Title: Kazoku (Family)

Author: Agni

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.

Summary: New discoveries change everything. Inuyasha finds a family and with a family comes new responsibilities. Then there is Sesshoumaru…

Warnings: Yaoi. Sesshoumaru/Inuyasha. OOC, OCs. AU.


Eleven months.

That was precisely how long Inuyasha had been out of his sensing range. He had seen Tessaiga pulse for one last time before the sword became dormant, as lifeless as any other rusty sword.

His brother was even out Tessaiga's reach.

The only thing that assured him that his brother was alive was the nascent bond between them. Still, the very absence of Inuyasha in his powerful senses was unsettling.

Sesshoumaru had never allowed himself to lose sight of Inuyasha. Ever since the pup had taken his first breath, Sesshoumaru's protective instincts had kept a constant watch on the brat. His brother was adept at hiding and concealing his presence from everyone. His circumstances forced him to develop that necessary skill. However, he had never been able to remove himself completely from Sesshoumaru's watch.

The Daiyoukai always knew where his brother was.

There was only one place where Inuyasha could be so well concealed.

"But that's impossible…" he mused, "Inuyasha has never shown any signs of being in contact with her."

Yet, her wrath had been obvious in the harsh winter that his lands suffered after Inuyasha disappeared. An inescapable cold had settled over his territory was a warning and Sesshoumaru was well aware of it.

Even his own mother had instantly understood and leveled him with that disturbing stare that spoke of disappointment, anger and amusement at the same time. She always seemed amused by his mistakes, for some reason, delighting every time he faltered.

"Everything amuses her." He thought, "I shan't trouble myself by pondering over her motives."

Perched on the high branches of the Goshinboku, he closed his eyes to breathe in the lingering scent of his bothersome little sibling. Even after so many months of Inuyasha's absence, his scent was still potent on the Sacred Tree.

It had become his solace when his longing for Inuyasha became too keen.

Even Sesshoumaru suffered from the call of impatience. The lack of knowledge was disturbing his peace of mind and he wouldn't tolerate it.

As a Daiyoukai and a powerful demon, he was used to having his way. He would not permit Inuyasha to hide from him any longer.

"Wallowing in regret, Sesshoumaru-sama?"

An icy glare sliced into the source of the voice.

"Totosai." He greeted. "You grow bold in the absence of your favored master." He narrowed his and he stepped down from his perch gracefully. "Inuyasha is not here to protect you."

The sword smith nodded, "We are both unfortunate then." He said slyly, "The one who always protect and watches out for me is absent." He looked at Sesshoumaru with his beady eyes, "And the one who is always willing to forgive your gravest errors is absent as well."

Sesshoumaru said nothing to that.

"It is true what they say," Totosai mused, "You realize the true worth of someone only after they have left your side."

"You speak nonsense." The Daiyoukai spoke, his voice like ice. "Did you seek my presence to awaken guilt in me, Totosai? Do you think I am a child to be manipulated as you do so often with Inuyasha?"

Totosai took a deep draw from his smoking pipe, gazing at the clear morning sky. "Everyone is a child to these old eyes, Sesshoumaru-sama." He commented, "But I admit that even these old eyes of mine tend to make mistakes."

The Daiyoukai raised a brow, curious.

"I had long thought of you as the wisest of Inu-Taishou's children." The sword smith admitted, "I often encouraged your little brother to follow your example. Your skills, your ability to gauge your opponents and analyze a battle; these skills were something that would've benefitted Inuyasha-sama greatly."

Sesshoumaru glanced at him, "I assume that you no longer feel so?"

Totosai shrugged, "I'd still like for him to learn some of your battle skills." He observed at Daiyoukai out of the corner of his eye as he continued to speak. "But I didn't expect him to follow your example so completely."

Sesshoumaru's sharp eyes pinned the sword smith with a formidable glare. "Speak plainly. I tire of your riddles."

Totosai chuckled, "Very well." He took a deep breath, anticipating Sesshoumaru's reaction. "You, my lord, have achieved many a great feats." He admitted, "And now, you have achieved another great and uncommon deed." He smirked, "You have the dubious honor of being amongst those rare demons that have managed to drive their mates to Submersion."

As soon as the words left Totosai's mouth, a sudden stillness descended upon them. It was as though nature itself had fallen silent. Not a single bird chirped nor did a stray breeze jostle the leaves.

The strange vacuum retreated as Sesshoumaru's youki exploded outward, seething and devastating. Totosai had to curl into himself to withstand the sheer pressure. The tress surrounding them were pushed back, some of them were even uprooted by the force.

The Daiyoukai was unaware of these things. His powerful mind was focused on finding that small, tenuous spiritual bond that connected him to his little brother.

The small link was still there, undamaged as ever. However, there was nothing reassuring about that. It could very well be a mere echo of their former bond. Inuyasha was completely out of his reach, after all. There was no way for him to confirm if the bond continued to exist unless Inuyasha was out of his mother's territory and in the West.

"You jest." He growled, glaring at Totosai with deadly crimson eyes, "Inuyasha wouldn't be so foolish."

"No." Totosai agreed, "Usually, Inuyasha-sama has much more sense than that." He returned Sesshoumaru's heavy gaze unflinchingly, "As I said, he has, unfortunately, chosen to follow your example."

"He cannot submerge himself." Sesshoumaru denied vehemently, "He is a child. A mere weakling hanyou."

"If you despise him so, you have no cause for repine." The sword smith stated bluntly. "Unless, you mean to punish him…" He mused, "For a child's simple mistake."

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes in fury, "He betrayed me. He sought to discard our father's legacy as if it was nothing! He sought to dishonor our clan!"

Totosai stood straight and stared at Sesshoumaru in the eye, "He betrayed you?" he asked, almost incredulous, "Forgive me, Sesshoumaru-sama, but your arrogance does you great disservice. If anything, Inuyasha-sama was justified in his actions!"

Sesshoumaru very nearly snarled at that.

"Oh, do not glare at me so!" Totosai snapped, "You expect Inuyasha-sama to welcome the prospect of being your mate? You, who has abused him so abominably in the past? His own brother, who made no effort to hide his hatred and disgust? Did you expect him to rejoice in a mate who clearly despised him?"

The Daiyoukai stilled.

"If anything, you betrayed him first. Inu-Taishou left Inuyasha-sama in your care and what a spectacle you have made of it! What is Inuyasha to do? Was he to accept his fate of misery silently? While you gloried in the satisfaction of having broken him? He is the son of Inu-Taishou! He would never submit to such a thing and you know it. Your father's blood in just as potent in him as it is in yours, Sesshoumaru-sama."

He narrowed his eyes at the Daiyoukai, "You wished for him to suffer for that single offence. A naïve, terrified little boy ran from you and you wish to punish him for that. You tried to banish him because you knew that he would have to come back. You would even let him marry that miko because you know that Inuyasha-sama can't possibly love her. You know that she'll eventually die and Inuyasha-sama will be alone once again. You want him to suffer through that pain. You left him alone, without a pack, without ancestral ties, without a weapon… what did you expect him to do? Slowly descend into madness until he was forced to come to you on his knees?"

"The hanyou-"

"Precisely. Hanyou. " Totosai interrupted, "Or did her wrath this winter failed to convince you? He is a hanyou… Part God and part Demon. Did you forget that, Sesshoumaru-sama? Even you cannot claim such a noble lineage. Stop deluding yourself. You misdirected your anger and pushed Inuyasha-sama away. Did you expect him to forgive all those cutting words that you tormented him with when he was a child? Did you expect him to forgive the numerous times you allowed him to starve when you had it in your power to protect him? He may not have been your mate but he was your brother. You forced the Prince of West to scavenge like a common beggar and you expect him to forgive you? Your arr-" Suddenly, he let out a choked sound.

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes at the demon dangling from his grip. His deceptively slender fingers squeezed the fragile neck in his grasp. "I will not have a servant speak to me thus." He whispered, his eyes glowing with anger, "You forget your place, Totosai. I am not as merciful as Inuyasha."

"Ind- indeed not." He choked, "Which is why *cough* you- you'll have your p- precious little brother's d-death on your conscience should he fail at sub- sub-mersion." He stated with some difficultly.

Sesshoumaru dropped him instantly, the red suddenly receding from his eyes. He hadn't considered that.

Losing the bond with Inuyasha would be painful… but losing Inuyasha himself?

That would devastate him.

"He wouldn't be so foolish." Sesshoumaru whispered, almost to himself. "Inuyasha can't do this. Surely the Goddess would forbid him."

Totosai steadied him, taking deep breaths and trying to gather his courage. He needed to get through Sesshoumaru's thick skull before Inuyasha returned. There was still a chance that Inuyasha didn't go through with the Submersion.

He had been discretely observing the Daiyoukai was the past few months. It was obvious that he was missing Inuyasha's presence desperately; cycling between anger and regret while he searched high and low for his brother.

"To be frank, I am amazed that this did not happen sooner." Totosai commented as he summoned his strange three-eyed ox, "And to think that his affection for you endured for so long, with so little encouragement…" He mounted his ox and looked down at Sesshoumaru, "Really, your father was too generous when he gifted Inuyasha to you."

Before Sesshoumaru could even fathom a reply, Totosai left.

'Gifted… to me…?' He asked himself, leaning against the Goshinboku with uncharacteristic uncertainty. It was an odd choice of words but it somehow fit.

It fit almost too well.

He closed his eyes, recalling those memories before Inuyasha. He recalled his father's desperation to sire another child, despite having two sons. He recalled how Izayoi had been chosen by his mother to bear the child. The human princess had agreed after a great effort by both his parents and even then, carrying Inuyasha to term had almost killed her.

He remembered that day. He remembered those words.

'This child is precious, not only because it is my child but because it will be your sibling.' His father had said, 'It is yours to cherish, yours to love and nurture, Sesshoumaru. ' Such deep certainty lined his father's voice when he said that.

Suddenly, something dawned on him.

His father had known.

It was almost impossible to comprehend, but somehow, his father had known that death was approaching.

Was Inuyasha truly a gift from his father?

Naraku didn't waste time; Kagome mused as she dodged another one of the monster's attacks. It was almost as though the vile hanyou had placed sentinels by the Well.

He attacked on the very day she returned, his face lined with feral anger.

She had forgotten how it was. The rush of fear, the constant danger, the uncertainty of whether they'd be able to foil Naraku's plans…

Naraku was furious.

His aura radiated absolute, choking and overwhelming fury.

It amused her. It had been nearly eleven months since Inuyasha left and they went into hiding.

They had left Naraku hanging.

Kagome stifled a highly inappropriate giggle. After all, they were fighting a powerful, angry half-demon without their pack-leader and his magnificent sword.

However much she tried, Kagome couldn't control her amusement over the irony of the situation. Even Sango, Miroku and Kouga seemed amused, exchanging smirks despite the situation.

Really, who knew that Naraku would be so lost without them?

"Sango, watch out!" Kagome called out, letting her arrow fly towards Naraku with newly acquired precision. She had taken Inuyasha's advice and trained as much as she could during his absence.

Sango dodged expertly, frowning at Naraku. "He's being careless." She observed.

Kouga grinned, "Get them pissed off enough and they all act the same." He stated before turning to look at their enemy. "What's wrong, Naraku? Did ya miss us?"

"Where is Inuyasha?" Naraku asked, somehow managing to quell his anger. "Did he finally abandon you? Did he give up after Kikyou died, realizing that all he was fighting for was for naught?"

They stilled at the mention of Kikyou, unwilling to listen to her name spilling from his vile mouth. Kikyou deserved better than to be used as an excuse to rile them up.

"You have no business talking about her!" Kagome hissed, keeping her eyes on him. "You like to torment him, don't you? You like to play with him, you always have."

Naraku stilled, narrowing his eyes at her.

"But you're the furthest thing from his mind, Naraku. You are insignificant to him. You're a hurdle that he needs to pass and nothing else. You'll never be more than that. You'll never be his worst enemy or his constant tormentor. You're nothing to him!" She informed him, watching with satisfaction as the vile hanyou's expression darkened.

"But you mean something to him." Naraku whispered insidiously, "And if I crush you, I know he'll suffer… and he'll blame himself." With that said, innumerable black, shadowy appendages shot towards Kagome to kill.

"Shit, Kagome." Kouga cursed as they flew towards her, their weapons ready.

She had gotten used to the easy-going life she had in the modern world and had almost forgotten what it was like in this strange world.

"Kagome, hurry!"

Kagome jumped when Kouga latched onto her arm and dragged her out of harm's way. She was a little clumsy but quickly adjusted.

It was all coming back to her once again.

"Feeling a little lost, are we? Na-ra-ku-chaaan?" Kagome taunted boldly much to the astonishment of her friends.

Kouga chuckled behind her, "Have you gotten cheeky staying away from us for all these months, Kagome-chan?" he asked with a smirk while Miroku and Sango shook their heads.

"Kagome-sama, I advise you to not tickle the dragon." Miroku whispered urgently though his lips were twitching at her new confidence and mischievousness.

Inuyasha would certainly be surprised.

Kagome simply grinned; her eyes glittering dangerously as she mounted the arrow on her bow and let it fly. "I'm just excited to be back."

"Right! Show him, Kagome!" Shippou encouraged with a big grin, safely away from the battle with Kirara. Everyone was excited to be back together and anxious for Inuyasha to return.

Heck, Kagome had missed this world so much that even Naraku was a mildly welcome sight.

"We could really use Inuyasha's sheer destructive power now." Kouga murmured to her softly, "Even without Tessaiga, he can do a lot of damage."

Kagome nodded in agreement. They were in trouble despite the fact that Kagome was joking about. Naraku had somehow gotten Kohaku's jewel shard but Kikyou, being the kind of woman she was, let her light stay in Kohaku so that he could live on.

She was one special woman. No wonder Inuyasha had loved her.

It was so refreshing that she could admit that without feeling even the slightest pang of jealousy.

A small explosion beside her snapped her out her thoughts and she frowned, growing increasingly worried.

"Damn it, he's really pissed." Kouga muttered; feeling a little lost without his Jewel Shards. Kagome nodded in whole-hearted agreement.

Another pair of tentacles shot towards them and Kouga cursed but before they could react, someone grabbed them and tossed them out of the way.

The sheer strength required to do that told them everything.

Kagome spun around, a smile already on her lips. The smell was familiar, the presence was familiar and even the touch of his hand on her arm was familiar.


Kouga stepped behind Kagome to protect her from Naraku's attacks while she hugged the life out of her well-missed friend. She didn't even seem aware of the battle now. Her whole being was focused on looking at Inuyasha, trying to gauge if he was well.

"Kagome." Inuyasha greeted with a chuckle.

Even Naraku paused for a moment at that strangely unfamiliar voice.

It was deep, almost baritone-ish and so utterly surprising that even Kagome had to take a double take.

It was only then that they finally realized that Inuyasha had changed.

It wasn't something that was apparent at first glance but there was no time to contemplate it. Naraku didn't stop. The sight of Inuyasha only served to increase his rage.

"Where is the last shard!" he roared.

Inuyasha sent him a very uncharacteristic dismissive glance. He had missed his friends too much to pay attention to the fiend. However, he wasn't careless, his senses were trained on Naraku as he greeted his friend.

Nevertheless, Inuyasha's reaction was so hilarious and they couldn't help it.

Kagome burst into a fit of ebullient giggles that seemed unstoppable. Kouga was already letting out loud guffaws while Sango daintily covered her mouth to stop her laughter. The situation was like a bizarre reunion from the twilight zone.

Only Inuyasha and Miroku seemed to be rather lost at the abrupt nature of their amusement.

Naraku, the bastard that he was, had to interrupt.

Inuyasha quickly shot forward, protecting his friends with the sure strength that they had begun to miss. The Inu-hanyou was a mere blur of sharp claws and iridescent hair. His great speed caught Naraku completely unawares, forcing the vile hanyou to scramble back.

Within minutes, the large appendages that Naraku used so skillfully where reduced to bits.

The villain narrowed his eyes in fury, watching from the safety of his barrier. Inuyasha's mysterious increase in power and skills startled him enough to rethink his approach. He had always been very aware of his enemy's strengths and weaknesses. He always sent his minions on ahead to test his opponents before involving himself in a fight.

Inuyasha had tried, constantly adding new skills to Tessaiga to overwhelm him.

This was different. The difference in skill was too much for Naraku to cope easily.

He was forced to retreat.

"You can't hide the shard from me for long, Inuyasha." He warned, furious that he had been forced to retreat so early in the game.

Inuyasha dearly wanted to trap Naraku, to not allow him to retreat but he knew that it wouldn't be wise. His mother's tutelage had taught him many things…

Patience was amongst them.

He kept his eyes open and his senses alert but he could feel Naraku's presence fade away as the fiend retreated. The bastard had managed to grow stronger once again; his very aura reeked of heinous power.

After nearly a year of being in the presence of one of the purest beings in existence, Naraku's corruption was almost too much to bear.

The lingering miasma caused him to pale slightly, the need to be out of the corrupted environment keen. He had changed as well, after all. His mother had released that seal that she had placed on him before his birth. The powers that he inherited from the Goddess and Sesshoumaru's mother were no longer out of his reach.

He was much more sensitive to his surroundings.

This new vulnerability didn't sit well with him. He had trained so rigorously for a reason. If he couldn't stand Naraku's aura, he'd be doomed.

With a slight sigh, he turned to his friends. His sharp eyes took everything about them, noting that Shippou had grown a little in height and had a leaner look about him. Obviously, the months he spent with his father's warrior Ranmaru benefitted him. The look of mischief and the characteristic laziness that he had come to associate with Shippou was still there, unfortunately.

Ranmaru must be losing his touch.

Kagome seemed a bit different as well. Her arms had gained a bit of definition, obviously the result of constant archery practice. She was a bit fuller as well, some womanly curves just beginning to form on her youthful figure.

Miroku and Sango seemed the same though there was an air about them that spoke of intimacy. They were very close to marriage, Inuyasha could tell.

Kouga, the irritating bastard, hadn't changed a jot. The same smug smirk and arrogant sparkling in the eyes greeted him as he looked at the damned wolf. The ten months he spent away from the bastard had not made his heart grow fonder of him.

"You guys haven't changed much." He admitted, accepting Kagome and Sango's hugs and Miroku's fond pat on his shoulder. He caught Shippou with ease as the fox leapt at him, his green eyes full of joy.

A chuckle escaped his lips as he handed the Kitsune back to Kagome and took a step back. He had, unfortunately, regained his distaste for physical contact during the months he had spent with his mother.

"So Inuko, how's everything?" Kouga asked casually but there was a deeper meaning to his words.

Inuyasha shrugged, meeting the wolf's icy blue eyes without hesitation. "As well as one can expect." He answered vaguely. He wasn't ready to reveal exactly what had happened in the past months. "It has certainly he-" he paused, his eyes widening as a ball of white energy shot at him.

Inuyasha's first reaction had been to dodge and he certainly would have been able to do it but the energy was familiar.

The presence was familiar.

He barely twitched at his friends' alarmed looks, willingly allowing the energy to surround him, sink into his body and carry him away. With a single, reassuring look, he stopped Kagome and the others from following him.

The speed at which they travelled made him slightly ill but he didn't complain. There was enough anger in the presence for him to keep his mouth shut for the moment.

Suddenly, he was let go and he flailed, the abrupt falling sensation catching him off-guard.

He slammed painfully against the ground, the stones on the earth stabbing his back. He barely had time to catch his breath before a heavy body rammed into him, a knee digging sharply into his stomach.

"Aniue!" He gasped, the pain finally awakening his own ire. "Stop this foolishness!"

Cold amber eyes pinned him, the accusation in that gaze making him cringe. Slender fingers curled around his neck, the grip tightening dangerously as the Daiyoukai on top of him leaned forward, his expression uncharacteristically open.

There was no mistaking the rage on his elder brother's countenance.

"How dare you." Sesshoumaru hissed sharply, his fingers tightening on Inuyasha's neck just enough for the younger Inu-youkai to start struggling for breath. Inuyasha was no longer a weakling but Sesshoumaru, with his fully-grown strength and experience, was able to maintain his suffocating hold.

"You left me with no choice!" Inuyasha rasped out, clawing at Sesshoumaru's wrist. "Release me!" The Daiyoukai's hold only tightened and Inuyasha panicked a bit, seeing spots as he struggled to breathe. "Do you want to kill your mate?"

Sesshoumaru stilled, the long, deceptively delicate fingers instantly loosening their hold.

The younger Inu-youkai took a deep, relieved breath and glared at Sesshoumaru.

"You know."

Inuyasha scoffed. "Of course, I know! I have always known." He covered his eyes under the pretense of trying to regain his equilibrium. In reality, he wanted to conceal his flushed face.

After ten months of being in continuous contact with his youki and refining his instincts, he was very sensitive to his mate's presence and touch. Sesshoumaru's body was pinning him to the ground and now that the Daiyoukai wasn't suffocating him, the pleasant weight was distracting.

Sesshoumaru was silent but after a while, he removed Inuyasha's hand, pinning both his arms to the ground above his head.

"And yet you ran from me." He said, the anger turning his voice to steel.

"Of course, I did." Inuyasha replied, meeting his brother's gaze. "You weren't exactly warm and cuddly, you know. I was young, experiencing my first…" he scowled. "My first mating instincts. I had nightmares for months. I couldn't think of a single scenario where I could be your mate and be happy."

Sesshoumaru snarled. "I will not insult me, half-breed."

"What did you expect me to do, Sesshoumaru?" Inuyasha asked seriously. "You had made it abundantly clear that you despised me. I hardly knew anything about demon customs then, largely your fault," he pointed out absently. "I didn't know how you'd treat your mate."

Inuyasha closed his eyes and sighed. "I admit that some of it was my fault. I should've been wiser. I shouldn't have run to Kikyou. I shouldn't have promised to turn human and consume the Shikon no tama… I've made mistakes." He shook his head. "When the first rumors of the Shikon no Tama came to me, I was certain that I could use it to turn into a demon. Why do you think I wanted to do that?" he met Sesshoumaru's gaze squarely. "I had no particular reason to hate my hanyou self… no, it was you that forced me in that direction. I wanted to win your esteem and respect. I wanted to be your brother, your pack. I found myself lacking because you found me lacking."

"I am not to blame for your foolishness." The older brother said icily. "Your hatred for me was just as potent as my hatred for you."

Inuyasha concealed a cringe. "Now see, that's where you're wrong." He whispered, suppressing his pain. "I certainly hated your actions towards me but for some reason, likely because of my damned human heart, I couldn't bring myself to hate you. That day… when you came to me, again to make an attempt on my life, the sudden surge of those instincts caught me off guard." He turned his head away. "You may not have noticed but I certainly did. I looked at you with a slight feeling of hope but you gazed back at me with the same expression of disgust. I knew then, if you ever accepted me as your mate, it would be with bitterness and reluctance. I took the only route I thought I had. As a human, I'd be able to kill those painful instincts." He shrugged, "What else could I have done?"

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes. "You should have bared your neck and submitted to me."

Now it was Inuyasha's turn to snarl. The spiritual energy that he inherited from the Goddess rushed to the surface, scalding Sesshoumaru's fingers. "If we're to be mates, Sesshoumaru, we shall be equal!" he growled. "I still have the power to sever this bond and I have no compunctions against holding that over you. One move in the wrong direction from you and I will snap this thin, fragile thread that ties us and leave you to rot!"

The Daiyoukai froze.

Inuyasha easily shook of Sesshoumaru's grip from his hands and sat up. He was almost nose-to-nose with his elder brother. "I told you that I love you." He said softly but there was a stern undertone to his words. "Much to my own detriment, I forgive everything you do to me. I forgave all those physical wounds you inflicted on me from the moment I was old enough to defend myself. I forgave your scathing, insidious words that battered my self-esteem. I even forgave you when you almost killed me." He narrowed his eyes, his fingers fisting in Sesshoumaru's silken hair. "Mother made me realize that I was wrong in forgiving you. I shouldn't have indulged your pride. I may be the younger mate but it is my duty to keep you from harming yourself."

"You've grown arrogant."

Inuyasha scoffed. "Pot calling the kettle black. Your pride, your wounded feelings, your stubborn arrogance kept this wall between us." He poked Sesshoumaru in the chest. "I love you." He said again. "Can you freely admit the same?" he asked challengingly. "Can you say, without hesitation, that I'm precious to you? That you missed me when I was gone and that your body craves my presence just as much as your mind longs for it. Can you admit that I am the center to your universe and without me, you feel restless and hollow? Can you admit it, nii-san?"

Sesshoumaru had no words to say.

A triumphant light entered bold golden eyes. "You are precious to me. I missed you. My body and mind, my very soul craves for you. You have always been the center of my universe. I cannot abide your absence for too long. I. Love. You. I treasure you, I adore you. I have worshipped you all my life even if you only give me pain in return." Inuyasha kept his gaze locked with Sesshoumaru's. "There. I have lain myself bear to you. I haven't run from these instincts, these feelings. I could say more and that wouldn't matter because, nii-san, your pride will forbid you from understanding the value of my confession. You'll scoff at it… indeed, even now, I see the derision in your eyes, the disgust that I have opened myself so crudely to you."


"No." Inuyasha stopped him. "You don't get to speak." He said furiously. "There are only so many times I can forgive you before I lose my dignity and become some pathetic, submissive bitch." He swallowed the lump in his throat. "I confessed my feelings to you against every instinct in me. I made myself vulnerable to you, even more so than I was before because I know you. Now you have all the facts. Now you know how much I esteem you. Now you know that I'd still sever this bond, regardless of the pain it would cause me if you don't fucking wise up!"

He pushed Sesshoumaru off his and stood, keeping his gaze steady on the Daiyoukai. "As much as I respect you, aniue, I cannot allow you to break me. I cannot allow you to destroy what I am just because your tender, fragile pride is offended. If we mate, we mate as equals. If we mate, we mate when you can confess with equal honestly and decisiveness those same feelings that I just avowed."

He spun on his heal, ready to depart. He hadn't expected to meet Sesshoumaru so soon and all his resolve, all of his mother's teachings, everything now seemed useless and weak. The look in his brother's eyes hadn't change.

He still looked at Inuyasha in disgust.

"You're mistaken if you think you can just walk away after speaking to me thus." Sesshoumaru whispered icily.

Inuyasha stopped walking but he didn't even get the chance to turn around before Sesshoumaru was suddenly behind him. He stiffened, ready to fight as two powerful arms wrapped around him in a vice-like, inescapable embrace.

"Those silly, human emotions have no place in a demon soul bond." Sesshoumaru hissed in Inuyasha's ear, his elongated fangs dangerously close to the hanyou's expose neck. "The love you speak of is a frail, fickle emotion that can easily jump from one person to another. This love that you seem to value so much, you give with reckless disregard. You offered it to that woman Kikyou… you offer it freely to her reincarnation… you willing distribute it amongst you friends."

The younger Inu-youkai stilled, narrowing his eyes in confusion. "Wha-?"

"Love is too weak, too easily spent to describe our relationship, little brother." He whispered and unexpectedly, Inuyasha shivered, his face growing rosy once again. "Your love means nothing to me. You are all too willing to give it up."

Inuyasha opened his mouth to protest but could only gasp helplessly as Sesshoumaru's lips brushed his cheek.

It was the very first intimate gesture shared between the two.

"You want honesty from me, do you?" he asked mockingly. "The truth is not always a noble, easily palatable concept, little Inuyasha but truth you shall receive." Long fingers cupped his chin, tilting his head to the side to he could meet Sesshoumaru's intense gaze. "You're mistaken, little hanyou, if you think you have even that little freedom to refuse me. The only reason I have not mated you yet is that I wanted you to come to me willingly, when you were ready. Every step you take as an unmated youngling is by my grace. I have slaughtered youkai by the dozen for even daring to contemplate the thought of mating you. I have done so ever since your body started maturing."

Inuyasha paled.

"Your little wolf breathes to this day only because you are fond of him. Those two priestesses survive only because I refuse to kill helpless women." He narrowed his eyes. "Even then, it was a very close thing, Inuyasha."

"You're lying." He whispered, unable to believe it.

Sesshoumaru smiled slowly against Inuyasha's sensitive skin and the young hanyou's eyes widened in alarm.

His brother's smile never boded well.

"You ask if I treasure you." The Daiyoukai said lazily. "Of course, I do. You are mine. You've always been mine. I have abused you abominably but I have never denied the relationship that stands between us." He chuckled and Inuyasha closed his eyes, his nails digging into Sesshoumaru's arm. "Did you not notice, my oblivious little brother, that I always sought you out. You were content to avoid seeing my face but I deliberately crossed your path every time we encountered each other. Didn't you find it a little strange that we met so often? I am a Daiyoukai, after all. I have duties that do not include stalking a little hanyou."

Inuyasha swallowed, "Why… why then?"

"Until the day I realized that you were my mate, you verily taxed my patience." Sesshoumaru said bluntly. "Every instinct in me forbade me from coming close to you… to be your brother. Yet, I was duty bound to keep you safe and protected. I won't justify my actions. As you confessed, I have made mistakes as well. But, I took measures, Inuyasha, to thicken your skin. All that abuse you suffered from me made you immune to those who could do you more harm. All those fights between us thought you everything you know of fighting and survival. I was cruel to you, I was ruthless and took special pleasure in beating you down, those things I will not deny." He fingers slipped into his little brother's silken hair. "But I was never indifferent to you."

"Does that excuse the pain you caused me, Sesshoumaru?" Inuyasha asked finally. "You say you took special pleasure in beating me down… how am I supposed to feel about that? Happy?" he asked sarcastically. "Am I supposed to be pleased that you deliberately sought me out to appease you sadistic impulses?"

"No." He answered calmly. "But really, lovely one, you are deliberately trying to hold on to old wounds. Your childhood was actually no different to mine. I treated you with similar aloof disregard that our parents directed at me. I had food and shelter while you lacked those but other than that… nothing." He shrugged. "Your human upbringing made you very sensitive. You thought of yourself as inferior, deep within yourself, you thought of yourself as unworthy. Eventually, that would've made you weak and vulnerable."

Inuyasha bit his lip harshly, his mind going to those vague childhood memories. He knew, of course, those words were much worse, much more damaging than anything Sesshoumaru had ever said.

"These are all excuses." He whispered finally. "Get to the point, Sesshoumaru."

The Daiyoukai's arms tightened. "What point, little brother?" He asked. "My purpose for distracting you has already been served."

Inuyasha's eyes widened when he felt it, the slow, deliberate heat sinking into his skin. He paled, his claws digging into Sesshoumaru's arm in alarm. "You bastard."

The Daiyoukai scoffed before ruthlessly grabbing Inuyasha's hair and tilting his head back. "You think you can give me an ultimatum like that and get away with it, my precious one?" he asked, brushing his lips against Inuyasha's vulnerable throat as his youki flared outward, enveloping both of them. "You dare threaten me? I'll have you on your knees in front of me for even thinking such things." The hanyou hissed as his brother's power blanketed him, marking him and invading his body without restraint.

He couldn't deny Sesshoumaru now. It was too late.

Sesshoumaru had already started the Mating Ritual.

"I won't submit." Inuyasha snarled, his own powers flaring in response. His body couldn't fight this, his soul would welcome it but he would make the bastard pay for taking the choice away from him.

"You won't." Sesshoumaru agreed, "And I do not require you to. My patience and leniency has reached its end. I will no longer wait for you to be ready; I care even less for your willingness." His grip tightened and Inuyasha winced. "After all, you love me." He mocked. "I shall show you, my precious one," he whispered, spotting the tears that clouded his little brother's eyes, "I shall show you just why that weak, pathetic emotion of love can stand no ground against my feelings for you. You will see. You think I don't treasure you, that I don't consider you precious to me, that I hold no affection and respect for you… you think that I wish for a docile, obedient mate." Inuyasha gasped as the power increased, the burn of it rendering him unable to speak. "I have, for all these years, protected you from a demon's feelings for his mate, Inuyasha. I never considered you ready for it. Now, I shall show you."

They fell to the knees, Sesshoumaru easily pulling his trembling brother onto his lap.

"I have never touched you unless it was in a fight." Sesshoumaru whispered. "Now, I will touch you, Inuyasha, and when I'm finished, you never doubt me." He promised. "I allowed you to roam freely, I restrained every instinct that told me otherwise but now, you will see the extent of my protectiveness… my possessiveness towards you. I allowed you to share your heart freely with others, to share this love of yours with those unworthy ningen but now…" his fangs brushed against Inuyasha's throat and he shivered, closing his eyes. "Now, you wouldn't dare to spare a single sliver of affection towards anyone."

Inuyasha cried out, his power merging with his brother's painfully as two, razor sharp canines sank into his neck.

As his world went white, a single sentence echoed in his mind in a familiar, icy voice.

'You shall never again deny me, my precious mate.'


The word whispered across the Daiyoukai's mind as he looked down at his unconscious brother. The hanyou's words and actions screamed of innocence and ignorance. Threatening him had been the worst thing Inuyasha could have ever done, especially after disappearing for nearly a year.

Amber eyes narrowed as his thumb brushed against Inuyasha's plump lower lip. He still remembered the kiss that the wretched miko stole from him mate. Hadn't he punished Inuyasha severely for that? For daring to allow anyone to touch him so intimately?

His eyes travelled to the hanyou's neck, the bruise on the pale skin had already faded and only two pinpricks like marks left behind by his fangs remained.

The first step was now complete. What little mercy he had left, he used it to stop himself from taking Inuyasha forcefully. It was against his pride, against his very nature, to force his mate to submit. He could have, but wouldn't violate his little brother in such a manner.

But Inuyasha needed to be taught a lesson. He was mistaken if he thought that Sesshoumaru would let his latest stunt go unpunished.

To even think of severing their bond…

The hanyou didn't know what force existed behind the Daiyoukai's impassive façade. He didn't know the power of those instincts, those feelings that he so coveted. He desired the human emotion of love and affection.

He had confessed to those emotions.

"You are precious to me. I missed you. My body and mind, my very soul craves for you. You have always been the center of my universe. I cannot abide your absence for too long. I. Love. You. I treasure you, I adore you. I have worshipped you all my life even if you only give me pain in return."

Sesshoumaru's lips curled into a scowl. "So innocent, little Inuyasha." He whispered into his unconscious brother's ear. "Such innocent affections. You have not tasted true demon emotions yet, little one." He leaned forward, his long hair forming a curtain of white around them. "This naive adoration still speaks of a child's admiration of his older brother."

He pressed a light kiss to Inuyasha's forehead, closing his eyes. The little hanyou wasn't ready. He still didn't experience those same overpowering sensations that Sesshoumaru had become accustomed to.

Inuyasha was mistaken. He had only seen Sesshoumaru's possessive anger, never the concealed passion that strained the Daiyoukai's control every day. He had seen Sesshoumaru feigned disgust, but he didn't see the desperate protectiveness that made him shadow Inuyasha's every movement.

Too young. Still too young but his little brother had forced his hand. Sesshoumaru could no longer hold himself back.

"You're still too innocent for me to open myself to you, my little Inuyasha." He whispered against the smooth skin of his brother's forehead. "Still too innocent to understand. Your haste is going to cost to dear, lovely one."

"Maybe if you had spoken to me instead of trying to push me away, I wouldn't have been so hasty." Inuyasha said gruffly, his eyes fluttering open to meet his older brother's amber eyes. "Maybe it is time be actually spoke to each other without insults and anger, aniue." He said softly.

Sesshoumaru hesitated uncharacteristically for a moment. The anger was still burning in his veins. Inuyasha had tested his patience too many times and his instincts demanded that he worked to ensure that it never happened again.

But Inuyasha was also right. If they were to be mates, they'd be equal. Sesshoumaru wouldn't be able to abide by someone meek and submissive while Inuyasha had too much self-respect to allow it.

Slowly, an elegant hand rose and long fingers sank soothingly into snow-white hair. Inuyasha looked up and he received a look so tender that it took his breath away. "You really are the most frustrating creature to walk this earth." Sesshoumaru confessed softly before resting his forehead on Inuyasha's. "Alright, we shall speak."

Even with the permission, Inuyasha was silent for a while, taking in his mate's expression. They had pushed each other to their limits, that much was apparent. Inuyasha had promised himself that he wouldn't forgive Sesshoumaru's mistakes but he'd still give him the affection and respect that his elder brother not only needed, but also deserved.

He had betrayed that when he goaded the older demon to react.

Rich golden eyes softened as he raised his hands to cup Sesshoumaru's face. "I am sorry, aniue." He whispered, "I never meant to push you so far. Our situation itself was so confusing and wretched. I didn't know how to act. I still don't know how to react. I was so convinced that you hated me, I was desperate. If my involvement with Kikyou and that entire mess hurt you, I am truly very sorry." He confessed.

Sesshoumaru said nothing, only brushing his lips against Inuyasha's forehead in silent forgiveness. He daren't look towards those supple lips as they moved to speak, his control was strained as it is, with a warm, willing mate resting contently in his lap.

"Can we move past this?" Inuyasha asked tentatively. "Can we begin anew?"

The Daiyoukai looked down at him intently, "Inuyasha." He began and it was the first Inuyasha had heard his name fall from his brother's lips with warmth instead of scorn. "The enmity that existed between us will continue to hinder us. Neither of us is of a forgiving nature. I must caution you, while I may try to contain my instincts, I cannot vouch for my temper." He grasped Inuyasha's chin and couldn't help let some of his anger slip into the grip. "Even threatening to sever the bond is enough for me ignore all reason. You know not how you have unsettled me, Inuyasha."

The younger of the two cringed. "Yes… mother did say that it was a big deal…"

Sesshoumaru snorted delicately. "A gross understatement, little brother." He let his grasp loosen, peering down into curious golden eyes. "We'll quarrel." He admitted bluntly. "With so many mistakes and misunderstandings between us, we will not have a smooth-sailing courtship. We cannot be proper mates unless you can match my feelings, Inuyasha." At the hanyou's look of disbelief, he raised a brow. "Come now, my lovely one, you know that demons feel more intensely than humans. We are simply more connected to nature, which is why our control over our emotions makes us seem unfeeling. I have resented… I still resent the many years that stand between us. You haven't even experienced your first Call yet. You do not know of the burn that the Mating Call leaves behind when it is unsatisfied."

Inuyasha frowned, "Surely, there would've been oth-" He stilled before he could complete the sentence.

The expression on Sesshoumaru's face was formidable.

"Er… right." He trailed off awkwardly, "You wouldn't. I apologize for that, aniue. I did not mean any slight on your honor."

"You had better learn to watch your tongue when you speak to me, little one." Sesshoumaru said calmly but there was a hint of icy danger in his voice.

Inuyasha scowled in irritation, "Don't get too cocky, you great brute. Ordering me about like that is going to get you nowhere fast."

Sesshoumaru's eyes flashed but he took a deep breath and controlled his ire. "I forget how much like a child you behave."

"I am past two hundred." Inuyasha said with a huff. "Just because you're ancient doesn't mean that I'm a little kid."

The Daiyoukai's eyebrow gave a twitch of irritation. "Inuyasha." He growled warningly.

The hanyou waved his hand, "Yes, yes, let us not forget that you're sensitive about your age, old man." He taunted before narrowing his eyes at Sesshoumaru mockingly, "What are you, a girl? We're both of age and the fact that five hundred years separate us means nothing in the grand scheme of things. You'll still live to see the fifth millennia of your life and me being so young will probably keep me with you longer."

Sesshoumaru suddenly stilled. That thought had not occurred to him at all.

Inuyasha met his gaze with a solemn smile. "I can't match your life-span, aniue, or did you forget that aspect of being a hanyou? I'm allowed at most, three to four thousand years before I must shed this body and join mother in her realm. There are consequences for being born to a Goddess. My soul is the container of all the powers I inherit from Her. My physical body is what it was always supposed to be… part human, part demon, albeit, more demonic than you previously thought because of your mother's generous contributions."

"Mates cannot be separated by death, Inuyasha. We're soul-bonded. Where you go after death is where I'd inevitably be." Sesshoumaru said but there was a sliver of doubt in his voice. Inuyasha wasn't a full demon after all.

"I realize that I'm missing something important here. There's something about the whole Mates business that I still don't understand but really, you've already initiated the Bond. My body and instincts will soon catch up, I guess."

Sesshoumaru nodded, "They will, but it won't be easy or comfortable for you. Your body may be ready for me you are not."

The hanyou shrugged, "I'll deal with it. It can't be that bad."

The Daiyoukai narrowed his eyes but he had not words to explain to Inuyasha the seriousness of the matter.

His little brother was underestimating the sheer power of a Youkai Soul-Bond.

… And he would suffer for it.