acknowledged Inuyasha's power and strength and thought of him as a worthy rival, even if he'd never admit it outright. Others had misjudged Inuyasha in the past but they usually paid for that mistake with their lives.

As the wolf thought about it, it slowly dawned on him that Inuyasha's life must have been full of such judgments. The life of a half-demon was not easy. It must have been a constant struggle, defending himself from the demons that looked down on him and the humans that feared and hated him. Even though Inuyasha had the power required to live this far, he had done so on his own, with no help, not even from his own brother. For a creature of a pack like Kouga, it made Inuyasha's struggle seem even greater. He knew that Inuyasha's brash arrogance was a big act, but until now, he hadn't realized the loud display was a shield that the half-demon put up to protect himself. He hadn't actually realized exactly what Inuyasha's bluster was hiding. Kouga wondered how many other people had realized that Inuyasha was putting on a show.

Inuyasha's words snapped Kouga from his thoughts as the half-demon continued. "It's a little blurry after that. The moon, it was like it was doing something to us. My memory flashes in and out. Clothes torn. Hands touching. Mouths meeting. Pain. Pleasure. Heat. Moaning."

Kouga shifted uncomfortably. While the description wasn't graphic, the way Inuyasha described it in a breathless voice full of remembered passion, it made the wolf feel a little hot under the armor as well.

"It never really stopped. We did it more than once." Inuyasha blushed, lowering his head. It was so embarrassing. He'd never actually talked about it before, but he felt like he needed to just get it out. "We fell asleep and sometime before dawn, I woke up. It was like my head was clearing of fog. Then...we did it again, but it was different. It was slow and soft and I can remember every part of it. That's when he bit me." Inuyasha touched the mark covered by his robe. "It was so intense, I blacked out. When I woke up, he was gone. He'd put my clothes over me and propped my sword beside me, then he left and that was the last time I saw him."

"Wait. He just left?" Kouga blinked. When demons mated, they didn't just run off like that. Most demons would at least wait until their offspring was born before running off to find another playmate. Those that mated for life simply did not leave at all.

Inuyasha nodded, his hair falling down to obscure his face. "Yeah."

"What kinda guy takes a mate and marks him and then runs off like a coward?" Kouga demanded.

"He was confused."

"Well, he should have stuck around to figure it out!" Kouga growled. "You said that was the last time you saw him. Then when was the next time?"

"Two weeks ago," Inuyasha said quietly. "He found us on the edge of his land right after I had Kuniku."

Kouga held up a hand. "Wait. Lemme get this straight. He mated with you and marked you and then he just got up and left. He never came back to check on you or anything? You bore his child alone with him never knowing?"

The half-demon nodded.

"That bastard!" Kouga spat. The jerk made him angry. As if Inuyasha hadn't put up with enough in his life, his brother mated him and then ran off like a coward, leaving Inuyasha alone and pregnant.

"He didn't know," Inuyasha protested. "I didn't even know. I didn't know that I could get pregnant."

"You didn't know?" Kouga stared at him incredulously.

"Nobody ever told me! It's not like I had anyone to ask you know!" Inuyasha snapped, crossing his arms defensively.

Kouga nodded. Inuyasha grew up alone; of course, he had no one to ask. "It's rare, but it happens more than people think."

"Sesshomaru was surprised too, ”Inuyasha said.

"A Lord like him should know all about the demon mating process. He was probably more surprised that it was a half-demon male. You have to be a fairly powerful male demon to be able to bear a child Inuyasha. Not just any male can do it."

"So, my demon blood was strong enough to outweigh the human blood?" Inuyasha murmured.

"Yep." Kouga nodded. "Pretty impressive."

Inuyasha looked up at him suspiciously. "Is that a compliment?"

The wolf demon shrugged. "Could be."

"That's gotta be a first."

They lapsed into silence once more. Inuyasha went back to watching the rain while Kouga watched Inuyasha. The half-demon seemed almost like another person when he was silent and thoughtful. The change of clothes helped too. Instead of his usual red fire rat robes, today he was in a dark blue patterned kimono. It made Kouga realize exactly how effective Inuyasha's cover was. When he sat with Inuyasha in this silence, the half-demon was barely recognizable. It was sad to think that Inuyasha could hide his inner self so well that even friends were put off by it.

"So, what are you going to do next?" Kouga finally asked.

"I'm staying here to take care of Kuniku."

"With him? You're staying here with him? Why?"

"He is Kuniku's father. And he wants me here. Nobody ever wants me anywhere," Inuyasha said desperately. To Kouga, it sounded almost as if Inuyasha were trying to convince himself just as much as he was trying to convince Kouga.

"That's not really true. Your friends want you around." Kouga pointed out, ignoring Inuyasha's outburst.

Inuyasha sighed. "I know, but it's dangerous traveling with them. I want Kuniku to grow up safe like I never did."

"There are other safe places besides this castle Inuyasha. You could come live with my pack if you wanted to."

Inuyasha looked at the wolf in surprise. "You'd let me live with your pack?"

Kouga shrugged. "Just ‘cause we're rivals doesn't mean that we can't be friends. I can do nice things ya know."

"I know, but I can't leave."

"Why not?" Kouga asked harshly as thunder cracked angrily.

"He is my mate Kouga. I can't leave."

"But he's hardly acknowledged your existence other than to try and kill you and then knock you up only to leave you all over again!" Kouga argued. "What kind of mate is that? Brother or not, he doesn't act like a pack mate should. He marked you and he ran away. Think Inuyasha. What kind of mate is that?"

"Stop it! Shut up!" Inuyasha leapt to his feet, glaring at the wolf demon. "He said I belong to him. He told me that he belongs to me!" Inuyasha whipped his hand towards his chest to drive his point home.

Kouga straightened, turning to glare at the half demon. "Maybe he did, but did he say that he loves you?" Inuyasha froze. Kouga could tell by the look in his eyes that he had hit upon something. He had to keep a triumphant smirk off of his face as he pressed his advantage. "He hasn't has he?" It wasn't really a question. They both knew it. Kouga stared at Inuyasha until the half-demon turned away from him. Inuyasha wrapped his arms around himself as his shoulders slumped in defeat. Kouga felt victorious but dismayed. He hadn't meant to hurt Inuyasha; he'd only meant to prove his point. "Inuyasha?"

"Go away," Inuyasha whispered.

"Look, I didn't mean to upset you." Kouga stepped towards him.

Inuyasha tensed. "Kouga," he growled softly. "Go away."

"It's your life. I just want to make sure that you don't waste it on someone who won't appreciate it."

"And who says that I don't appreciate him?" The voice that came from behind Kouga could have frozen the sun. It was certainly cold enough to freeze the blood in Kouga's veins.

"I-I'm just concerned is all." Kouga stuttered, daring to turn his head and glance at the demon lord that had snuck up on him.

"Your concern is noted and might be appreciated if not for the fact that you are upsetting Inuyasha and angering me." Sesshomaru brushed past the wolf as he stalked over to Inuyasha. He pulled his brother against his chest as he turned and glared at the wolf demon. Inuyasha settled into his arms, but kept his head down, not looking at Kouga. "You may stay the night, but you will leave in the morning. Do not attempt to approach him again or I will not be so generous in sparing your life next time."

Kouga nodded slowly. He knew that he had gone too far and he was lucky that Sesshomaru was holding his temper in check. "Inuyasha, I'm sorry. I'm just worried. I hope that you're happy ok?"

Inuyasha sighed and looked up. "Don't worry about me stupid wolf. I'm fine."

Kouga smirked. "Yeah. Fine. See ya 'round then dog breath." He quickly turned and limped away before Sesshomaru could change his mind about letting him go.

Sesshomaru growled softly but didn't pursue the wolf as Inuyasha turned around in his embrace. He looked down at his brother's upturned face. "He is walking a very dangerous line," Sesshomaru muttered.

"If he didn't act that way, he wouldn't be my friend," Inuyasha said with a slight smile.

"You have a strange concept of friendship." Sesshomaru shook his head. "And yet, I must admit my surprise at the loyalty of your menagerie."

"I sure know how to pick 'em don't I?"

"So it would seem." Sesshomaru ran a hand through Inuyasha's hair. "However, that is not what concerns me at the moment. You were wounded by his words."

Inuyasha flushed, looking away. "How long were you listening?"

"Since he tried to entice you away from me," Sesshomaru growled.

Inuyasha’s head jerked up to stare at Sesshomaru. "What? He wasn't trying to steal me!"

"Wasn't he? He was trying to convince you to leave me. I consider it stealing when he tries to take what's mine."

Inuyasha licked his lips nervously. "Ah...about that..."

Sesshomaru sighed, tightening his embrace. "You are feeling insecure."

"I know that you said that we belonged to each other and all, but I can't help feeling suspicious. It's a big change, ya know? First, you wanted to kill me. Then, you tried to teach me. We were suddenly together for a night and then you were gone. You say that you want me now, but for how long? How long will it be until you leave again?" Inuyasha looked up at Sesshomaru, his gold eyes seeking answers in his brother's face.

"Inuyasha." Sesshomaru paused, searching for what he wanted to say and considering his options carefully. "Sometimes even I am confused. For many years, I blamed you for things that were not your fault. That was my error, not yours. I have come to realize this. I know that I have treated you unfairly and I know that I was acting the coward when I abandoned you after that night, but I know that the mistakes were mine. I had spent so long hating you blindly that the sudden fire you ignited within me left me at a loss. I did not wish to stay and be tempted by you further when I could not figure out what drove my desires. I chose to retreat. Had I known about Kuniku, I would have stayed."

Inuyasha frowned. "So you would have stayed for our child, but I wasn't enough to hold you on my own."

Sesshomaru frowned. "No, that is not what I mean. Had I known that I'd left you with child, I would have cleared my head faster. I would have made more of an effort to figure out the strange emotions that were running rampant through me. I would have...I should have found a way to let you know that I care." The demon lord sighed into his brother's silver hair. He was making up excuses and they both knew it, but Inuyasha would have none of it and, truthfully, he deserved more than a handful of should haves.

The half-demon nodded. "Yeah, you should have."

"Then, will you allow me to now? I know that it is late and you are uncertain, but please know that I do care for you. There is a place for you in my heart. At times, it may seem that I do not have one, but it is there and you are there as well." Sesshomaru stared into his brother's eyes, trying to make him see the sincerity of his words. It was important that Inuyasha understood the place that he had in Sesshomaru's life. He was Sesshomaru's brother, mate and the bearer of his child. He was important in ways that Sesshomaru was still having trouble understanding, but that didn't dim his feelings any.

After listening to Sesshomaru's words and searching his eyes, Inuyasha sighed softly and nodded. He rested his head on his brother's shoulder, nuzzling him. "That's all you had to say. That's all I needed to hear."

"So simple to please?" Sesshomaru ran his fingers through his brother's hair, letting his hand linger possessively on his brother's waist.

"Shut up. I know that confession cost you more than you'll admit. Just don't forget, you need to say it more than once so that I won't forget it. Got it?" Inuyasha looked up at Sesshomaru with a serious glint in his eye.

Sesshomaru ducked his head in understanding. "I shall remind you as many times as necessary until you're tired of hearing me say it."

Inuyasha smiled. "Don't worry. That won't happen."

"Perhaps not, but I think that it's about time you came inside with me so that I may better prove my feelings to you."

"What exactly are you suggesting?" Inuyasha tilted his head.

"You'll see," Sesshomaru promised as he lured his brother indoors.

Chapter Text

Inuyasha was feeling strangely raw after his chat with Kouga and then Sesshomaru. Sesshomaru had said some things that he really needed to hear, but there was still so much left unsaid. And now, the sexual tension was back. Sesshomaru’s heated eyes were sliding over him like a physical touch as he guided Inuyasha into their bedroom.

“Where’s Kuniku and Rin?” he asked, looking around the empty bedroom.

“Your friends are watching them,” Sesshomaru said. “I believe we have some catching up to do.” He slid his hand down Inuyasha’s back, letting his fingers play around his waist.

Inuyasha flushed. The touch made him feel jumpy and off balance. “What kind of catching up?”

Sesshomaru guided Inuyasha to the bed, stopping before it. “I have treated you poorly and have much to make up for. I have to show you how one truly treats their mate.”

“There’s a special way?” Inuyasha asked eyebrow raised. “Do I have to read a book about it or something?”

Sesshomaru chuckled. “No. It is easy once you swallow your pride. Unfortunately, I have so much of that, it took me a long time to swallow. Far longer than it should have. I have neglected you and our son. For that, I am sorry.”

Inuyasha was staring up at him, wide-eyed. His ears tilted forward as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Sesshomaru was apologizing again. It was like he was another person when those words passed his lips because Sesshomaru was far too proud to lower himself to admit fault and apologize for it.

“I know a few apologies will not make up for my neglect. I will try, through actions and words, to be the mate that you deserve. I will show you how it should have been from the beginning.” Sesshomaru cupped Inuyasha’s cheek, tilting his head up to kiss him gently. Inuyasha was still in shock, but as Sesshomaru licked his lips, he began to respond. Sesshomaru drew back, caressing Inuyasha’s cheek. “Now, without the influence of the moon, allow me to worship you as you deserve.”

“Worship?!” Inuyasha sputtered.

“Worship,” Sesshomaru agreed as he tugged at the ties of Inuyasha’s yukata. Once it was untied, he pushed the robe from Inuyasha’s shoulder. He immediately leaned down to nuzzle the mating bite he’d left on Inuyasha. Inuyasha shivered. “I will taste every part of you, claim every part of you, and in return, I will give you all of me.”

Inuyasha whimpered as he wrapped his arms around Sesshomaru’s back. He clutched the material so tightly, Sesshomaru could feel the scrape of his claws against his back.

“Relax,” Sesshomaru murmured. “I’m here. I will take care of you.”

“For how long?” Inuyasha whispered. He enjoyed Sesshomaru’s touch, but he needed answers. Sesshomaru’s words made him feel better, but he was still hesitant, still waiting for everything to sour. He’d come so far, but there was still a voice inside of him telling him that he couldn’t have nice things, that everything would go to hell and he’d be left alone.

“Forever,” Sesshomaru replied, biting the mark. He scraped his canines across it lightly.

Inuyasha whimpered again, his knees going weak. It was what he wanted to hear. It was what he yearned for.

Sesshomaru grinned as he shifted away, sweeping Inuyasha up into his arms. He laid Inuyasha out on the bed, his yukata spread open around him, exposing him to Sesshomaru’s hungry gaze. He frowned at the sight of tears on Inuyasha’s cheeks. He reached out to touch Inuyasha’s cheek.

Inuyasha flinched, raising his hands to cover his face.

“Why are you hiding?” Sesshomaru asked, tugging gently at Inuyasha’s wrist.

“I don’t want you to see what kind of a weak mate you got stuck with,” Inuyasha muttered from behind his hands.

Sesshomaru snorted. “You are far from weak. Loud, brash, and untrained, but never weak.”

“A few kisses and some fancy words and I’m crying like a baby,” Inuyasha said.

“I imagine it’s a rare occurrence. I’m honored to witness,” Sesshomaru said, finally succeeding in moving Inuyasha’s hands. He pinned Inuyasha’s wrists to the bed as he leaned in to lick his tear-streaked face.

Inuyasha flushed. “You’re embarrassing.” He pulled one of his hands from Sesshomaru’s grip and pushed at Sesshomaru’s shoulder.

Sesshomaru grinned. “Mate’s privilege.” His licks slowly morphed into kisses. “And perhaps we were under the influence of the moon at first, but we mated with clear heads. Things happen for a reason, perhaps it began that way because we were both too stubborn to realize what was in front of us, but now we have each other. Don’t think that I’m stuck with you. I could have turned you away, denied what we had, what we made. But I realized that I was being a coward. I needed to stop running. I needed you.”

“You didn’t need me all this time,” Inuyasha said.

“And think how much poorer my life was because of that loss,” Sesshomaru said. “No family, no mate.” He straddled Inuyasha, his kisses moved down Inuyasha’s throat. He sucked the mating mark, scraping his teeth over it once more. “Think of all the time I wasted sulking and stewing in my own bitterness.”

“I’m thinking of that,” Inuyasha said softly, “but are you thinking of me? What I went through because father died, because you shunned me, because I was half human.” Inuyasha looked away.

Sesshomaru drew back. “I’m sorry. That was selfish of me.” He sighed. “Of the two of us, it feels that you are the one stuck with a terrible mate.” He moved off of Inuyasha, lying beside him and pulling him into his arms.

“You’re not terrible.” Inuyasha sniffled, pressing his face into Sesshomaru’s neck.

“Don’t defend my abhorrent behavior. It makes me feel worse,” Sesshomaru admitted. “It was foolish of me to think that we could gloss over the past and move onto mated bliss. But, you inflame me.”

“Yeah, I can feel that,” Inuyasha muttered, flushing, but continuing to hide his face away.

“I apologize,” Sesshomaru said. Sesshomaru shifted so his erection wouldn’t press against Inuyasha so obviously, but he could continue holding him. “We don’t have to do that tonight. We can just talk, as I should have done from the beginning.” They’d talked a few times, but never the full talk they needed to have. Frankly, he had avoided the heavy subjects hoping they could leave the past in the past as they moved forward, but that was a stupid thing to do. They had a past together and they needed to discuss it so they could move into the future. It would only be a bright future if they cleared out the cobwebs of their past.

“The kissing was nice,” Inuyasha admitted shyly.

Sesshomaru nodded as he threaded his fingers through Inuyasha’s hair. “Talking and kissing then. What would you like to talk about?”

“Why did you hate me?” Inuyasha asked, glancing up at him.

Sesshomaru frowned. “It wasn’t you specifically. It was all humans.” He stroked Inuyasha’s silky ear. “No. More than that, I loved no one. I respected father. I wanted to best him, become greater than him, but I never understood him. I held only disdain for all those around me, but especially humans. They were weak, selfish, and greedy. But father was fond of them. So fond of them that he took a human lover. He made a child with her. That child was you.” He kissed Inuyasha’s forehead gently. “I saw that as father lowering himself, sullying his bloodline and legacy. I wouldn’t listen to father’s words. I resented his actions. I resented you. And then he died saving you and I couldn’t understand why.”

Inuyasha was silent for a while, thinking it over. “Do you understand now?”

Sesshomaru nodded. “I do. And I feel foolish for having taken so long.” He sighed and nuzzled Inuyasha. “All this time, father was trying to tell me the secret of his great power and I wouldn’t listen. I lost time with him because I was stubborn. I lost time with you for the same reason. I will not lose more. I will not lose you or our son. I will be there for both of you, to protect you when you need it, to stand by your side when you fight, to watch our son grow, and to share the secrets of his heritage with him.”

“And what are those secrets?” Inuyasha asked.

He drew back so he could look Inuyasha in the eyes. “Having something to protect makes you strong. Emotions aren’t a weakness. Letting people in can only make you stronger.” He stroked Inuyasha’s face.

Inuyasha tilted his face into the touch. “That’s what made him strong?”

“That’s what makes you strong too. You’ve carried those secrets with you all along,” Sesshomaru said, running his thumb over Inuyasha’s cheekbone.

“I don’t always feel strong,” Inuyasha admitted.

“You're still young. You’ll grow into it. Now that you’re here, we can resume your training.”

“I missed training with you when you stopped.”

“I missed it too,” Sesshomaru admitted. “Several times I left the castle to find you, but I stopped myself.”

“Why did you stop coming?”

“Foolish pride mostly. That, and I worried that I would not be able to control myself around you.”

“Like you did that morning?”

Sesshomaru nodded. “We did not mate under the influence of the full moon. We rutted like animals, but the mating happened in the morning. When you were covered in my scent, I knew that I couldn't let anyone else have you. I made sure that you were mine, but I didn’t stay to take responsibility. I am not quite the grand demon Lord that I thought I was.” Sesshomaru gave Inuyasha a squeeze. “I cannot even properly claim and care for my mate. I abandoned you. Then, I allowed you to be murdered in my own home!”

“You brought me back to life,” Inuyasha pointed out.

“Only because father bestowed tensaiga upon me. I almost lost you. It’s a mistake I won’t make twice. Tenseiga can only revive a person once. I can never let that happen again. I’ve only just realized what I have and what I could possibly lose.”

“And what’s that?” Inuyasha asked.

“Everything,” Sesshomaru said, pressing a kiss to Inuyasha’s lips. “I have everything to lose.”

Inuyasha blushed and ducked his head.

“None of that,” Sesshomaru said. “You wanted answers, so I gave them to you. But I also believe you wanted kisses. I can kiss every part of you, but I am partial to your lips.” Sesshomaru tipped Inuyasha’s head up to kiss his lips once more.

Inuyasha pressed into the kiss, then pushed away. “Do you want to claim me again?” He blushed.

Sesshomaru grinned. “As many times as you’ll have me do so,” he said, his voice a low purr that sent shivers down Inuyasha’s spine.

Inuyasha licked his lips and asked the question that had been plaguing him since the other night. “Will you get me pregnant again?”

Sesshomaru paused. “Perhaps in time,” he said. “But Kuniku is still so small.”

Inuyasha let out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding. “So I won’t be a pup factory?”

Sesshomaru’s eyes widened. “Why would you think such a thing?”

Inuyasha pulled away, turning away from Sesshomaru. “I don’t know how this all works! I didn’t even know that I could get pregnant and now I have a baby. Can I have another? Will that happen every time we do it? I don’t know! Nobody told me. I had nobody to ask. And then you all act surprised that I’m surprised. I’ve been alone for so long.” Inuyasha curled in on himself.

Sesshomaru frowned. It seemed he was doomed to forever misstep with his brother. And he had no one to blame but himself. It was his own neglect that put Inuyasha into such a situation. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly, reaching out to Inuyasha. Inuyasha’s shoulder trembled under his hand. He sighed. He had apologized more in the last few days than in his entire life. But he would continue to do so as much as Inuyasha needed. “I moved past the talking part too quickly. Clearly, you have more questions, more that you need to know. You can ask anything of me and I’ll answer honestly.”

Inuyasha turned his head, glancing back over his shoulder. “Will I get pregnant again?” He asked.

“It is likely. Perhaps not now, so close to having just given birth, but you are young and clearly fertile, so it will happen again. But it needs not happen unintentionally. There are measures we can take to prevent pregnancy. Various teas and potions can be used. We can consult with a healer to find what will work best. Then, when you are ready, if you are ever ready, you can have another child. You don’t ever have to have another.”

“I might want to,” Inuyasha said, rolling back to face Sesshomaru, but leaving space between them.

Sesshomaru cupped his cheek. “Whatever you want,” he said, letting his thumb stroke over Inuyasha’s cheekbone. “We will do that before we attempt intimacies again.”

“Will it hurt?” Inuyasha asked quietly.

Sesshomaru closed his eyes and had to breathe in and out slowly. If he could go back in time to throttle himself, he would. Rather than making Inuyasha’s first time special and wonderful, it had been a wild animalistic rutting that left him asking questions such as that. “Never again,” he said, opening his eyes to meet Inuyasha’s. “And I regret that your first time hurt. It can be so wonderful. I will do everything in power to make it so in the future.”

Inuyasha blushed and nodded.

“We will, as the humans say, make love.”

Inuyasha turned a deeper shade of red but looked pleased by the pronouncement nevertheless.

“Tell me, what do you want the future to be like? What would you ask of me?”

Inuyasha frowned slightly. “I don’t know. I...I just want a safe place for Kuniku to grow up and be loved.”

“You will have that here. But it won’t only be Kuniku who is safe and loved.” Sesshomaru dared to move closer to Inuyasha once again, drawing him into his arms. “You will be safe and loved. Everything you missed out on, I will do my best to provide,” he murmured into Inuyasha’s ear.

“You don’t have to,” Inuyasha grumbled.

“But I want to. I’ll spoil you so much you’ll get sick of it and tell me to stop, and I’ll continue to do so.”

Inuyasha snorted. “Make up your mind. Are you going to give me what I want, or are you going to be obnoxious about it?”

“Likely both,” Sesshomaru admitted.

“Stubborn,” Inuyasha muttered.

“We both are,” Sesshomaru said.

“Yeah? You gonna do something about it?” Inuyasha asked, lifting his chin defiantly.

“Enjoy the challenge,” Sesshomaru said leaning in for a kiss.

Inuyasha flushed but kissed him back. “Don’t regret that,” Inuyasha said.

“I won’t,” Sesshomaru promised as he stroked Inuyasha’s hair. “There are many choices I’ve made that I regret, but this will never be one of them.”

Inuyasha closed his eyes, pushing into the touch. “When you say it like that, I almost believe you,” he said quietly.

“I’ll work hard until you do,” Sesshomaru assured him. “I may not be able to erase our past, but I will give you the best possible future, so maybe someday that past won’t hurt quite so much.”

“Thank you,” Inuyasha whispered.

“You’re welcome, my sweet mate.” Sesshomaru ran his hand down Inuyasha’s back. “Did you have any other burning questions that I can answer for you?”

Inuyasha looked thoughtful for a moment before he nodded. “Yeah, what the hell is this fluffy thing?” He asked.

Sesshomaru chuckled as he pressed a kiss to Inuyasha’s face.

Inuyasha pushed away. “No, seriously! What is that thing?!”

Chapter Text

Inuyasha sat outside of the gates to the castle with Kuniku in his lap soaking up the warm sun as Rin chased a dragonfly nearby. His friends had left early that morning, taking Kouga with them. They promised that they'd be back soon. Even the stupid wolf had promised to visit sometime. Though it had only been a few hours since the group had left, Inuyasha was already starting to feel a little lonely. They had been a group for so long, it was odd to be without them. He sighed, looking down at his son and stroking his soft hair. "Well, looks like it's just me and you kid," Inuyasha commented.

"Me too! Me too!" Rin called as she shuffled over and collapsed by Inuyasha's side.

"And I as well."

Inuyasha looked up as Sesshomaru strolled out of the castle to stand behind them.

Sesshomaru rested his hand on Inuyasha's shoulder. "You are not alone," he said, squeezing his shoulder gently.

Inuyasha smiled as he leaned into the touch. "No. Guess I'm not."

"Today, I am calling a conference to discuss the growing threat of Naraku with other area demon leaders. During this time, I would like for you, Kuniku, and Rin to stay in the family wing of the castle."

"What?" Inuyasha looked up and frowned. "You're saying we can't come out?"

Sesshomaru nodded.

"Why?" the half-demon demanded. "Are you trying to hide me?"

Sesshomaru's face softened. "No, it is nothing like that. If anything, I would like to hide you away and keep you to myself, but I know that is impossible. I just wanted to head off any harassment that might occur. Not all of the demons that will be joining us will be courteous and I do not want to start any new wars by killing someone who dared to touch my mate."

Inuyasha snorted. "If I didn't kill them first."

Sesshomaru inclined his head. "Yes. This is merely a precautionary measure. I feel that this meeting is important though."

"Yeah, I guess so. We really need to get rid of that bastard." He hugged his son. Kuniku cooed softly. He didn't need Naraku getting his slimy hands on his precious son again. He would tear the demon apart before he let that happen.

Sesshomaru knelt, sliding his arm around his brother and his son. The other arm was held out to Rin, who gladly jumped into the hug. "Don't worry. I won't let anything happen to our family."

"My hero," Inuyasha said. While his response was somewhat sarcastic, he easily leaned into Sesshomaru's half embrace. It was a comfortable position. It felt easier to be near him since they’d talked. Although, he wished that Sesshomaru had talked this particular plan over with him first. Looks like they still had a way to go on that whole communication thing.

"I expect the other leaders to begin arriving this afternoon. I will dine with them. I would like for you, Kuniku and Rin to dine in the family wing. I will join you at night to let you know how things are going. I am not trying to isolate you, I am merely trying to protect you. I will keep you informed and relay any insight or suggestions you might have," Sesshomaru said.

"Yeah, yeah." Inuyasha grumbled. Even with Sesshomaru explaining his intentions, it still felt like he was being hidden away like a dirty secret.

Sesshomaru dropped a kiss on Inuyasha's head. "I must go back inside to see that things are organized. Please join me for lunch. It will be our last meal together for a few days." He stood up, petting Rin on the head.

"Fine, fine." Inuyasha nodded.

"Then I will see you at lunch." Sesshomaru brushed his hand over Inuyasha ears before he turned and walked back into the castle.

The half-demon groaned. "This is going to suck!" He announced.

"Going to suck!" Rin echoed.

Inuyasha looked over at her. "Don't say that in front of Sesshomaru, we'll be in trouble."

"Will be quiet Yasha. Promise!" She nodded seriously.

He smiled at her. "Thanks."


"We're going to be stuck in the castle for who knows how long. We'd better make our time outside last."

She nodded. "Let's do flowers." She tugged on his free hand.

He grinned. "Ya wanna make flower crowns?"

"Yes, one for Kuniku."

He nodded. "Alright." He stood up. "Let's go to the garden. There's some good flowers there."

"Yay!" She cheered as she turned and ran back into the gates. Inuyasha followed her and they spent the rest of the afternoon weaving together grass and flowers. Inuyasha was able to weave a palm frond into a fish for Rin to carry around and Rin made a tiny crown of red clover flowers for Kuniku to wear.

Lunch with Sesshomaru was brief. He ate quickly, naming off the demons that had already arrived and the ones he was still expecting. It all meant mud to Inuyasha, so he just nodded as he fed Kuniku. It was after lunch that his imprisonment began. He laid down for a nap with Kuniku and Rin, but he just couldn't let his mind clear enough to rest. He ended up staring at the ceiling for an hour, wondering what Sesshomaru was doing.

While counting the number of breaths his son took, Inuyasha's ears twitched. He got up and walked to the door. There was someone in the hall and it definitely wasn't Sesshomaru. His brother's steps were completely silent. He could clearly hear the wooden tap of geta moving down the hall. He opened the door and looked out into the hall. A female demon was looking up and down the hall as if lost. She was dressed in a very formal kimono with her hair up in intricate ornaments. She spotted Inuyasha, her painted face showing surprise.

"What are you doing here?" He demanded.

"Oh. I'm sorry. I got lost. I was looking for Sesshomaru-sama's chambers," she said softly.

He frowned. "Why would you need to go there?"

She blushed. "I...I was hoping to offer myself to him."

He snorted. "He doesn't need anything like that. Go back where you came from before a guard comes." He started to turn away from her.

"But a guard won't come," she said as she approached swiftly. "I've taken care of them all. Now to take care of you."

He turned as she grabbed his shoulder, pulling him around. An evil grin curved her painted lips as they parted to let a thick smoke pour forth. Inuyasha choked as it spewed into his face. Within moments, his body went numb and he slumped to the ground, his eyes slowly slipping shut.

Rin woke up when Kuniku started crying. She sat up and rubbed her eyes before looking around curiously. Where was Yasha? She leaned over the baby, cooing at him soothingly. "It's ok. It's ok," she sang, rubbing his belly. He started to calm down and Rin crawled off the bed. "Yasha?"

She walked around the room. No sign of him. "Yasha!" She called louder. She crept over to the bathroom but found it empty. Kuniku started to cry again. Frowning, she walked over and carefully picked up the baby. "Shhh. It's ok. We find Yasha." She said, cradling Kuniku. She walked to the door and frowned when she noticed that it was open. Did Yasha go outside? She walked out into the hall but didn't see anything. She wandered up and down the halls calling for him, but he didn't seem to be anywhere! She was starting to get scared. She needed Sesshomaru!


Sesshomaru looked up, frowning as Rin's voice pierced the air. The discussion in the room paused as the shrill voice called again. He had told Inuyasha to make sure that Rin stayed in the family wing. It appeared that he had let her escape.

"Please excuse me for a moment," Sesshomaru said as he stood up. He didn't have time to leave the room before Rin burst in carrying Kuniku.

"Sesshomaru! Yasha is gone!"

He froze, staring at her and his son held carefully in her small arms. He ignored the nasty whispers about Sesshomaru's pet and the curious whispers about the baby. "What did you say?"

She frowned at him. Didn't he hear her the first time? "Yasha is gone! Not in the rooms at all! We looked for him! Not there! Kuniku cried. I'm scared."

He swept over, kneeling before her. He placed his hands on her shoulders. "Rin, are you certain? He's not there at all?"

She nodded. "Not there at all. He didn't come when Kuniku cried. Yasha always comes when Kuniku cries."

He nodded. She was right. Inuyasha was too attentive to let their son cry without answering. He lifted her and the baby and turned to the assembled demons. "We shall have a recess now. I will return shortly."

He walked swiftly back to the family wing, calling Inuyasha's name. Rin called for him too, but no half-demon brother appeared. Kuniku began to cry again and Sesshomaru had to shift the children around so he could soothe his son.

"Shhh, little one. We will find your mother," Sesshomaru murmured, his mind working swiftly, trying to think of where Inuyasha could have gone. Did he tire of waiting in the family wing so quickly? Was he in another part of the house?

"Master! Master!" Jaken's shrill voice pierced the air. The little green demon came barreling around the corner, huffing and puffing.

"What is it Jaken?" He asked, looking down at the small demon.

"Master! We've received a message! Naraku has taken Inuyasha!"

Chapter Text

Inuyasha twitched as something tickled his foot. He curled his toes, trying to escape the annoying sensation. It only continued, but rather than tickle, it began to hurt as the pressure increased. He moaned as he tugged at his foot, but it wasn't moving. The thing pressing on his foot pressed harder until it broke the skin and dug into the tender flesh. Inuyasha's eyes flew open as he yelped in pain.

"Good morning, Inuyasha."

A shadow at the foot of the bed shifted and moved into the weak lantern light. The object in Inuyasha's foot retreated. He squinted into the gloom, just able to make out the serpentine appendage climbing up towards the head of the shadow. It shifted and he was able to see Naraku's face grinning down at him as he licked a drop of blood from one of his tentacles.

"Naraku!" Inuyasha spat, attempting to lunge for the demon. It was only then that he realized that he'd been chained down to a stone table.

"Inuyasha. Your blood is so sweet. I wonder if that is the human blood in you." Naraku's tentacle stretched out towards his wounded foot. Inuyasha tried to move away but was kept immobile by the chains on his arms and legs. He winced as the tentacle scraped up the sole of his foot and dipped back into the wound it had inflicted. It lifted away again, delivering more of his blood to Naraku's tongue. "Delicious."

Inuyasha didn't have time to be disgusted by the display as he turned his head frantically. "Where is Kuniku?" He strained against the chains, growling as they refused to give.

"Relax." Naraku purred as his tentacle pushed Inuyasha down. "I left him in your brother's care. As lovely as your child is, I've lost interest in him.” He began to walk around Inuyasha trailing a tentacle over Inuyasha’s skin. “At first, I thought that stealing your son would be enough. He has a powerful aura about him. I have since changed my mind. I do not want the child of another. I want my own. These children I have built are not enough. They are never right. They’re failures. I want a better one. I want to create one naturally, one that is strong and full of life. I can think of no one more appropriate to give me that than you. You, the thorn in my side, will give me the perfect child." Naraku leered at Inuyasha as he caressed his stomach. “This is the place I will plant my seed.”

"The hell you will!" Inuyasha growled, pulling against the chains. “I already got a mate! And you ain’t him, so get the hell away from me!”

"You act as if you have a choice," Naraku said, leaning closer.

"I'll kill you if you touch me," Inuyasha snapped.

Naraku chuckled. "You are amusing as always Inuyasha. That is what I like about you." A tentacle caressed Inuyasha's face.

Inuyasha snapped at the tentacle and began to struggle again. There was no way in hell he was going to lay around and let Naraku knock him up or whatever the hell his plans were.

"Be good. If you cooperate I will make you feel good, better than your brother ever will."

"Go to hell," Inuyasha hissed.

"No. I don't think I will, but I'll gladly take you there," Naraku purred as his tentacles began to invade Inuyasha's robes.

Sesshomaru stormed into the meeting room with a child in each arm and Jaken close on his heels. The demons in the room looked up at the swift entrance. The ones nearest to him began to edge back as they felt the killing intent rolling off of him.

"Who was it?" Sesshomaru snarled, glaring at the assembled demons.

Many of the demons looked about confused, some were a little frightened, and all were trying to avoid catching Sesshomaru's sharp gaze.

"Who was what my lord?" an old forest troll asked.

"Who brought Naraku's minions into my home?"

"My lord, we would ne-"

"Do not lie," Sesshomaru snapped, cutting off whatever simpering voice tried to speak. "Somebody has! My mate is gone. He is in Naraku's clutches because one of you has betrayed me! I want to know who it is that I shall kill."

The gathered demons were silent as they looked from the furious demon lord to each other. Sesshomaru continued to look around the room, a murderous aura leeching from him. Finally, he turned and set Rin on the floor. He gently handed Kuniku to her.

"Rin, go with Jaken to the family wing and wait for me there." He patted her head and stroked his son’s cheek.

"Ok!" She nuzzled Kuniku as she turned to Jaken. "Let's go."

They left the room and Jaken slid the screen shut behind him. When Sesshomaru turned again, his eyes were red with the glint of murder. His aura pushed some of the lesser creatures back, others moved away from sheer fear. A chuckle from the corner of the room wound the tension further.

"So it's true. You have become soft. Keeping pet humans and mating with half humans. What's next? Turning on your fellow demons to let humans take over their territory? Are you sure that it is Naraku that we need to be worrying about and not you?"

Sesshomaru stared at the demon in the corner. He was the latest leader of the rock spider clan. A gray human-like torso sat upon what appeared to be a boulder with eight sharp legs supporting it. The rock spiders were a turbulent clan and leaders were overthrown quickly and often. Unfortunately, that meant the leaders were young cocky morons who were all about strength and violence and had little in the way of actual brains. Not only did they not think things through, but they were easily swayed by the sweet lies of people like Naraku.

"There is no benefit for anyone in siding with Naraku," Sesshomaru replied, glaring at the young demon.

"Of course you'd say that. But what about everyone else?" The spider looked around at the other demons. "What do you think?" He searched for some hint of agreement, but quickly tired of waiting. "Well? Speak up!"

An old demoness beside him sighed as she ruffled her ancient black feathers. "Foolish," she croaked.

"What?" He spun towards her angrily.

"You are foolish," she repeated. "To believe the words of one like Naraku."

"He told me-"

"Lies!" The demoness hissed. "Lies he told. You are young and stupid. Maybe you don't know. Naraku was not always a demon. He started out human and became like that through wicked ways. Most rotten and foul, he is full of lies and you fell for them because you are foolish."

A murmur of agreement went through the room.

"Our dislike of humans is not enough to make us turn against one that has been by our side for so long. Dogs have a fondness for humans. It may be their downfall in the end, but we all have our vices. Young Lord Sesshomaru's soft spot does not hurt us. But Naraku is a threat. You have betrayed us all with your stupidity."

The murmur grew louder and the young spider shifted his eight legs nervously.

"However, it is not up to us to punish you. We shall leave that to the one you've injured the most." The demoness shuffled aside.

The other demons cleared away from the young rock spider.

"I didn't betray anyone! He's just a half human!" The spider said insistently.

"And you are just trash," Sesshomaru said as he lunged forward, digging his poisonous claws into the spider's chest. Before the spasming body had even hit the floor, Sesshomaru had turned to the rest of the assembled demons. "Friends, allies, today I ask for your help. I am going to destroy Naraku once and for all. You do not have to be with me, but those who are against me may meet the same fate as this foolish one."

The old demoness shuffled up to him. "It's about time this gets taken care of. I will give you aid in your quest. We are counting on you, son of Inu no Taishou."

"Your faith in me is not misplaced Lady Kurowashi. I will rescue my mate and kill Naraku with or without help."

She chuckled. "Who is foolish now? Take our aid and go."

Sesshomaru nodded. He didn't even wait to see who, if anyone, followed him. Once off the grounds, he took his true demon form and sped off towards Naraku's castle to retrieve his mate.

Chapter Text

Chapter Sixteen: A Fitting End


Naraku had not expected Inuyasha to lay still while he initiated his plan. He counted on him attempting to fight back. Inuyasha did not disappoint him as he struggled like a rabid animal against the chains that bound him. Naraku had also not expected Inuyasha to escape, but on that count he was wrong. As Inuyasha struggled, Naraku noticed a change in the nature of his struggles. He went from evasive twisting and turning, punctuated with labored grunts, to aggressive jerks against the chains accompanied by a fierce snarl. He looked at Inuyasha's face and was caught up in demonic red eyes. Jagged purple marks ran under his eyes and sharp fangs protruded from his mouth.

"What an interesting development," Naraku said, reaching towards Inuyasha's face.

Inuyasha snapped at him and pulled hard against the chains, growling the whole time.

Naraku chuckled. "That's not going to work, these chains were made to hold half-demons such as yourself." He ran his finger along the chains, admiring Inuyasha’s struggles. His tentacles continued to caress Inuyasha’s skin.

Ignoring his words, Inuyasha pulled against the chains.

Naraku could see the perspiration glowing on his skin. He felt the urge to lick it off but he was distracted by a high whine in the air. "Impossible!"

No sooner had the word left his lips than the whine turned into a shrill shriek as the chains holding Inuyasha to the table snapped. Freed from the table, Inuyasha immediately leapt at Naraku with his fangs bared.

Naraku raised a group of tentacles to stop Inuyasha, but the half-demon was only slowed as he began to hack at them with his claws. The room was too confined for a fight. Naraku sent a tentacle through the ceiling and escaped out onto the roof. Inuyasha burst out of the hole seconds after, snarling menacingly.

Naraku sent a group of sharp tentacles speeding towards Inuyasha. The half-demon surprised him by landing lightly on the tip of one tentacle and running down towards him. Naraku made the base of the tentacle burst with spikes, but Inuyasha launched himself in the air, flipping nimbly as he sent a slash of energy towards him.

Naraku was able to slide out of the way of the attack, but the wooden tentacles he'd left behind splintered under the onslaught. "Very impressive," he called out to Inuyasha.

Inuyasha's only response was a snarl as he landed on the roof and launched towards him with stunning speed. This was not the Inuyasha he was used to fighting. He might have enjoyed this fight at any other time, but now it was ruining his plans. He needed to impregnate Inuyasha quickly and hide him away where Sesshomaru couldn't find him until the child was born. By fighting, he was merely wasting the short time he had until Sesshomaru arrived. He knew that the other demon would come. After all, Naraku had kidnapped his mate and gloated about the fact. It wasn't as though Sesshomaru would let it lie. Dogs were such stupid creatures, caught up in their faulty loyalty. Sesshomaru's loyalty and pride would make him come to wreak vengeance on the one who took his mate.

"If you're trying to buy time for your beloved to come rescue you, it's useless. This game will be over long before he finds you." He laughed as he sent out a swarm of wasps.

Inuyasha dove straight at the swarm insects and batting them out of the way as he aimed for Naraku. He raced for Naraku with claws extended, but he merely passed through him and crashed through the castle roof.

On a nearby roof, Naraku chuckled as he sent another swarm of wasps into the castle. Only a few needed to sting him to slow Inuyasha down. Once Naraku had him in his grasp again, there would be no more escaping.

Sesshomaru was frustrated with the pace of his allies. Even at the great speed at which they traveled, he felt that they were not reaching their destination fast enough. "I'm going ahead," he called as he increased his pace, leaving them swiftly as he began to cross the land without his feet ever making contact. Unburdened, he could soon smell the strong sweet scent of his mate up ahead mingled with the overwhelming stench of Naraku.

The thick poisonous miasma that Naraku was so fond of hung heavy in the air as Sesshomaru approached the castle. The poison had no effect on him as he strode through, using his nose to locate his mate. Through the haze, he could make out a dark figure.

"You're too late."

The haze cleared giving Sesshomaru a clear view of the situation. Naraku was floating over the ruins of a castle, holding his shoulder, which dripped with black blood. Below him, Inuyasha was suspended from his wrists by Naraku's wooden tentacles. Angry purple marks sliced across his cheeks and his half open eyes were glowing an angry red. Inuyasha had turned into a full demon without his sword around. Most disturbing was the black blood that dripped from his lips. It looks like he'd managed to get close enough to bite Naraku. While it was an impressive feat, it was also a stupid one since Naraku's blood was a poison that Inuyasha couldn't withstand even in his current form.

Sesshomaru wanted to go with his first instinct and rescue Inuyasha, but he knew that it was expected of him. The moment he tried, he would either be ambushed or Naraku would take the opportunity to disappear. Sesshomaru was determined to end Naraku's games today. He didn't want to constantly be on guard because the half-demon had slipped away once again. He didn't need that threat hanging over his family. He would end this today.

Sesshomaru leapt at Naraku. He was intercepted by a swarm of wasps. Their stings had no effect on him, but their numbers did obscure his vision enough to let Naraku move from the path of his attack. Sesshomaru swept his paw at the annoying insects. He caught movement off to his left, but the scent of Naraku came from ahead. He was not about to fall for Naraku's tricks. He was not there to play games. He was intent on seeing Naraku's black blood flow from his body along with his life.

He darted forward, slashing at the place where the scent of blood was strongest. Naraku's body appeared suddenly as he tried to dodge, but he was not quick enough. Sesshomaru's claws clipped him, spilling more of his caustic black blood on the ground.

Naraku hissed and flung his blood at Sesshomaru.

Sesshomaru moved his head to avoid getting the dark blood in his eyes, but he didn't retreat. "I'm going to kill you," he snarled.

Naraku laughed. "While you're busy with me, your precious mate is dying. He's tasted my blood and now he will die. You should go hold his hand while his life slips away."

Sesshomaru snapped at Naraku, just missing him as he threw himself out of the way of Sesshomaru's sharp fangs. He continued to chase the demon down as they traded blows. Naraku never stayed still, constantly trying to evade Sesshomaru and escape, but Sesshomaru was determined not to let him leave alive.

Frustrated, and sensing the arrival of Sesshomaru's allies, Naraku began to move back towards Inuyasha, hoping to use the half-demon against his mate.

As soon as Sesshomaru realized what Naraku was attempting, he moved back towards Inuyasha. He was going to defend his mate. He’d let Naraku slip through his defenses too many times already. He didn't want that vile creature to touch him again. He would protect Inuyasha this time around.

"Look at the fierce demon lord defending his mate," Naraku said, floating above him. "If only I had realized his potential sooner, I'd never let him slip from my grasp. That cur of yours would not exist. Inuyasha would only bear my perfect children."

"You're an abomination," Sesshomaru said. "Inuyasha would sooner die than carry your accursed spawn."

"Isn't it ironic? That is exactly what he is doing while you stand over him. What good is protecting him now when he is already dying from your failure to keep him safe?" Naraku laughed.

Naraku's words struck him hard. It was true. For a second time, Naraku had managed to infiltrate his household and hurt his mate. First, he'd managed to fatally wound him on his night of weakness. Then he'd managed to abduct him while Sesshomaru was oblivious. Now, Inuyasha was suffering the consequences of his failure once again. But if he went to him now and Naraku got away again, he knew that Inuyasha would be even angrier. He had to let his mate suffer in order to finish off Naraku. He hated it, but he knew it had to be this way.

"Inuyasha would rather suffer a few minutes more while I kill you than have me go to him while you escape," Sesshomaru said as he stood his ground.

Naraku snorted. "So now you know his heart?"

"I am his heart!" Sesshomaru snarled, surprised by his own vehement response.

Naraku also seemed to be shocked by Sesshomaru's words. His moment of hesitation cost him as he was hit with a wave of light. Sesshomaru's allies had finally arrived.

As his allies attacked Naraku, Sesshomaru fell back. He freed Inuyasha from the tentacles that held him aloft. He shifted forms and amid the rubble of Naraku's castle, cradling his injured mate. Inuyasha's eyes were glazed but still red as his demon blood ran rampant through his body. His skin was cold and clammy as Naraku's poison took its toll. Sesshomaru immediately slit his wrist open with his fangs and held it to Inuyasha's mouth. "Drink," he ordered.

Inuyasha's nose flared at the scent of blood. He licked his lips as the first drops fell onto them. Weakly, he opened his mouth and began to drink the blood that was offered to him. The more he drank, the more color returned to his pale skin and the red faded from his eyes. Inuyasha reached up and clamped his hands around Sesshomaru's wrist, holding it to his mouth as he began to greedily suck his blood.

Sesshomaru tugged on his wrist and Inuyasha whined. Sesshomaru ran his free hand through Inuyasha's hair. "That's enough. You are healed. Any more and your human blood may be overwhelmed again."

Reluctantly, Inuyasha let Sesshomaru reclaim his arm. He watched as the wound slowly closed, letting a few precious drops of blood drip to the ground. He licked the last of the blood from his lips and sighed. "You're wrong," he said, leaning into his brother.

"About what?" Sesshomaru asked, his eyebrows raised.

"Your blood didn't overwhelm me. It's soothing. Like it's putting the demon inside me at peace." Inuyasha smiled.

Sesshomaru stroked his hair. "I am glad that I can comfort you."

"Of course you can, you're my mate." He paused. "My heart."

Sesshomaru froze. Inuyasha had heard him. He hadn't expected him to, but he was glad that he did. Sesshomaru smiled gently and inclined his head, acknowledging his words.

Inuyasha rolled his eyes and pulled Sesshomaru down into a kiss. His tongue slid into Sesshomaru's mouth and tangled with his own.

Unfortunately, they were drawn from their kiss by an explosion. The battle against Naraku was still raging. Even with the sheer numbers the allies, they were having trouble against the power of Naraku. Having so many different demons making up his body and powers made him a complicated and dangerous foe.

"I must go help them," Sesshomaru said, rising to his feet.

Inuyasha jumped up. "I'm going too." Sesshomaru turned to look at him and Inuyasha growled. "Don't even think of telling me not to. That guy's given me too much trouble and heartache for me to just stand aside and let you take care of things."

"I wasn't going to," Sesshomaru replied, a grin twitching at his lips. Inuyasha was not a delicate princess that needed rescuing. He was not going to stand by while a battle was being fought. "I was merely going to remind you not to forget your sword." He pulled Inuyasha's Tetsusaiga from his belt and handed it to him.

Inuyasha gave him an excited grin as he unsheathed his sword. "Let's go!"

Sesshomaru nodded as they leapt in to re-join the fight.

The battle was not easy. While numbers were on their side, Naraku still possessed pieces of the Shikon Jewel. He used every trick at his disposal. He called forth his "children", he used illusions, puppets, wasps, poison. But in the end, it simply wasn't enough against the power and determination of Sesshomaru and his allies.

The ground was dark with splashes of blood from both ally and enemy. Naraku was leaning against a large stone glaring at the demons surrounding him. He wasn't the only one that had taken losses. He'd killed quite a few of them, but it was never enough and never who he truly wanted to kill. While he had managed to wound Sesshomaru, he'd been unable to kill him. He glared darkly at the dog demon that towered over him. Even with the gash on his chest that he'd delivered, the demon was still standing, glaring back at him while Inuyasha stood defiantly on his head with his sword hefted over his shoulder.

This was not how things were supposed to turn out. He should have been able to impregnate Inuyasha and keep him locked away for his own pleasure, but he had underestimated the half-demon and he had underestimated the determination of his mate. Somehow, their loathing for each other had turned to love. While it was easier to use that love against them, it was also stronger and the consequences of interfering were severe.

Now, he found himself cornered in the ruins of his own castle, bleeding and weak as he stared up at Inuyasha. Inuyasha who had turned his own love into hate when he stole Kikyo. Inuyasha who always managed to elude his grasp. Inuyasha who never gave him what he truly wanted most. And what was that? What did he want most? It seemed that Inuyasha was the answer. He had wanted the fiery half-demon. Somewhere along the way, he'd come to desire him. Inuyasha was never far from his mind. He constantly dreamed up ways to provoke him, to torture him, just to watch him.

"It's over," Sesshomaru said, watching Naraku carefully. He didn't want him to pull a last minute trick out of his sleeve and disappear. They'd worked too hard to bring him down to let him escape now.

"It's not over until I'm dead," Naraku replied.

"We're working on that part," Inuyasha called. "Just sit still."

Naraku looked up at him and considered. "Only if it's you."

"What?" Inuyasha stared at him. His ears stood at attention as though he’d heard wrong.

"I'll sit still and let you kill me, but only you kill me. If it's anybody else, I'll go down fighting and take as many of you with me as I can."

"We're not playing your games anymore Naraku," Sesshomaru snapped.

Naraku smiled. "No games. If I'm to die here, shouldn't I leave by way of my choosing?"

Sesshomaru snorted. "You've done nothing to earn such a privilege."

"Think of your allies Sesshomaru. How many more must die before you're satisfied?" Naraku taunted.

"This isn't about my satisfaction! This is about getting rid of you once and for all. We're not going to play your games anymore," Sesshomaru stepped forward.

Naraku straightened up. Some wooden tentacles sprouted sluggishly from the ground beneath him.

"Sesshomaru, stop," Inuyasha said.

Sesshomaru paused. "You're not thinking of doing what he asks, are you?"

Inuyasha stayed silent. Below, Naraku smiled.

"Inuyasha! He kidnapped our son! He nearly killed you many times over. You can't show him any mercy."

"It's not mercy," Inuyasha said as he jumped to the ground before Naraku.

"Then what is it?" Sesshomaru growled, frustrated with Inuyasha's decision.

"It's how it has to end," Inuyasha said, raising his sword.

"Inuyasha," Naraku said, walking towards him. "How do you know this isn't another trap?"

Inuyasha shook his head. "Because it's over. You lost."

Naraku chuckled. "You are so naïve. I want to drag you down to hell with me," he said, reaching out to touch Inuyasha's hair.

Sesshomaru’s growl filled the air, but Inuyasha avoided his touch.

"But you can't,” Inuyasha said. “You can barely stand. There's no way you can take me with you. There's no way I would go."

"The innocence in you is so refreshing," Naraku said, smiling. "I wish I could drink from your lips."

Inuyasha snorted. "I'd kill you."

"So you've said. But since I'm destined to die..." Naraku moved forward so quickly, Inuyasha didn't have time to react. Naraku's lips crashed into his. "You should have been mine Inuyasha," he hissed, staring into the half-demon's eyes. "My beautiful Inuyasha."

Inuyasha snapped out of his shock. His eyes narrowed as he thrust his claws into Naraku's chest.

Naraku coughed. "My heart," he said as blood dribbled from his lip. "You need to destroy my human heart."

Inuyasha looked at him in surprise and a smile crossed Naraku's face.

"Do it."

Inuyasha pushed his hand into his chest, digging out Naraku's heart. He pulled out the heart and Naraku dropped to his knees.

Naraku stared up at Inuyasha holding his black heart in his hand. This felt right. Inuyasha looked down at him again and Naraku's smile grew. There was a confused light in Inuyasha's golden eyes. Naraku knew that he had made a mark on Inuyasha's heart. The half-demon would always remember this day and that was enough for him. Though it wasn't the way he desired, he would still be in Inuyasha's heart forever. Even on the verge of death, he felt victorious as Inuyasha's fist closed around his heart.

Inuyasha stood with the crushed heart in his hand, looking down at the crumpled form of Naraku. Finally, it was over. The cycle of pain that the evil half-demon had set in motion over fifty years ago had finally come to an end. Naraku was dead. Now, he was rotting in hell where he belonged. Inuyasha dropped the crushed heart and kicked the corpse before him. "Stupid bastard," he muttered. He hissed as his arm started to throb with pain.

"You are so reckless."

Inuyasha turned and watched his brother walk up to him in human form.

Sesshomaru took Inuyasha's arm and sighed. "You know he is dangerous and can't be trusted. You know he is poison. Still, you dash forward and put yourself in harm's way."

Inuyasha looked away guiltily. "I just wanted to end it."

Sesshomaru nodded. "I understand, but it could have been another trap. He could have killed you as well. You were lucky."

"Sorry." Inuyasha winced as the poisonous blood on his arm reminded him of its presence.

"Come, we need to clean the blood away."

"Wait, the jewel shards." Inuyasha tugged his arm from his brother's grasp.

"Do not touch that filthy corpse. I will retrieve them." He stepped over Naraku's fallen form and suppressed the urge to further disfigure his body. He retrieved the large chunk of the shard that Naraku carried and frowned. He did not want to leave Naraku's body lying here, nor did he want to give it a burial. He turned to the remaining allies and paused as he spotted a fire demon. He called out to her.

"Yes, Lord Sesshomaru?" She asked as she limped over.

"I would like to burn the corpse. I do not feel that this mission is complete as it is. We will use your fire to purify what remains of Naraku," Sesshomaru said.

"Yes, Lord Sesshomaru." She bowed to him and stepped towards the corpse. With a hand held out, she sent a stream of fire towards Naraku's body. It quickly caught fire and burned with a bright blue intensity that made even the fire demon step back.

Only when a pile of smoldering ash remained did Sesshomaru feel satisfied. He turned to his mate. Inuyasha was watching the pile of ash as well, though he turned when he felt Sesshomaru's eyes on him. "Come," Sesshomaru said, holding out his hand. "You need to be cleansed of his blood before it does any more damage."

Inuyasha nodded as he walked to his brother and took the offered hand.

Sesshomaru lead him to a small pond in the shattered remains of the courtyard. There, he washed the poisonous black blood from his mate. The damage wasn't as bad as he'd anticipated. It seemed the blood he'd given his brother before had helped to protect him. He looked down as Inuyasha touched the gash on his chest.

"Do not worry about that. It has already begun to heal," Sesshomaru said, brushing off his own injury. In the heat of battle, he'd hardly felt it and it would soon fade.

Inuyasha nodded. "I just hate that he hurt you."

"Not nearly as much as he's hurt you," Sesshomaru said, wrapping his arms around his mate. "But now he is gone and you can live your life free of his games."

Inuyasha closed his eyes and nodded again.

Sesshomaru leaned down to claim his lips. He gave him a gentle kiss as he carded his fingers through his mate's hair.

Inuyasha relaxed in his arms. When he finally opened his eyes, he smiled. "Let's go home," he said.

Sesshomaru nodded and together they left the cursed castle behind.