InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Uke ❯ Guilt and...Love? ( Chapter 26 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]

Disclaimer: The characters of InuYasha are not mine, they are property of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Yomiuri TV, Sunrise, and Viz. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
 
A/N I don't even want to look and see how long it took me to get this up, ugh. Apologies all around. I've been experimenting these last months with crashing my head and my computer it seems. Turns out, having multiple concussions in a row and a broken computer rather sucks in the worst way possible, grrr. But, I'm finally getting back here and putting this all up now - an x-mas present, eh? And there is a brand new chapter that just got put up for the first time, anywhere, today as well.
Warning: WARNING- This chapter MAY contain: angst, fluff, foul language, Male/Male, anal sex, oral sex, non-consensual sexual acts, spanking, incest, or violence.
 
 
 
Chapter 26 - Guilt and…Love?
 
Miroku looked over at Inuyasha huddled against the inside of the hut and his forehead wrinkled with worry. Sesshoumaru had been gone now for almost half an hour, and Inuyasha's skin had been growing paler and more delicate ever since the daiyoukai had departed. At the moment, it was so translucent Miroku thought it resembled fine porcelain.
 
He couldn't overcome the dread that Inuyasha himself was just as fragile.
 
Struggling with regret and guilt, Miroku dug his fingers into his thighs. He was glad that bastard Naraku was dead. He'd been positively ecstatic when Sango had told him that all she and Kagome had found of him was a pool of acid half sunken into the forest floor, to tell the truth. The only thing that would have made it better was if he could have heard Naraku's screams as he melted his way into hell. After so long, to have him gone so suddenly without witnessing it was difficult to comprehend. Hearing the screams would have helped his mind accept the reality of it all.
 
He loosened his cramped fingers and brushed them over the palm of his right hand. Naraku was really dead. He was no longer an issue in Miroku's life; a life that now stretched before him with so many possible years that it was a little overwhelming. Although it couldn't be as crushing as everything must be for Inuyasha right now. Miroku closed his eyes briefly, his body aching from the inside out as he was hit with an image of Naraku's attack. That one flash before he'd had to concentrate on the barrier itself would likely be with him for years. That sick son of a bitch had almost….
 
Miroku's breath shuddered out and he tried to calm himself.
 
He wasn't helping anyone by allowing himself to wallow like this. Quite honestly, he viewed it as a selfish indulgence that he had no right to experience. He had failed Inuyasha. He had better come to terms with that, no matter how painful, because Inuyasha needed him right now. His paltry guilt was a poor reason to offer as an excuse; he would not fail Inuyasha again. He could wish all he liked that he'd heeded Sesshoumaru's warning about Naraku, but it wouldn't change what had happened. Unlike the others, he had no excuse not to have been watching for their enemy. He knew what the bastard was capable of, including what Naraku's newest designs on Inuyasha might entail. He held the largest share of responsibility for what had happened.
 
It still stunned him how little Sesshoumaru's words had penetrated into his mind. His thinking had been so set in familiar patterns that even when they'd felt Naraku's aura, his first thought hadn't been Inuyasha's protection, but simply to seek his aid before they went after their mutual enemy. When Sesshoumaru had burst into their group and ordered them to follow, Miroku had still expected anything but what he'd seen. In his mind, he'd envisioned Inuyasha fighting, or seriously injured and in need of help. Poisoned, even. But to see him about to be raped for the second time, his face so despairing and horror stricken in those last moments as he truly thought there was no hope of aid…Miroku cleared his throat as it closed up on him.
 
He was at fault. He was the reason Inuyasha's body had been bared and vulnerable as their worst enemy touched him intimately.
 
He didn't think he'd ever get the sight of it out of his head. Buddha knows he'd tried, as shameful as it was. He'd focused on every other aspect of the situation rather than trying to remember Inuyasha's limp body on the ground. He'd had enough issues to deal with on a more personal level that it hadn't been as hard as it should have been. Finding himself alive after the battle, whole and minus the familiar wind tunnel, had been a shock. Discovering that the jewel they'd worked towards had been made whole and already used on his own body had been another. Then to find out that Sesshoumaru had taken Inuyasha away as well had been flabbergasting. Without too much thought, he'd concluded that the two brothers would do well together. Sesshoumaru had changed significantly in the last few days. They were mates. And it had been obvious from Sesshoumaru's visage as he'd come for help that he cared about Inuyasha. He would watch out for him.
 
That's what he told himself, and like some gullible child, he'd let himself believe. As though a few hours of comfort could make up for years of neglect. As though a near rape would be any less traumatic for Inuyasha than a full one would have, especially with his history. Miroku's guilt had been so desperate to believe that he hadn't completely failed Inuyasha that he'd even let Inuyasha's act fool him for a while. No, he corrected himself, he'd chosen to let the act fool him. He wasn't normally unobservant. His self-induced ignorance hadn't lasted for long, but long enough that he'd spoken to Inuyasha without even considering his words' effects. If he'd had one moment of thought to consider how painful their talk of Naraku must be to Inuyasha he could have easily changed his words, and likely diverted the others as well, but by the time he'd really allowed his friend's fears to settle into his brain, the damage was done.
 
Miroku felt his hands fisting again and grit his teeth. How could he have been so stupid? How could he have let Inuyasha down like this? It wasn't as though he hadn't believed Sesshoumaru; he knew Naraku was capable of any atrocity Miroku could think up. And while Naraku hadn't tried this particular assault on Inuyasha before, Miroku had always had suspicions that he'd be capable of it. He'd never had it confirmed, but a few things Mushin had let slip when he was drunk and rambling had hinted that Miroku's own father might have been violated by the bastard in his youth. So why hadn't Miroku been more watchful? Was he so petty that a few enraged slaps to his backside had him withdrawing from a true friend? Or had he simply made a tragic mistake at the worst possible time?
 
He hoped that it had simply been a mistake, as unforgivable as it might be, but he wished he could be sure. When he could get a moment alone with Inuyasha, he needed to ask for forgiveness and see if he could atone, in some small way. For now, he needed to get over his own petty need for absolution and deal with the person in the room who really required his help. Because it was obvious that Inuyasha was desperately in need. The hanyou tried to keep his words gruff and his manner as irritable as always, but he gave himself away. His timing was off. Inuyasha was silent at the times when he'd usually be making various snorts and huffs of impatience as Kagome did something that took too long, or Kouga made some thoughtless comment. After one started watching, it was very clear that Inuyasha was not fully engaged. Miroku knew Kaede was especially worried over it, and after Inuyasha's outburst at Kagome, the others were finally starting to notice something was off as well.
 
He truly wished that Kagome would go over to Inuyasha and give him some of the comfort that she usually doled out so willingly, but she seemed frozen. Miroku didn't know that he'd ever seen her so indecisive that she couldn't help console someone. Yet here she was, hovering on the opposite side of the hut from Inuyasha while Kouga lounged uncomfortably next to her. She watched Inuyasha now, and he was certain she worried by the way she chewed her lips and her hands tightened on each other periodically, but she made no move towards him.
 
Was it Inuyasha's relationship with Sesshoumaru that threw her off? Miroku knew that he was still adjusting to the Daiyoukai in their midst. Even after seeing him in the woods, and preparing to be punished by the demon, Miroku had never once envisioned Sesshoumaru voluntarily sitting inside a human hut, especially one that was as crowded as Kaede's had been. Thank goodness her dwelling was a bit larger than the norm or there wouldn't even be enough room to turn around at this point. Overcrowding with a touchy Sesshoumaru was more than anyone wanted to deal with, he was sure.
 
Yet, Sesshoumaru had obviously been caring for Inuyasha. Inuyasha had snarled at him more than once, both before they'd left for his little call of nature and since, and not once did Sesshoumaru retaliate. He'd glared back, certainly. He'd sneered; he'd growled; he'd wrinkled his nose in disgust at the humans encroaching on the air he breathed. However, Miroku had noticed that everything he did ended with something that Inuyasha seemed to need.
 
Kouga had started, yet again, to brag about his various exploits with Kagura and Naraku, and Sesshoumaru had suddenly ordered Inuyasha to tell him where he'd put the daiyoukai's armor. They'd argued as Inuyasha refused to divulge its whereabouts, Inuyasha ending with an `I'll tell you when I'm fucking good and ready.'
 
Sesshoumaru had grabbed Inuyasha's chin and brought their faces close, whispering something that had Inuyasha scowling and shoving him away. As Inuyasha had sat and glared at the floor, Miroku realized that the entire thing had shut Kouga up, and the odd, tense stillness that had surrounded Inuyasha during the ookami's monologue was completely gone. He was upset, obviously, but it felt cleaner: the difference between a festering wound and a gash.
 
Sesshoumaru had done the same thing more than once now. Inuyasha started to withdraw, his body hunching slightly as his eyes started to lose focus, and Sesshoumaru would say something condescending or sneering and Inuyasha would rage at him. It wasn't necessarily the method Miroku would have chosen, but it did seem to be helping his friend release some of his pain, so Miroku was content to watch and see when the best time to offer his help would be.
 
At least there was this one benefit for Inuyasha from the entire disaster: Sesshoumaru was obviously affected. For the better, as far as Miroku could tell. Sesshoumaru treating Inuyasha with his own brand of compassion, and then actually staying in the presence of so many humans in a far from lofty dwelling, was above and beyond anything Miroku would have predicted would ever happen. How deeply did Sesshoumaru's feelings for Inuyasha actually run?
 
Miroku looked at Inuyasha again and got up. He needed to stop letting his thoughts ramble and do something. He wasn't certain Inuyasha would want him over there, but as Sesshoumaru wasn't here at the moment, he had to do something to try and calm his friend. He didn't think he could wait for Sesshoumaru's return, not with Inuyasha's appearance. Eyes flat, hands tightly clenched on Tessaiga as he watched them, he seemed to be retreating into his own thoughts, and they were obviously extremely unpleasant ones. He needed help. Miroku took a deep breath and moved, nodding to Sango as he crossed the room.
 
She and the others continued talking with barely a glance in his direction. Didn't they wonder how Inuyasha was doing as well? They didn't believe his act, did they? He'd been so sure they were noticing the same things that he was.
 
“Do you mind if I sit here? It's getting a bit crowded on that side of the room.” It wasn't a lie. Sango, Kagome, Shippou, Kirara, three ookami, and himself? It was practically a brood.
 
“Do whatever the hell you want,” Inuyasha grumbled, his eyes looking up at Miroku briefly before glaring down at the floor. He shifted a little.
 
Miroku knelt, brushing his thumb across his right hand, his fingers trying to run over beads no longer there. He hesitated, uncertain what might help. Words were so useless sometimes.
 
“We survived,” he finally said softly.
 
Inuyasha didn't respond.
 
“Whatever Naraku did to us and our loved ones, we survived, Inuyasha. He's been wiped off the face of the earth, and we're still here.” Miroku kept his voice low, trying to keep below the murmuring voices of the women and wolves across from them.
 
Golden eyes turned their dark depths on Miroku. “Does it fucking matter? What the hell's so great about being alive? Ain't like there's anything special about it.”
 
“Inuyasha, that's not true.” Miroku swallowed painfully. “Life is…a gift. It's…”
 
“It's a damn shitty gift.” Inuyasha looked over at Kagome and the others, watching her blush slightly as ostentatious flattery poured from Kouga's mouth. His voice lowered hoarsely. “Life is pain, monk. Don't make it like it's something to enjoy.”
 
Miroku felt his throat closing up again and he whispered his reply. “Pain is only a part of life, Inuyasha.” Miroku's hand reached out tentatively to touch Inuyasha's knee as he looked him in the eye, but paused halfway as he recalled the previous reaction to an attempt at consoling. His hand dropped back to his lap. “You can't let yourself forget that joy exists, Inuyasha. You can still find pleasure in things. Maybe not immediately, but hope for future happiness is only dead when you are, my friend.” Miroku couldn't keep his eyes from sliding over to Sango.
 
Inuyasha grunted and drew Miroku's eyes back. An almost imperceptible smile graced Inuyasha's lips a moment, the first genuine thing, aside from anger, Miroku had seen since he arrived. “You're gonna get your ass kicked on a daily basis, monk.”
 
Miroku flushed. He hadn't thought Inuyasha was aware enough outside himself to notice Miroku's straying gaze. He tried to respond lightly. “Then I suppose you'll be happy to prove your point.”
 
“Eh?”
 
“Life is pain.”
 
Inuyasha snorted, almost a laugh, and Miroku welcomed the sound of it. Anything but that painful blankness. They sat next to each other without speaking as he watched Inuyasha carefully. Inuyasha's brittleness had receded again for a time. Kneeling, thinking about what he might be able to say that would have any meaning for Inuyasha, Miroku realized that he was feeling Sesshoumaru's aura approaching. It had been hovering not too far from the village for the last half hour; not surprising considering the youkai lord had said he was going to fetch his retainer and the child who followed him. They had set up camp in Inuyasha's Forest soon after Sesshoumaru had taken Inuyasha away, according to Sango and Kagome. An odd couple to find with Sesshoumaru. He hoped they would be good for Inuyasha.
 
The prickling awareness grew stronger, and as everyone on the opposite side of the room slowly grew quiet, he was sure the girls were feeling it too. Inuyasha seemed oblivious, starting to withdraw into himself again just as Sesshoumaru moved the door aside to step in. The lord was so silent, Miroku was certain he wouldn't have known he was there if he hadn't been already looking at the door.
 
“I require your presence outside, Inuyasha.”
 
Inuyasha's hand gripped Tessaiga convulsively as he looked up in surprise. His nose twitched and his eyes roamed over Sesshoumaru's body as if memorizing him. Or comparing him to the image he'd already memorized.
 
“I ain't goin' anywhere with you, bastard,” he spat, still staring. He looked almost terrified, and Miroku worried that whatever effect Sesshoumaru seemed to have on the hanyou had disappeared. Unless he didn't believe it was Sesshoumaru.
 
“He has Sesshoumaru's aura,” Miroku murmured. He nodded to himself as Inuyasha's posture relaxed almost imperceptibly. The hanyou must be having such a hard time trusting his own senses after having been fooled so completely. How could Naraku's death even feel real yet? The abomination had fooled them all so many times, in so many ways, even Miroku was having a hard time believing he was really gone. Without having seen the body, without having anything to confirm the bastard's death, how long would it take Inuyasha to believe down to his soul that Naraku was actually gone?
 
Eyeing him as Inuyasha's fingers still twitched on Tessaiga again and he continued to look at Sesshoumaru, Miroku wished again he could do something more. His words had helped, but Inuyasha didn't look like he completely believed him. Who could blame him?
 
Sesshoumaru's voice cut in. “Do you require assistance? I had not realized you so enjoyed being carried like a recalcitrant child, Inuyasha. If you cannot leave this hovel on your own two feet, however…”
 
“Shut up,” Inuyasha snapped. His pale cheeks flushed into a more normal hue and his eyes crackled angrily as he snarled at his brother. Sesshoumaru raised one bored eyebrow and Inuyasha stood so quickly it was more like a jump. Inuyasha stomped past Miroku and glared at Sesshoumaru.
 
“You are such a fucking prick.” Inuyasha's voice was a vibrant hiss that echoed around the quiet room.
 
“So you have said on numerous occasions. That doesn't negate the fact that you are needed outside.” Sesshoumaru waited a moment as Inuyasha's glare fell from his face. Miroku could practically see Inuyasha's body quiver with the need to storm past Sesshoumaru and out the door. Rather than move, however, Inuyasha huffed and crossed his arms, shuffling his feet awkwardly. Miroku was suddenly hit with the memory of earlier in the day, when Inuyasha had the same pose. He was stalling, Miroku realized. Waiting for Sesshoumaru to leave first?
 
Why didn't he want to leave the hut first? If he truly thought Sesshoumaru was Naraku, he wouldn't be coming near him with anything other than a bared sword, so that couldn't be it. Was he worried about having Sesshoumaru behind him, or was it something about the outside itself? Thinking a moment, he dismissed the worries about Sesshoumaru. If that were the case, he wouldn't have let the daiyoukai walk behind him when they'd gone so briefly into the woods. Miroku watched. What was he frightened of? Sesshoumaru looked at Inuyasha's bent head and Miroku saw a brief softening of the daiyoukai's face before he turned to go. “You will follow.”
 
Inuyasha sneered after him as he stepped down from the floor. “Fucking asshole.” Miroku noticed that he still trailed after him, in spite of the bitter sound to his curses.
 
Hmmm. What did Sesshoumaru want? Miroku rose. “I believe now would be a good time to get some air.”
 
Sango and Kagome looked at each other and stood as well, the youkai around them following suit. “It is a bit stuffy in here right now, isn't it?” Sango said slowly.
 
“It would be nice to see the stars for a while,” Kagome responded.
 
“Yeah. Human houses stink to high heaven anyway,” Kouga said, missing Kagome's rather outraged look as he scrunched up his nose. “C'mon. Let's get outta here and see what's goin' on.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
15 minutes earlier
 
Sesshoumaru found Rin and Jaken with minimal effort. It surprised him somewhat, as Inuyasha's pain and fear still flooded through him so fully that concentration was a distant memory. How much longer was Inuyasha going to feel like this? Sesshoumaru could hardly bear it; how could Inuyasha stand feeling this way? Surely he should be feeling better by now, at least by some small measure? It had been almost an entire day. Humans were supposed to be such short-lived, emotionally turbulent creatures. With such truncated lives, shouldn't they recover more quickly? Shouldn't Inuyasha's human half be doing a better job of healing him by now?
 
Sesshoumaru stopped on the verge of emerging from the underbrush and growled silently to himself. Phantom aches and pains were still swimming through Inuyasha's body right now; his mate's senses felt muted and things throbbed with a dull pain as opposed to the raw ache they'd had before, but it still hurt! Sesshoumaru could feel the deep grinding pull of it, and he struggled not to return to Inuyasha already. He hated this feeling. He loathed the fact that he was responding to an emotional outburst that was not from within himself. No mater how much self-control he exercised, he couldn't rid himself of the feeling, and it was infuriating!
 
Damn that sadistic mutant for causing this! Sesshoumaru wanted to go and toss a diseased carcass on Naraku's remains and spit on top of it.
 
Another twinge of Inuyasha's suffering hit him and he grunted. This hurt. The very idea that Inuyasha was in pain was painful. His breathing started to speed up slightly at the thought. Why the hell was Inuyasha's pain consuming so much of Sesshoumaru's attention? They were mates, but he just couldn't comprehend that the bond would cause this level of anguish when one member was injured. Something was wrong. His breathing went up another notch until it was almost audible. This shouldn't be happening!
 
Was there something about the uke that he had missed when his father had blathered on all those years ago? Or was it something worse? What if it wasn't the bond? What if something more insidious was behind this? A spell, or an illness, or something that might be even worse. What if he was developing…feelings…for Inuyasha?
 
He shuddered. The Gods forbid that ever happen. Lusting after his body was acceptable, but caring?
 
Impossible.
 
There had to be plenty of other reasons for his sudden concern over Inuyasha's inner self. He was just coming to accept his own culpability in treating Inuyasha so poorly over the years, for one thing. It was an immensely unpleasant realization, but he was not a child to run from something simply because it was unpalatable. He ignored the little voice that wondered if that wasn't exactly what he'd been doing all these years as he'd sought out Inuyasha and brutalized him.
 
He could accept that he may have been somewhat unrealistic in his expectations of Inuyasha as the uke, as well. He wanted obedience and respect from Inuyasha, yes, but having been so recently offered his mate's body so submissively…in Inuyasha's unique way…but without any feeling attached to it, he couldn't deny that he wanted something more. The idea of a quiet, obedient mate had lost a great deal of its appeal when he'd seen how unnaturally such a thing sat on Inuyasha's shoulders. He wanted Inuyasha to accept their mating.
 
Which was a perfectly normal reaction. There was nothing unusual about it. Who would want to be constantly at odds with their own mate? A little anger and conflict might add excitement to a coupling, but not when there was nothing but conflict. He'd had enough of that, and he was certain Inuyasha had as well. He wanted some peace, and he didn't think he could get any until he found some for Inuyasha. His feelings were too raw and his body too intensely felt for Sesshoumaru to find his equilibrium until Inuyasha recovered.
 
He'd never thought that he'd have to actually consider what his mate needed. He'd always thought he would have a lowly female, or an uke, and their purpose would be to cater to his wishes. He'd been so sure of it. Now, even if Inuyasha catered to every desire he could conceive of, it would still be entirely unsatisfying unless Inuyasha's body stopped broadcasting such discomfort.
 
Especially as Inuyasha's body had such clear signals it was almost like reading his mind, just as he'd once speculated. Every little emotion seemed to have a very distinct set of physical tells. Sesshoumaru was finding himself practically skipping any familiar sensation and interpreting the probable emotional content immediately because of it.
 
Inuyasha's emotions weren't any more palatable than his body's reaction.
 
He wanted Inuyasha to feel better. He wanted to see that flushed, sated look on Inuyasha's face again instead of the panicked despair that his mate continued to feel. He wanted Inuyasha to act more like his old self. That did not mean that he cared about the whelp, however. He didn't. He couldn't. It, well, it simply meant that he wanted to have a healthy relationship instead of one that was, he admitted, based on decades of constant outbreaks of temper and vitriol.
 
He felt another twinge from his mate and it tore at him like rat's claws from the inside. He grit his teeth as he tried not to groan. He did NOT care for Inuyasha, dammit! He wasn't even a full demon! And the way he treated Sesshoumaru was abominable. Although it had grown a bit humorous for a little while there. And now…now it was just terribly sad…
 
How long was Inuyasha going to feel this horrible, gnawing wretchedness?
 
His gut clenched as his mind suddenly decided to add more fuel to the fire. Was this what Inuyasha had felt after his first rape? Completely alone because no one, including Sesshoumaru, had given him a thought. With no one to help him through it, even younger than he was now, and feeling like this? Sesshoumaru clenched his teeth, breathing harshly through his nose as he struggled. He was furious with the thought, with the result, with every damn thing that was causing Inuyasha this suffering. It caused Sesshoumaru pain. He couldn't excise the grief. He couldn't even ignore it! He could take Jaken and Rin and run as far as he liked; it would still be inside of him, reminding him of everything that had happened.
 
Reminding him of everything he'd done.
 
Sesshoumaru snarled silently. He didn't have room in his life for guilt. He couldn't live like this! Inhaling sharply, Sesshoumaru started to move. He needed to hurry. He had to get back and find some way to help Inuyasha recover from this, because if he had to live with this constant trauma, he knew he was going to start doing something completely insane just to rid himself of it. Inuyasha didn't deserve this. He'd been hurt so much already it was more than even Sesshoumaru could do to pretend that he deserved it. No one deserved this.
 
With no thoughts coming to his mind over a solution to his problem, he finally stepped into the camp and was immediately met with a high pitched shriek.
 
“Lord Sesshoumaru! You're back! Oh, we're so happy to have you back! We'll get ready immediately to leave this human village as soon as you say the word!” Gods but Jaken was irritating.
 
“Lord Sesshoumaru, where's your armor?” Rin's soft voice cut through the grating screech of Jaken's and had the toad gaping at her.
 
“That's none of your business, Rin. Don't bother Lord Sesshoumaru with unimportant questions. You're growing to be just as impertinent as the rest of these disrespectful humans. If you're not careful, you could end up left behind. Lord Sesshoumaru would never allow someone rude and disrespectful to be a part of our household. Be grateful that someone like you with human blood is allowed to be in his presence at all! You should…” Sesshoumaru cut him off. He didn't have time for this today.
 
"I have taken Inuyasha as my mate.  Treat him as the position demands."  The kappa stared at him.
 
“Mate?” he mumbled faintly, his skin paling to a shade of spring green that was, oddly enough, much more attractive. “Inuyasha and…Lord Sesshoumaru?” Jaken swayed a moment and toppled over in a dead faint.  Rin let out a squeal and started to dance around gleefully.
 
“A mate? Lord Sesshoumaru, you took a mate?”
 
“Yes, Rin.”
 
“Lord Sesshoumaru is married now?”
 
“Yes, Rin.” Close enough for her understanding, anyway.
 
“Lord Sesshoumaru has a bride!” Sesshoumaru almost smiled. Inuyasha would be so furious if he heard someone call him that.
 
“Yes, Rin.”
 
“Do I know him?”
 
“Yes, Rin.” Sesshoumaru started to turn. Rin would follow just as predictably as Inuyasha would get angry. As predictably as he got angry before Naraku had touched him…
 
“Is this the same Lord Inuyasha that…”
 
“Yes, Rin.”
 
Rin danced up to his side and beamed up at him. “Lord Sesshoumaru is in love!”
 
“Yes, Rin,” Sesshoumaru said automatically, thinking of how to introduce her and Inuyasha. His mind replayed her words as she squealed happily again and his eyes widened. What had he just…
 
Rin beamed even brighter. “Will Lord Inuyasha have a baby now?
 
Sesshoumaru wrestled with his previous answer, trying not to choke on his own spit. “That is… not an appropriate question, Rin.” 
 
“Oh. What's appropriate?” She smiled so brightly as she waited for his answer that he was reminded of why he let her follow him in the first place. That small, fragile little smile from someone who had hope for no reason he could fathom. A child who it had still been within his power to rescue, unlike the poor, feral thing that his brother had already become by the time he'd found him.
 
“Never mind, Rin.”
 
At least Rin was the only one who'd heard him say he lov…gods, he couldn't even think the term. Emotions like `love' were sappy, misbegotten pabulum for weak-minded individuals who lacked the power to seize what they wanted. Thank the Gods no one would pay any heed to her words, even if she happened to mention his words. She was just a child; everyone knew children spoke of things incorrectly, didn't they? Of course they did. No one would ever get the impression that he felt more than was appropriate for a demon of his stature.
 
“How did Lord Sesshoumaru meet Lord Inuyasha?” Rin asked, skipping alongside him as they moved around the brush.
 
His chest started aching fiercely as he saw again a terror stricken, golden eyed boy-child running from him.
 
Rin simply continued as he refused to answer. “Did Lord Inuyasha like the ceremony?” The piercing ache grew worse as he recalled the pain and shock in Inuyasha's face after he'd bitten him. Watching him crawl, bleeding, into shelter to shiver for the rest of the night as Sesshoumaru had congratulated himself on how kind he was being by watching out for him at all.
 
“Was Lord Inuyasha a pretty bride?” Sesshoumaru closed his eyes, seeing Inuyasha as clearly as if he stood there.
 
“Yes, Rin.” Sesshoumaru spoke softly. Beautiful, even with the human smell that should have disgusted him but instead turned him on in ways that he had found profoundly disturbing. Had that pushed him over the edge? Had that vulnerable scent combined with Inuyasha's near brush with Naraku been enough to make him ache so with need and worry that he'd…
 
Had he worried?
 
“When did Lord Sesshoumaru fall in love?” Sesshoumaru stared at her blankly, walking without a clue where his feet were stepping.
 
He wasn't going to answer, but he couldn't even if he had wanted to. How could he have explained this to the child? He had so far avoided discussions about sex completely, and he hoped to for quite some time, so there was no way he would have been able to explain lust and need and revenge and misplaced anger to such a young child. He hadn't taken a mate because of love, because he in no way felt such an emotion for his brother. That would be ridiculous to even consider, because as guilty as he felt, as badly as he may have treated Inuyasha, it did not mean that he had any strong feelings for the hanyou. Not any above what a normal mate might have for their other half, in any case. That was all he felt; any youkai desired to have their mate feel…happy. It was a normal part of the process.
 
Surely if he thought hard enough, he'd remember his father saying that?
 
But, if Rin thought he felt such emotion for his mate, did anyone else think he was a victim of such a weak emotion? He scowled to himself. All he needed was Inuyasha's irritating human companions to start thinking he had some sort of soft feelings for his brother. It made him shudder to even contemplate it. They had better not be thinking about him that way, or…
 
“Is Lord Sesshoumaru all right?” Rin stepped closer in concern as she stared up at him.
 
He sighed, glad to move past the subject. “I'm fine, Rin.”
 
“Good! When can-“
 
“Rin.”
 
"Yes, Lord Sesshoumaru?"
 
"Be quiet.  We are almost at the village."
 
She smiled at the order as though he'd given her a sweet and bounced behind him as he continued to walk back the way he'd come.  "Yes, Lord Sesshoumaru!  Is Master Jaken coming?"
 
"He may follow when he wakes." Now he just had to think of how to force Inuyasha to leave the hut he seemed to have attached himself to. He had the feeling he was going to have to order his brother out or possibly even take him out by force. Considering that Inuyasha was feeling more upset and jittery in his head once more, it was a good thing he was bringing him something to distract him from his own pain.
 
He'd always thought that Rin could cheer up a seven-day-old corpse. If even she couldn't affect Inuyasha's mood, Sesshoumaru wondered if anything he did had a chance in hell of easing Inuyasha's suffering.

Chapter 25
Chapter 27
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