A/N: I'm alllliiiiiiiive! God, I'm sorry it's taken me this long to update. I've been working on this chapter off and on for seven months. You've no idea how hard it is to write for two fandoms simultaneously.


-How to read this story:

(-) Section break.

-. Small break.

"...(none)..." Speaking aloud. +Internal +External.

'...(none)...' Thinking. +Internal.

^'...(italics)...'^ Inner consciousness (beast/yokai/whomever) thinking. +Internal.

~'...(bold)...'~ Mind-speak. Reiki +/- Yokai + Internal.

~"...(bold)..."~ Mind-speak and speaking aloud simultaneously. +Reiki +Yokai +Internal +External.

~^'...(italics + bold)...'^~ Inner consciousness using mind-speak. +Internal +/-Reiki +/-Yokai.

/...(none).../ Emotional response. Internal. +/-Reiki +/-Yokai.

~/...(bold).../~ Emotional response received through link. +Internal.

^/...(italics).../^ Inner consciousness's emotional response. +Internal.

~^/...(italics + bold).../^~ Inner consciousness's emotional response sent or received through link. +Internal +Reiki +Yokai.

+ Always.
+/- Can be chosen to be included or not.

Internal: Can be heard/felt/whatever by inner consciousness(es).
External: Can be heard if the consciousness(es) have ears and are in range.
Reiki: Can be heard/felt/whatever by consciousness(es) that are using holy energy to link.
Yokai: Can be heard/felt/whatever by consciousness(es) that are using yokai energy to link.


Chapter 9 - An Apology

I frowned at him. I could tell he was serious, but I couldn't read his expression and he had shut off the part of the link that allowed me to sense his emotions. Was Shippo safe in her care? Was he happy?

But mostly I wondered, ~'How do we get him back?'~

"We'll just go and talk to her. I'm sure it'll be fine." Rin said dismissively.

Both Sesshomaru and I turned to her with equal expressions of shock. I recovered faster and got to see the foreign expression on my mate's (yes, I'd completely given up fighting it) face. While it should have been funny to see him staggered it seriously worried me. I stared at him until his face returned to normal and we both watched each other, communicating through expression alone.

His concern for my kit, my mixed but mostly negative feelings about going to our ancestral home and meeting his mother, his protectiveness toward his daughter/pup/hidden tenshi and pleasure at finally having me at his side where I belonged.

I felt myself lick my bottom lip and bite it, exposing one fang.

He exhaled as his eyes followed my tongue's movement. I could see the struggle for him not to mimic me.

That was... hot, painfully sexy... nice.

'We both have to agree before you can mate him properly.' Beast reminded me.

He told me that the strongest links came from trust and agreement from all parties on the first... mating.

'Rutting.' Beast crudely corrected.

My father had mated Sesshomaru's mother without her beast's trust. There had to be more of a story there than just a political move but I didn't know it. I wondered if Sesshomaru did and if he'd tell me one day.

But, most importantly true mates had to bind to one another, heart and soul. In order to do this I needed to actually talk to the bastard.

God! That was going to be f!#&ing awful.

But good communication and a solid foundation was probably important to a good relationship.

Probably.

~'You are aware she'll kill him on sight.'~ Sesshomaru sounded mentally horrified. The expression didn't show on his face.

I wondered, briefly, if that was a royalty thing or a Sesshomaru thing. 'Will I be expected to do that ice face thing?'

Beast didn't respond.

Rin shrugged. ~'We'll see.'~ She thought smugly. She clearly thought differently.

While I trusted Rin's judgment on most people I didn't trust this. She hadn't seen the... reigning Lady person since she got her sight (had she?) so she couldn't possibly know. I was the result of an affair. I doubt the female yokai could have mated again. There had to be some bitterness and there was probably a reasonable reason she didn't take me in.

And a reason why Sesshomaru was still making eye-twitchy huffs at his pup. Our pup.

I listened to the familiar buzz of them blocking me out of the mental conversation they were holding through me. Beast calmed his agitated pacing in my brain and I admired the work that Shippo put into his little figure. It was a nine tailed kitsune and although I could tell he had carved it himself it was still better than most trained humans could accomplish.

~'Gods, I miss him so much.'~ I didn't realize I was projecting until Rin took my free hand.

~'We all do, Inuyasha-sa- gomen.'~ Her nose wrinkled as she cut off the honorific. "We'll get him back. You'll see; it'll all be ok."

I sighed. "In my experience, Rin, nothing ever works out the way it should." I patted her hand and looked away to blink rapidly.

~'This time, brother, things will be different.'~

~'Could you maybe not call me that when we're supposed to... you know?'~ I made a vaguely crude hand gesture.

My head was filled with his mental laughter and his lips twitched into a small smile. Rin let out a loud laugh before covering her mouth with her hands.

Sango was approaching. "What's going on?" She asked us before she'd be able to hear a response. She was clearly accustomed to working with nervous yokai. She made sure to announce her presence and her intentions.

I plucked the hair from the figure and lobbed it at her.

She caught it and I felt my heart swell with pride. Sango was tough, smart and not just for a human; male or female. It was sad the only way she could get the respect she deserved was by creating her own town. So far the village was too far away from any strategic point to be attacked by fighting lords, human or yokai. I wondered how long it would last. 'I will be here for her when it happens.' I vowed.

'Good.' Beast agreed.

One good thing would be that whatever idiot decided to attack them would underestimate them. A town of mostly women and weak men? They'd think and would be slaughtered. Sango had a more realistic view on human... mortality than Kagome did. She'd defend her way of life to the last fighter. Sango was one of the most honorable beings I knew. Pity her lifespan was so short.

"What is this?" Sango asked when she was close enough to hear an answer. However, she noticed the dug up grave at the same time. "Shippo?" She asked, hope saturating the name.

"Alive." Rin said.

"We think." Sesshomaru added.

Sango frowned at him and narrowed her eyes.

"His mother took him." I pointed at the idiot with my thumb. "We can't be sure what she's up to but we're pretty sure she'll keep him alive 'cuz she wants me."

"Well, what are you waiting for then?! Go get him!"

"We do not yet know this Sesshomaru's honorable mother's intentions for Inuyasha-sama. We must know that he'll be safe before we endanger both of them. It is likely Inuyasha-sama's kit will be safe until we come for him." Sesshomaru explained.

Sango flinched every time he used the honorific on my name. "That's..." She lost her train of thought.

I guessed she was torn between saying it was weird to hear the bastard talk about me like that and saying that the situation we were in probably had a simple fix.

"Indeed."

I had no idea what he agreed with her on.

She stood up straight. "Right. So, how can I help?"

The bastard raised one eyebrow and asked condescendingly, "You?"

Sango clenched her fists at the insult. "Yes, me."

"This is not a battle against the evil of a rogue yokai. Fighting this Sesshomaru's honorable mother would be declaring war on all white Inuyokai and possibly all black and brown Inuyokai as well. It is a fight a mere ningen onna cannot win."

I could see Sango's rage rising to the surface and decided to intervene. "Right. Then she probably don't wanna fight then."

Sesshomaru shot me a flat look as my grasp of the language kept devolving. It was clearly irritating him and I responded by smiling innocently except for one flashed fang.

He retaliated by opening the emotional part of the link and showing me exactly how my fangs made him feel.

"Kami-sama! Are they always like that?" Sango looked disgusted.

"Uh-huh!" Rin nodded with innocent glee. "They're very sweet."

"Urgh. Disgusting."

Sesshomaru shot Sango a small glare. Not the terrifying one, one of the nice ones. The one that reminded her exactly who she was insulting. "Enough." He demanded.

I wanted to growl, to show him he wasn't the boss. I was the pack leader and he needed to look to me before scolding the current... alpha female if he... wanted... to...

"Oh... f!#&." I murmured.

^'Yeah...'^ Beast agreed.

If I was going to be alpha then I'd have to rule the West and there was no way in f!#& I was going to even attempt to do that.

~'I shall be the alpha.'~ Apparently the bastard caught onto my thoughts.

I mentally scowled at Beast for not closing the links for me, he mentally rolled his eyes back and I decided if I was going to die by explaining just who would be alpha then I didn't really want to do it in front of the pup or involve the town. Or Sango.

The tall idiot was bristling, catching the edges of my thoughts and emotions through the links I never bothered to shut but wasn't using to project. He was preparing for a mentally verbose argument.

I could already hear all his points and agreed with every last one. He was more mature, more knowledgeable, more able to manage our assets (including the double entandre), but...

~^'Butt indeed.'^~ Beast laughed.

I blushed redder than my fire rat.

Sesshomaru's eye twitched twice before he figured it out. ~'Well... To borrow an expression from you, f!#&.'~

"You more than me, I think." I started laughing uncontrollably.

"HEY!" Sango shouted.

I swallowed the next fit of near hysterical laughter and focused on her face.

'Oh, right.'

Beast sighed.

'Shaddup you, this is mostly your fault. At least I have the excuse of dealing with out of control hormones.'

Sango noticed my momentary distraction. "Shame on you, Inuyasha!" She near growled. "I would have thought that your first priority would be saving Shippo from a psychopath-"

"She's not-" Rin interjected.

"You don't know the history, Rin-sama." Sango interrupted. "Sure, she's calmed down now. But, after Inu-taisho's death she was..." She looked for a word before finishing lamely, "violent."

~'Thank you.'~ I thought at my pup for distracting the headman. Sango didn't assault men anymore but I'd hate to have her fall back into bad habits because I was around.

"The inu-yokai had a lot of in-fighting after Inu-taisho's death. The other colored clans wanted to overthrow the reigning white inu-yokai. The neko-yokai saw the opportunity to strike while the clans were at war with each other. They planned to overthrow the strongest clan, the white clan, first then move down the line making and breaking alliances as they went. What ensued was a battle on a scale not seen for decades." Sango explained. "Then, of course, the dragon-yokai wanted revenge for Ryūkotsusei."

I looked at Sesshomaru, had he fought too?

"There were spies within the white clan, yokai that had mated with a member of the brown or black clans that constantly attempted assassinations. The lady Inukimi was not truly recognized as the clan leader as Inu-taisho decreed that women could not rule. Sesshomaru-sama was far too young to be taken seriously." Sango looked like she wanted to say more on that subject but decided not to.

I made a note to ask her about it when my brother wasn't around.

"What happened?" Rin asked, entranced with the story.

"Lady Inukimi showed them that a woman can be just as if not more of an effective leader than a man. She was ruthless and stories of horrifying tortures were spread so widely that we have them recorded as a warning. She taught Sesshomaru-sama and together the two of them nearly singlehandedly ended the coup, uniting the inu clans and defeating the neko-yokai. The dragon-yokai fled rather than face such a powerful adversary as Lady Inukimi."

"Interesting." Sesshomaru commented. "But not entirely accurate."

"My point is that you an- that Lady Inukimi as heartless, ruthless and terrifying. There might be yokai that see Inuyasha as the true clan leader since his mother was Inu-taisho's true mate. Based on history I think it's safe to say she'd meet any threat to your, or her, place with swift, harsh action."

Rin frowned. ~'I don't think so, she wants grandpups too badly. If you two mate before seeing her...'~ She trailed off suggestively. When I sent her my confusion she outwardly rolled her eyes in exasperation. ~'You need to get knocked up Inuyasha.'~

~"No way! It's not even possible!"~

~'What do you mean? You cannot carry young?'~ Sesshomaru looked deeply troubled.

I blushed. ~"Of course not. What would happen on my human night? I'm a man!"~

Sango squeaked when I said that last part aloud and excused herself. Which was both a blessing and a shame. She probably knew more about all this than I did and might be able to come up with a solution. At the same time I really didn't want to talk to her about this. It was hard enough wrapping my own head around the situation I didn't want to discuss it with others!

The lordly idiot clearly hadn't considered this. He paced while he thought and blocked the links.

"You need to talk to each other. There's an easy solution to this." Rin said.

~'Tell me!'~ Sesshomaru demanded.

~'Only if you can't figure it out for yourself.'~ She said as she walked away.

"She's willful." I said.

Sesshomaru snarled at the implied insult.

"I didn't mean it badly! She needs to be tough to put up with you!" I could have smacked myself. "I didn't mean... Oh, f!#& it. I did mean that. You're a pain in the ass."

My brother didn't respond outwardly to my comments and he'd blocked the links again. "Come with this Sesshomaru." He said, reaching out his hand for me to take. ~'We must talk in private.'~

~'Stop f!#&ing with the links, it's giving me a headache.'~

Sesshomaru unblocked all the links on his end and I could feel him drop the link to Rin. I did the same.

We flew to the clearing we'd... played... in earlier. I imagined I could still smell traces of our musk there but decided it just had to be memories.

~'Inuyasha, I need to apologize. I've let you down so many times.'~

~"It sounds like you had your reasons."~

~'Yes, but my mate should come first.'~ He frowned and got a little wrinkle between his eyebrows. I wanted to lick it.

'D #% this meadow.' It was messing with my thoughts.

^'No, I agree, it's sexy to see him worked up over us.'^

~'But you can't ignore your duty.'~ I said to my half-brother, ignoring Beast.

~'That's what I always thought and you've always suffered for it.'~ Sesshomaru took a deep breath. "Inuyasha, will you do me the honor of mating this Sesshomaru?"

I froze. "But, what about-"

"You must lead. This Sesshomaru cannot be the mate you need as well as-"

"No." I interrupted his nonsense. I didn't know the first thing about ruling and wanted no part of it. "We'll figure this out. I think realizing you had a problem will make it better. But we can't do this now. We need to go to Shippo. Your mother won't wait forever."

~'We should be mated before you meet her. It would be safest.'~

"F!#& that. I'm not taking a mate because of pressure." I looked into his golden eyes. "When I mate it will be for the right reasons. I'm not going to rush this. We're going to do this right."

~'How will we deal with the mating issue? If I make the alpha bite I won't be able to carry and if you make it you'll be the rightful ruler.'~

"If that's the rule it's stupid. We can just change it."

"There are rules of the court. This Sesshomaru cannot just make decrees-"

"Oh, f!#& that. Of course you can. And if it'll cause problems Rin has a solution. It's not somethin' we have ta worry about right now anyway." I said closing the subject. "Now, I'm s#!% at planning so you need to come up with a way to get our kit back."

Sesshomaru was practically glowing. ~'Our kit?'~

I shrugged. It was time to start acting like a team. He'd apologized and he still had a long way to go before I trusted him (I knew there'd be a lot more talks in our future) but we'd made progress today. He wasn't the only one with problems in the relationship. If he was willing to change so was I.


End of chapter notes:

Sorry for such a short chapter! Please stick with me. I promise I'm back and will update semi-regularly. Comments make me write faster (and are the only reason I haven't abandoned this).

(-)

Thank you:

Everyone who is still with me. I'm sorry I took a break from this story. My life snapped out of control, as life tends to do, and I wasn't in the proper headspace to write. I'm back now though.

naturechild02 on DA who gave me the idea to change the formatting to make mind-speak more noticeable. You can find her on twitter: authormkrepps and on AFF: MarieKrepps

Rumiko Takahashi-sama for her wonderful stories and characters that made this story possible.

(-)

Disclaimer:

I don't own anything. Well, actually I own a lot of s#!%. Some of it is pretty cool. All of it is worth next to nothing. I really don't own anything that is in the Inuyasha universe. I kinda own this plot and all OC that come with it. No profit is made from this little gem. But, due to the nature of bi-polar I probably won't finish it. So... yeah. I don't care if you want to finish it if I haven't updated in over a year.