All right! No more break time for me! I'm getting my butt into gear, I swear!
..College and this is going to kill me, I hope you people know. >.>;;;

--

Sesshômaru was stomping about in a fury. Of course it wasn't natural for him to do such a thing, but with the events that had been continuing relentlessly these past couple of days, he found there wasn't much else to do other than stomp huffily. It didn't matter where he stomped—he found it quite effective just to travel around in a circle. In fact, the only problem with his new and rather enjoyable habit was the toad-like creature that insisted on following him. He had intended for this stomping to be a private sport.

"Jaken," Sesshômaru growled, finally halting. It was the fifteenth time he had completed the circle without a break. Jaken, the toady creature, collapsed with relief on top of his horrendous, two headed staff.

"Y-yes, Lord Sesshômaru?"

"How in the seven hells did you miss a demon who has been stuck to a forsaken tree for fifty years?" His voice was surprisingly calm. All the stomping did seem to vent his anger, thankfully for Jaken. He didn't fancy being slaughtered.

"Well, ah, sir, it seems as if he had escaped from the tree a week before predicted. That's all I could get out from the old crone before she cursed me and my entire family line before she kicked me out," Jaken finished bitterly. Sometimes he didn't like working for Lord Sesshômaru.

"And have there been any sightings?" Sesshômaru persisted. His expression was mild but Jaken had learned long ago not to trust what he saw. The unfortunate thing was that Sesshômaru always looked mild, even when he was really mad or really happy.

"No, sir," Jaken finally muttered weakly. Sesshômaru may not show his emotions, but this was something that anyone in the dog-demon's position would get irritated about.

"And you are positive he has the grave," Sesshômaru continued ruthlessly. Jaken found himself trembling.

"Yes, sir."

There was a long silence in which Sesshômaru seemed to be puzzling out many things in his mind. He sighed, took a deep breath, then sighed again.

"What use is hired help if you have to do all the work yourself?" And, almost as if he was deciding to take his sport out side the circle, he began stomping off in no particular direction. Jaken lay immobile for a long moment before scrambling to his feet.

"Wait, Lord Sesshômaru!"

Musei
Chapter Three: Brother Dearest, part one
By Clara


Sesshômaru, quite accidentally, happened across the motley group a scant three days after his departure. It was such an accident that the two brothers walked right past each other before they both halted at the same time, equally bewildered. Instantly, they were facing each other.

"You know," Sesshômaru began conversationally, "I was just looking for you."

"Funny," Inuyasha responded, just as conversationally, "I was just avoiding you."

His dark haired companion was watching them intensely. She had situated herself quite safely behind Inuyasha, which of course was extremely interesting to Sesshômaru.

"Interesting how things work out. I see you have taken to traveling with your own kind," Sesshômaru continued, examining the girl. She was rather pretty, if not a bit fierce looking. "Human filth."

Of course, the girl bristled and, imperceptibly to the human eye, Inuyasha inched closer to the girl. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the viewpoint you come from), Sesshômaru didn't have human eyes. He smirked. So the human was his little brother's weak point.

Well.

Faster than humanly possible, Sesshômaru was behind Kagome with his claws at her neck. To his surprise, she didn't make a sound. A bit too late Inuyasha noticed his brother was gone and whirled around, eyes widening when he saw where the older man was. The half demon locked eyes with the girl, expression unreadable.

"You see, brother, I've been traveling a long time with this toad here," Sesshômaru said, gesturing to the slightly offended and considerably forgotten Jaken. "A very long time. And I know you know what I've been looking for."

Inuyasha watched Sesshômaru's claws intently, barely listening to what he was saying.

"Give me the grave or I'll kill the girl."

"And what do I care about the girl?" Inuyasha asked flippantly, but his eyes were darting around in a desperate search for a way to save Kagome.

"Oh, you care plenty." He drew the scarf away from Kagome's neck and dropped it to the ground. Kagome grimaced and Inuyasha's eyes were immediately drawn to her neck.

It was as if someone with very long claws had tried to slice off the poor girl's head a very long time ago, and Sesshômaru was making it worse by threatening to finish the job. For some reason, that ignited the rather protective side of Inuyasha. His eyes flared with a horrible type of fury.

How interesting..

"If I.." Inuyasha began, his voice grating out in an almost unintelligible growl. He cleared his throat and tried again, keeping his gaze leveled with Kagome's tear-filled one. "If I let you have the stupid grave, then you must promise to never, ever harm that girl in your arms.. or to kill her, or to hurt her, or to have anyone else under your word harm, kill, or hurt her in anyway way. Once I give you the grave, you can never touch her unless to help."

All of them stared, quite justifiably, at Inuyasha for his demands. Kagome looked a little put out. She wasn't fond of being manhandled.

"You have quite some nerve, brother.." Sesshômaru began, but was halted with a piercing look.

"Promise me, on your honor as a demon, or you will never lay a finger on our father's grave."

The two stared at each other for what felt like eons for all the members of the party. Finally, Sesshômaru gave a slight inclination of the head.

"I promise you, on my honor as a demon," Sesshômaru let her go and gently pushed her forward, "that I will never hurt, kill or harm the girl in any way, and will never have anyone hurt, kill or harm her in any way. And I will never touch unless it is to help her."

They stared at each other again for an even longer time before, Sesshômaru's face entirely blank. They all knew, however, that he was just bristling with fury. No one ordered the great Sesshômaru around.

At last, Inuyasha nodded.

"It is in my left eye.

There was a beat of silence, then several things happened at once.

Jaken leapt at Inuyasha. "How dare you lie to my Lord Sesshômaru?!"

Kagome lifted her hands to cover a silent gasp.

Sesshômaru raised his eyebrows. "Your left eye? Ingenious." He paused. "Since when did I become 'your' Lord Sesshômaru?"

Inuyasha side-stepped the airborne toad.

"But it makes perfect sense. 'Cannot be seen by the holder'. Father left you with the knowledge of the whereabouts, did he? That I find rather odd."

"I suppose he did it to help me keep it away from assholes like you."

Somewhere behind Inuyasha, there was a muffled, "Don't speak to Lord Sesshômaru like that!" It was ignored.

"Pity you are a failure, then." With the same speed he used to catch Kagome, Sesshômaru placed himself in front of Inuyasha. "Oh well, you most certainly did not deserve the inheritance, anyway." And with that, Sesshômaru jammed his forefinger and middle finger into his brother's eye. Once again, he was disappointed with the lack of response at his actions. However, such petty thoughts were banished as he yanked a small black pearl from Inuyasha's eye triumphantly. He dropped his younger brother and Inuyasha sunk to the ground in pain, one hand securely over his eye. The silent girl rushed to his side and before he could regret striking such a deal with Sesshômaru (he rather liked having his eye intact), Kagome had her arms wrapped around him.

"Finally," Sesshômaru hissed, whirling back to face Jaken. "Jaken!"

"Yes, Lord Sesshômaru!" The toad took the pearl from Sesshômaru's hand and set it on the ground, placing the end of the forgotten staff on the bead with a clink. To Kagome's horror, one of the heads began to cackle.

"It is the one, Lord Sesshômaru!" Jaken crowed, and a portal opened over the bead. A small smile graced Sesshômaru's lips and he stepped through, Jaken following like a faithful puppy.

Kagome's face twisted with vehemence. Human! Ha! As if he's sooo much better than me for being a dog!

"Inuyasha!" a miniscule voice squeaked. Kagome and Inuyasha turned to look at Myoga. He was perched atop Inuyasha's knee. "You must go after him! He cannot get his hands on the Tetsusaiga!"

"Ow," Inuyasha responded, pushing himself to his feet. "Coward. Showing up only when Sesshômaru left." He sighed and shoved his fingers into his bangs. "Kagome, you wait.. eh? Kagome?"

The dark haired girl was waiting impatiently for him with one foot in the portal.

"You.." Inuyasha said, appraising her, "are the weirdest girl I have ever met."

And they went through the portal.

Kagome noticed, quite irritably, that she wanted to scream more and more often. This was one of those times. She also noticed that she was traveling through way too many portals that lead her to shocking places too many times to be considered normal. Her current destination, for instance, was approaching her at a stomach-twisting rate. Before she could curse any deity that came to mind, however, she was snagged by Inuyasha. Of course, this would have been quite worthless if he hadn't landed on the back of a large, flying bird carcass.

Ahead of them was a humongous skeleton of a dog. To give one an idea of just how big this skeleton was, the smallest tooth in its mouth was easily three times as tall as Inuyasha.

Kagome stared at it for a long time, then turned to look at her white-haired companion.

"Yup. That's Dad. Can't you see the resemblance?"

The bird carcass flew into the mouth of Inuyasha's father, alternately setting them down somewhere in the skeleton's stomach and saving Kagome from having to answer Inuyasha's preposterous question. Not that she would have been able to give much of one.

"Ah, little brother, you came. I was waiting for you." Sesshômaru was standing behind a brittle looking sword, looking smug. "I wanted you to be the first to witness the magnificence of the Tetsusaiga."

"How touching," Inuyasha said sarcastically. His eye was already starting to heal, but the pupil and iris were so clouded that it was obvious he couldn't see much out of it. Kagome, however, marveled at the speed he healed and decided to bug him when he wasn't about to either a, get his but kicked by Sesshômaru, or b, kick Sesshômaru's butt. You know, whichever happened first.

Sesshômaru smiled benignly at him and placed a hand around the Tetsusaiga's hilt, obviously intending to yank it out. However, just as Inuyasha shoved Kagome behind him and fell to a crouching position, sparks of electricity wrapped around Sesshômaru's hand and forced him back several steps.

The audience blinked.

"Impressive, brother," Inuyasha snickered quite caustically. Sesshômaru frowned.

"Sarcasm doesn't suit you," he said, then sighed. "I suppose I'll just have to kill you. Then this journey won't have been a total waste.."

Inuyasha grinned dangerously, shoved Kagome a safe distance away, and crouched into a battle stance.

"Now you're speaking my language." And, quite brashly, Inuyasha lunged at the older man. He swung his claws in a wide (and easy to dodge) arc, intending to slice his brother in half. All he got was a lock of white hair as Sesshômaru dodged, bare feet hardly disturbing the many skulls under them. Inuyasha, like a raging bull, broke everything that got in his way.

"Face it, little brother. You're much too slow for me," Sesshômaru mocked, dodging another flurry of blows Inuyasha attempted to rain down on him. With what looked like just a flick of his wrist, Sesshômaru sent Inuyasha across their father's stomach. Inuyasha flipped several times in midair, his hand reaching up to clutch the side of his face—three bleeding stripes decorated his cheek. When he landed, he skidded several feet and scattered dozens of skulls before he came to a stop by the rusty sword. It stood in silence as Inuyasha slowly turned to it.

"Inuyasha!" Myoga called. "Pull the sword!"

The half-demon stood, swaying slightly. He was still staring at the sword.

"This old thing?" he asked, turning to glance at Myoga. The flea was hopping up and down frantically on Kagome's shoulder, who was standing a safe distance away beside Jaken.

"Don't be stupid," Jaken sneered. "If Lord Sesshômaru can't pull the sword out, no one can!"

Kagome grabbed Jaken's staff and conked him a good one with it.

"Trust me, Inuyasha, you can do it! Your father left the sword as an inheritance to you not Sesshômaru! Besides," Myoga floundered when he saw Inuyasha still looked like he didn't care much, "imagine Sesshômaru's face when you pull it out when he can't."

This seemed to convince Inuyasha more than anything else Myoga had said and he started for the sword. Sesshômaru neither did nor said nothing, merely watching with his hands in his sleeves.

The sword, like it did to Sesshômaru, turned Inuyasha down.

"Shit," Myoga muttered and Kagome, wearing an extremely put upon look, squashed the old bug.

"This is getting boring, Inuyasha," Sesshômaru drawled.

"What, am I supposed to entertain you?" Inuyasha spun around, not at all put out that the sword rejected him. "Fine. Here's a piece I'd like call.." he lunged again, grinning in such a way that would send a normal man running, "..Eat Dirt, Asshole!"

Kagome grinned, then grinned wider when Jaken attempted to touch the sword and ended up several feet across the stomach, charred and swirly eyed.

It seemed as if Inuyasha was able to pick up some of his brother's moves because instead of merely flailing about like he appeared to be doing earlier, he actually managed to get a strike in. As if by magic, another stripe was added to Sesshômaru's six other ones. The both leapt back, studying each other with calculating eyes: Inuyasha trying to find a weakness and Sesshômaru with a bit more respect.

"You're a quick learner, Inuyasha. Too bad you have to die." He dashed towards Inuyasha, forcing the younger boy to retreat. "Now."

Inuyasha! Not thinking much else, Kagome lunged towards her white haired companion, grabbing the nearest thing she thought could be used as a weapon and yanking it to her side.

There was a resounding clang as the sword came free from its resting place, causing both men to freeze in their tracks and Myoga to fall off Kagome's shoulder.

Embarrassed, Kagome looked back and forth at each brother's face.

Whoops.

Inuyasha bound towards her and gave her a hard look. "How," he said evenly as she handed him the sword, "did you do that?"

She shrugged and tried her best innocent look and was returned with an extremely dry one. Inuyasha shook his head slowly and turned towards Sesshômaru, quite surprised to see his brother wearing a bemused expression.

"It makes perfect sense," Sesshômaru said. "After all, father was a human lover. Very well." His eyes shown red and his delicate features twisted. As he walked towards Inuyasha, his human form elongated and writhed. "I will just have to kill you in my true form." The humanoid form collapsed completely, leaving in his wake a dog the size of a large house. It growled menacingly and succeeded in scaring the hell out of Kagome. Inuyasha, however, clenched his teeth together and swung the battered sword as hard as he could against Sesshômaru's chest. It was like a toddler swinging a waffle bat against a brick wall.

"Fuck," Inuyasha growled, leaping back. It was a good thing he did, too, because Sesshômaru's paw demolished the skulls where his brother was standing a second later. Inuyasha pivoted, leapt to the air, and swung the sword down as if attempting to chop off Sesshômaru's snout. The rickety sword bounced harmlessly off.

The situation seemed impossible. Inuyasha weighed the options in his mind, then was distracted by Kagome ruthlessly beating Jaken over the head with his own staff.

He leapt towards her, giving her quite the shock and nearly getting himself brained in the process. He gave her a flat look.

"Kagome, let's get out of here. I can survive Sesshômaru in this form, but you don't stand a chance."

Stubbornly, Kagome shook her head. She handed him a note that she had written earlier.

'So you're going to give up?'

"NO! Of course not! Don't be an idiot." He glared at her, then sighed. "Damnit, don't look at me like that, either. Of course I'm going to protect you."

As he turned around, he noticed another note he had overlooked.

'I believe in you.'

He smiled and tucked the note into his shirt, then stared resolutely up at Sesshômaru. The demon gave him a doggy grin and Inuyasha froze.

"A.. heartbeat?"

He glanced at the sword for a second, but that was all the time Sesshômaru needed. Suddenly, the large dog was on top of him, obscuring Inuyasha from the bystander's view. A rather battered Jaken cheered and Jaken gasped.

"Poor Inuyasha," Myoga mourned, shaking his small head.

There was a beat of silence, then it was as if Sesshômaru's front leg disconnected from his body. Inuyasha, holding a very much transformed, gleaming Tetsusaiga over his head, panted and grinned as Sesshômaru howled. The humanoid of the two was dyed completely red with Sesshômaru's blood.

"Well, brother, you were right. This is one hell of an inheritance." Inuyasha grinned broadly, teeth startling white against his bloody face. Sesshômaru, knowing defeat when it slapped him across the face, turned heel and fled. Jaken just managed to grab onto his tail.

As soon as Sesshômaru disappeared, Inuyasha collapsed. He almost made it to the ground, but Kagome caught him. He grinned at her worried eyes.

"Tolja I'd protect you."

*

Back at the village Kagome fretted fitfully over an irritated Inuyasha. Although most of the blood had been Sesshômaru's, Inuyasha was still littered with several wounds.

"Oi, woman, for the hundredth time already! I'm all right!" Inuyasha growled, trying to push her away but unwilling to exude such energy. She scowled at him and put her hands on her hips. "Look, all I need is a little sleep."

With that, he jumped into a tree and left her along. She huffed silently. Well. If he felt that way, she would just go home! Yeah, and get a first-aid kit!

Her cheerful gait faltered suddenly as a wave of guilt washed over her. That was the first time she had thought of her home, and it was only because she wanted to get a couple of band-aids and disinfectants.

Oh hell, Mom is probably worried sick. She started briskly towards the well. Gods, I don't know if I can even get home!

She didn't even slow down when she heard Inuyasha land lightly beside her.

"Where are you going?" he asked casually, trying to sound as if he wasn't really curious. Kagome didn't stop walking while she wrote.

'Home.'

"Oh," Inuyasha said, still conversationally. "Where's that?"

'Through the well, roughly 500 years in the future.'

"Oh," Inuyasha said again. He paused and looked surprised. "Really?"

Kagome nodded and Inuyasha frowned.

"Well, how long are you going to be there?"

This time it was Kagome's turn to pause. She seemed to think for a long time before she wrote.

'Uh, for good?'

Well. Inuyasha decided rather quickly that he disagreed strongly with that statement. He leapt in front of her and crossed his arms over his chest, becoming quite the sufficient road block.

"No way."

Kagome glared at him and started to write quickly. 'Look, Inuyasha. I had a life before this and I'm not about to drop it to hunt for a broken jewel.'

"That you broke," Inuyasha reminded, causing her to grimace.

'I'll be back, I swear.'

"One day."

'Three.'

"One and a half and that's final, or else I'm coming back to get you."

Kagome gave him a bleak look, then trudged around him towards her original destination. He followed doggedly, scrunching his nose.

When the got to the well Kagome shot him another bleak look. The prospect of going home, eating a real meal, taking a real shower, sleeping on a real bed and getting out of her real dirty clothing was beginning to sound more and more appealing. The only thing that was making her regret going was the stony hurt puppy look Inuyasha was giving her. She smiled fondly at him and reached over to momentarily touch his face. And then she was gone.

Inuyasha peered into the well, hoping beyond hope he would see her sulkily standing at the bottom. She wasn't, and he sighed and sat on the edge of the well. He would sit there until she came back if he had to.

He still needed to ask her about those scars.

*

Sota, Grandpa and Mother routinely visited the well to see if Kagome would appear. Surprisingly, none of them were particularly worried about her. Kagome was a strong girl, despite her handicap. If anyone decided to bother her on the other side of that well, Kagome was sure to raise hell for them.

What astounded them when they got to the well that day, however, was the haggard, bloody, and exhausted looking Kagome standing at the door of the well house.

[Hi,] she signed, smiling grimly at their horrified expression. [You won't believe what happened to me.]

And, as if following a script, Sota, Grandpa and Mother gathered the now crying Kagome into a tight hug.

*

Ten minutes into the waiting for Kagome to return, a young monk walked by Inuyasha. Curious, the monk walked by him again. Apparently not satisfied, he walked past Inuyasha one more time.

"What the hell do you think you're doing, monk?!" Inuyasha growled, quite fed up with being circled. The monk grinned easily.

"Tell me, are you the demon who was trapped to the Go-Shin-Boku for fifty years?" the monk asked cheerfully, leaning on his staff. He was draped in purple and black robes and had, quite curiously, prayer beads wrapped around one of his hands.

"Yeah. And?" Inuyasha was still growling and was now very much on guardl.

"Wonderful! Where's the girl?" The monk looked around eagerly. Too eagerly for Inuyasha's taste.

"Not here right now."

The staff seemed to 'slip' from the monk's hand and 'land' on Inuyasha's head. Gone was the cheerful little smile.

"Ow!" Inuyasha yelped, clutching his head. His ears were flattened. "What was that for?!"

"You scared her away, didn't you?" the monk accused, staff securely back in his hand.

"No! She just went home for a couple of days!" Inuyasha growled. "Who the hell do you think you are?!"

"Ah, pity. I don't have a couple of days." The monk's face fell slightly. It brightened again, though, fairly quickly. "My name's Miroku. Do tell her I need to speak to her, though. Now, however, I must talk to the head lady of your village and then prepare. We will see each other again, Inuyasha."

And then he was gone, leaving Inuyasha with a sore head and wondering why he didn't flatten the monk for whapping him.

*

The general feeling at Kagome's house was that her day and a half back home went by much too quickly. They agreed, though, that there was no way they could keep her at the current time when there was so much happening in the past. This, of course, as time travel tends to do, arose much confusion in the proper verb tense to use when speaking of Kagome's excursions. How could they talk about things that were about to happen when those same things already happened? Of course, all that wondering succeeded in doing was give Kagome a headache.

But nonetheless, when her day and a half vacation was over, it ended with a bang.

Her watch told her it was 11:45, meaning she had fifteen minutes to double check her supplies. Water bottles (three, to be exact)—check. Pot to boil water in when her water supply ran out—check. Half a dozen packets of instant ramen—check. Several changes of clothing—check. Hairbrush, toothpaste, toothbrush (she actually brought two, deciding to introduce Inuyasha to the concept of brushing teeth), razor, towel, etc.—check. Pillow and sleeping bag—check. All her missing homework—check. First-aid kit—check. Pens and pencils—che..

"That's quite a startling array of supplies you've got there for someone who has pneumonia," Yuka quite unfairly interrupted, nearly causing Kagome to topple over in shock. She whirled around, eyes meeting her bemused cousin's guiltily.

[Yuka! What are you doing here?] Kagome signed frantically, shooting a glance at her watch. Five minutes to twelve.

"Just coming by to see why my favorite cousin never goes to school anymore and always seems to be sick. I even brought you some chicken soup." Yuka paused, appraising her cousin. "Though it doesn't look like you need it. Looks more like you're going to be roughing it in the well for a couple of weeks."

Yuka was the only person Kagome could fairly call a friend. The two had been together since the moment they were born, each finding an adventurous kinship in the other that made them closer if possible. And they were always there for each other. Kagome was there when Yuka's mother and Kagome's only aunt (by marriage) had been diagnosed with leukemia and later died. Yuka was there when Kagome's father was killed in a car accident. She was also there when they found Kagome in an ally barely hanging onto her life, and cried with the girl when they found out she would never speak again. She was there to yell at her peers for bullying Kagome for her handicap. He, Yuka was always there for Kagome and the two of them shared everything.

So one could imagine how guilty Kagome felt when she realized she hadn't sought out her friend to share this amazing secret.

[It's a long story,] she signed uselessly, once again glancing at her watch. A minute had passed.

"I've got time," Yuka responded, watching Kagome shrewdly.

[I don't.] Kagome shot her cousin a pleading, helpless look. More than anything she wished Yuka would drop it.

Of course, she didn't. Instead, her shrewd look became worried.

"Is there someone after you? Is that why you're hiding in the well?"

As plausible as this conclusion was, it was even more ridiculous. [Of course not,] Kagome signed, now not even bothering to take her eyes off her watch. [Look, I promise to tell you everything later..]

"And leave me to worry about you while you're gone? I don't think so." Yuka walked towards Kagome, and consequently towards the well, and even more consequently on top of a bone. Letting out a cry of surprise, Yuka slipped and tumbled, hands stretched out in front of her..

..right into the well.

SHIT!

.:end chapter three:.

It should be fairly obvious why I sent Yuka back in time. If you can't figure it out, it's mainly because Kagome obviously needs someone who can understand/speak sign-language, otherwise life would become near impossible for the poor mute girl as time went on.

To answer some reviews—Inuyasha WOULD only be about twenty to thirty feet from the ground if he leapt onto one of the branches of a tree. The entire height of the tree is about a hundred feet from the ground, whereas some of the lower branches are about twenty to thirty feet. The convenience for the whistle—well, the prayer beads in general were pretty convenient, weren't they? Anyway.. yeah. @@ Thanks for pointing these things out. I'm sorry it took me so long to update but.. well, life happens.