Heal

"You see anything?"

"No! This is ridiculous; I can't even see my hands in this rain!" Sango complained. "This isn't working you guys, it could take weeks at this rate!"

"Which we don't have," Miroku said sternly. "It's already been too long as it is." The monk still managed to look completely composed, even in this pouring rain with water streaming down his black bangs into his face, and even though Inuyasha had now been missing for an entire week.

Kagome stood next to him, trying to shield her eyes from the stinging water. Please hold on, Inuyasha; we're coming, she half-thought, half-prayed.

"Do you think he's okay, Kagome?" Shippou asked in a quivering voice, his tone coming softer than usual from under her backpack flap.

"I honestly don't know, Shippou. Knowing Naraku, he..." Her voice failed her at that point.

Knowing Naraku, he could be already dead.

Only a week before the group had been hunting jewel shards as usual, with spats, demons, and Miroku's perversions coming and going like riverflow.

But then, a fight with an especially strong demon had flabbergasted them all as the enormous monster had immediately gone for Inuyasha and slapped the hanyou into a tree, making him fall unconscious. The blow had only stopped him for a minute, but that was long enough for the demon to cast and hold him in an entrapment spell and carry him off into the mountains. Thanks to an injured Miroku and a poisoned Shippou, the others were unable to follow.

It had taken them a week just to find Naraku's hideout, carrying the two who were out of comission on Kilala's back as they tried to discover the location of the long hated half-demon. He moved the enormous castle frequently, and was sending them all sorts of monsters, storms and poisons to slow them down. Miroku had recognized the signs of a hidden agenda.

"He probably has something in store for Inuyasha. He could have just killed him here when he had the chance, rather than taken him straight into the heart of his lair, alive, while he's still a threat. I don't like the feel of this, I really don't," he murmured. He had quickly been silenced by a troubled Sango, who stroked his forehead tenderly as he fell asleep.

The two had been growing closer in the past few months, and even their regular exchange of insults and injuries had seemed more playful. Sango had actually screamed when she saw the monk slashed open by the two-story demon. Now he was up and about, the wound having healed enough for him to walk on his own and Shippou having gotten rid of most of the poison in his system.

Darn it all, I try to help out Inuyasha and this is what I get
, he thought sleepily from Kagome's pack.

Naraku had planned thoroughly, filling the air with poison gas all around the demon's trail in case anyone tried to follow. The group found the kit later on, his mushrooms having wilted around him. Now he was also on his way to recovery, but the effects of the poison were still slightly visible.

"I still don't see what Naraku would achieve by not getting rid of all of us when he obviously could have," Miroku pondered aloud, shaking his head. "It just doesn't make sense."

"Neither does Naraku sometimes," Kagome muttered. "Knowing that sicko he probably wanted to see him die by his hands, make sure the job was done..."

"He could have just used his demon to bring him the body," Miroku argued. "If we don't find him soon, I'm afraid he might try to use him to his own advantage. Like a--" Miroku glanced in Sango's direction, then lowered his voice, "like a henchman."

"Why not show up here, brainwash him, and have him kill us while we're all in one place?"

Miroku sighed and put a hand to his temples. "I don't know." Maybe we're not the ones he's interested in...

"You guys, this really isn't helping at all," Sango shouted from her perch atop the floating Kilala. Kagome put the backpack down, moved Shippou aside, and reached for her flashlight.

"Here Sango, give this a try," she yelled. "We've got to keep looking."

"I do not believe that will work."

Kagome froze in mid-throw as a cool, familiar voice floated up from behind them. Kagome and Miroku whipped around only to come face to face with a tall, white-haired demon.

"AH!"

"Sesshoumaru?!"

The Lord of the Western lands was easily recogizeable even by his outline, his full tail wrapped around the shoulder with the missing arm, clawed armor settling lightly on his long, lean frame. Tenseiga, the sword that could not hurt but only heal, hung at his side. His yellow eyes scanned over them briefly, then left the group to study the cliffs.

Damn it, why now?
Miroku cursed silently, calculating the odds of getting his wind tunnel open before Inuyasha's sibling sliced him into bacon.

"Why are you here?" To everyone's surprise, Kagome was the first to speak. The stress of the past seven days had been getting to her, and to be honest, she wasn't in the mood for this right now.

"Look, Sesshoumaru," she snapped bitterly. "Your brother isn't here, why don't you just leave us alone?! We have to--"

"I know my brother isn't here," he interrupted smoothly. "That's why I am."

There was about a three second pause.

"What?" Kagome asked stupidly.

Surprisingly enough the demon looked away. "I don't want to discuss it with you as of now. Alright? I just..." Miroku and Sango watched warily as he turned his back to them. "I... I had...a dream..."

"What? A dream?" Kagome found herself confused. Seshoumaru's hard outer shell had been discarded; now it was as though he was...worried?

Is he actually upset? Kagome wondered.

Cautiously, the girl walked through the rain toward the demon lord and stepped in front of him, searching his eyes. "A dream?"

Sesshoumaru looked surprised, watching her gentle, sympathetic expression. "I saw things..."

Things that shouldn't be done to anyone, not even my wretched half-brother.

"I.." He stopped. The shell seemed to replace itself around him. "It doesn't matter." The demon stared coldly down at Kagome. "This is a temporary truce," he said sternly. "I will help you find the hanyou, and once he is found we will go back to the way things were."

Kagome couldn't help but smile. "Okay," she grinned at him and put a hand on his shoulder.

Sesshoumaru seemed a bit unsettled at this.

~~~

Shadows flickered like ghosts along the stone walls. A high-pitched laugh echoed down the mountain, resounding from the small, almost unnoticeable opening halfway down its side.

Along with the sound of grinding, clashing metal.

And screaming.

"Noooo!! AHH! No, please--Sesshoumaru--please Sesshoumaru, HELP ME-- BROTHER!! AaaaAAAAHH!!! Kagome--KAGOME--HELP ME--- no--NO--Brother!! BROTHEEERR!!!--"

Hours later the cries would fall away into the night.

~~~

The paths were very steep. Most of the time Kilala had to fly or jump instead of simply following the narrow road up through the forest. Miroku had been a little jumpy at first, traveling with the former enemy of Inuyasha, but thanks to the youkai's lack of conversation, it was easy to simply get caught up in the search.

Sango had grown accustomed to the demon's presence, as she was the most unfamiliar with him in the first place, and Shippou had decided he was just going to stick with Kagome. He perched on her shoulder, half hiding behind her hair.

"Is he really gonna stay with us, Kagome?" he whispered in her ear. "He scares me..."

"I know, but he's different right now, Shippou," she replied softly. "Something is bothering him, and I think he's going through changes. Look at him." The fox kit and girl watched Sesshoumaru as he made his way on foot up the path. His face had its usual stark beauty, accented by the purple slashes tattooed on his cheeks and the purple crescent moon on his forehead, but the expression was... strange.

Sesshoumaru seemed to be thinking deeply about something. He was almost oblivious to the group of people he accompanied; the demon hadn't said anything to anyone since last night.

Suddenly he noticed the two of them staring and turned to face them with a blink.

"Yes?"

"Oh, um, nothing. We were, um...just wondering what you were thinking about." Kagome blushed slightly, embarrassed that they had been caught staring at him so rudely.

"...I would prefer if I didn't share my thoughts right now... Maybe later?" He forced a slight smile, then turned and began walking again, a little faster. Kagome and Shippou stared at one another, then at Sesshoumaru in shock at his politeness.

That was...weird. I'll definitely have to get used to this.

~~~

Sesshoumaru's brow was furrowed only slightly as he walked up the path with his usual liquid grace. Part of the reason he hadn't spoken was because the youkai had been too absorbed in his own thoughts; mainly he didn't want to get too friendly with them. They were mostly humans, after all.

But part of him had changed after meeting the small human, Rin. She was like a breath of fresh air, wiping away the smog that closed around his lungs, his heart. Sesshoumaru had become attached to the little girl, having formed a protective, parental state of mind when she had become a normal part of his group.

Usually he just didn't think about what she was. Rin was simply there, and he took care of her. And that was how it was, ever since she showed up.

Does blood really matter that much anymore? Racial blood?
he wondered. I've been alone most of my life because of mine...

What is it that really counts in this world? Is nothing worth hoping for, if not even my own family?...What about my last kin, what about my...my little brother--?

That's right, he realized. He is still my blood... But, I...I've been...trying to...

Kagome had indeed been right about the demon lord's changes. Sesshoumaru's internal arguments with himself had been running for months. He was at a crucial point now, and a decision would soon have to be made about what he would value for the rest of his years.

What would it be?...

Sesshoumaru shook his head. Time enough to deal with that later.

Suddenly he realized the fox child and the human miko were watching him. He blinked, having been a bit startled at missing their stares. "Yes?"

The girl looked guilty. "Oh, um, nothing," she figeted, "We were, um...just wondering what you were thinking about."

Sesshoumaru was genuinely shocked. She wondered about what was going on in his head? Why would she care?

This took the demon a while to comprehend. "...I would prefer if I didn't share my thoughhts right now," he said, wording it carefully. "...Maybe later?" His inner struggles caught up with his smile as a lump formed in his throat. He turned his back to them and resumed his pace.

I hate this. Nothing's making sense. Why do I care so much about what happens to him? I've tried to kill him before, and and would now, without regret.

Why am I...

....worried for him?

A horrible blur of black, white and red flew past his mind's eye. Visions came one by one: bloody pipes, metal slag, a burning scream, jagged nails, a wall of sharpened metal stakes, claws digging into their owner's flesh, crying, screaming, endless black nights and red days...

The dream. That was why he was here, that was why he was...

"Uh, Se-Sesshoumaru?" It was the miko. He glared at her. "Are you, uh, alright?"

Abruptly the demon lord realized he had stopped moving and was squeezing his torso where his arm would have hung, wrapping his fingers tightly around his ribs. He was halfway bent over.

Sesshoumaru immediately dropped the hand, straightening. "I'm...fine... Let's keep moving," he said roughly, shaking his head in one violent snap.

I've got to help him. None of it matters now, I just can't let
this happen to him...

...I'm sorry, mother. Forgive me.




Tsuzuku...
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Sorry you guys. This is another idea popped up that just couldn't be ignored. I'll see if I have motivation to update my other three unfinished fics...I think this one may get updated more often though...^^

Okay, this is my first Inuyasha fic, let me know if it sucks. And yes, this is a torture fic, but 2/3rds of the writing is gonna be about his rehabilitation. Should be really cute, lots of big-brother-little-brother cuteness gonna happen. Hope ya like it!

No, this is not a Sess/Kag fic. I'm an Inu/Kag fan all the way.
No, there is no yaoi, I have never and will not ever write a yaoi or lemon.
Just FYI! ^_^X

Anyway, please review. I'm having such a hard time getting fanfics out nowadays, I'm really behind on school.

Jaa! Lemme know if I suck or not!
Later!