Title: Searching his soul, finding his heart

Authoress: Ladya C. Maxine

Rating: R

Summary: see chapter one

Warning(s): see chapter one

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of its characters. Any and all unrecognizable characters belong solely to me. I am not making any money off of this and I write with the sole intention to entertain.

-------------------------------------------------

Kouga scowled. True; he and his pack were not the most hygienically aware beings walking these lands. However, being covered in dust was not something he enjoyed very much. The accompanying bruises and scratches just added the final layer of insult.

"I know you are hurting! Don't pretend otherwise!" he shouted to the silent figure that walked some feet ahead of him.

The last battle had been somewhat more even since he knew a bit more of this youkai's fighting style. Emphasis on a bit.

Of course he hadn't caught the dog demon unaware with his lunge. If anything, the other had seemed to have been expecting it, pivoting and, using the wolf's momentum against him, send him crashing into a tree across the path. Down but far from out, he had focused all his wits and speed; something he rarely did as he had never had such an experienced opponent.

It had been with some satisfaction that he had caught the golden-eyed demon, slicing through a large sleeve to make a moderate groove in a bicep. The scent of blood drove them both to a more carnal nature. They had moved with such speed that they almost vanished from sight.

Kouga couldn't help smirking. No doubt the dog demon had never met an opponent who had lasted this long. Having felt a bit too confident, he had gifted the silent fighter with one of his most sneering smirks.

"Same old, same old! You are going to have to do better than that, dog! Guess none of you mutts is a match for a wolf!" he had shouted, just barely dodging a well-placed strike.

If the 'wolf' had had white hair and golden eyes Sesshoumaru would have sworn he had been fighting the half-breed; pompous, simple, and strategically blind.

'What the...?' Kouga had thought when a clawed hand began to glow with green flames. 'That can't be good.'

Deciding to end this before the White One gathered whatever freakish power he had, Kouga had began to charge, meaning to take this youkai out with a single blow. Blue eyes had widened to saucers when, with a hellacious hissing sound, a wide spray of something exploded from the clawed nails. His subconscious mind had shouted at him to duck, despite him not knowing what the liquid was. Dropping low, he had felt the draft of the spray fly over him, splattering on the trees behind him. Raising his head, he had grinned victoriously.

"Watcha trying to do? Drown me?"

The White One had remained silent and Kouga's smirk faded when a scent and a sound caught his senses. Looking behind him he could do nothing but watch as the liquid ate away the trees, burning their bark at astonishing rate. Smoke rose from the destroyed wood and the trees began to creak as they weakened. The scent of what could only be acidy poison actually made his eyes water.

"Oh shit..." he had breathed.

With a thunderous noise the trees had begun to fall, the acid having eaten the trunks completely. Had it not been for his agility Kouga would have been crushed as they came down on him. After many ducks, jumps and rolls, the last tree had fallen and he had stood safely away from the continuously melting heap. The wood turned to ash as the acid burnt it to a crisp. Acid that had been meant for him.

While he had been dodging for his life, the White One had simply walked off, gait as calm as always.

'What type of dog demon has poison attacks?' Kouga kept asking himself.

For his part, Sesshoumaru had expected the wolf to survive the attack however he had also expected the insolent mongrel to take the obvious hint that he was growing tired of him and it was for his best interest if he just returned to whatever hole he had crawled out of.

"You are bleeding! I hurt you too!"

Sesshoumaru ignored the shout, though wondered just what exactly the wolf was trying to prove. So he had indeed managed to 'injure' the Lord of the West; did that make him think that he was someone of great achievements?

Kouga was frustrated. This guy was like a wall! Wasn't there something that would irk him?! At least dog-turd was...more...fun...

A wicked grin stretched across the wolf's handsome face. Ignoring his hurts, he placed his hands behind his head and sauntered over to walk next to the silent demon.

"How's it going?"

No response.

"Nice day to explore your family relations, isn't it?"

Again, silence. So far...

"So how does it feel to be related to a half-breed?"

Aha! A flash in the aurum eyes! But nothing else after that.

Frowning, Kouga dropped his hands to his hips.

"Must be pretty embarrassing. I mean, imagine what other, full-blooded youkai's must think of you."

This wolf was but two feet away from having his head removed from his body.

"Guess your mother ran out of good hormones, huh?" A soft growl went, unfortunately, unheard by Kouga and his next words were said without much thought. "Can't blame her; you probably took whatever energy the poor bitch had left--!!"

His feet were suddenly no longer on the ground, a clawed hand gripping his neck with such force he could barely breathe. Though even without the grip he wouldn't have been able to, seeing that his breath was taken away by the blood-red eyes that glared up at him with a look that dangerously bordered on insanity. Needle sharp canines that looked eager to bury themselves in his throat were revealed when the usually calm youkai spoke up, his deep voice now carrying a wild growl with each word.

"Keep your tongue to yourself unless you want to lose it."

His only response was a glare but he kept silent, wondering if the white-haired youkai was indeed planning on strangling him. At the very last few crucial moments he was released, landing on his feet though he rubbed his aggravated neck. Gasping for lost air, he felt a smile stretch across his face.

"Gotcha gasp at-attention, huh?"

Only two things on this earth irritated Sesshoumaru; the half-breed and Jaken. This wolf was quickly placing himself on that short list.

"Go away," he ordered.

"Excuse me?" Kouga snarled, planting himself in front of the other. "I don't think so. You forget; you're in my domain."

"And you are in my way."

"I can be anywhere I wanna be, got that?! This is my land and what I say goes and if anyone is going then it's you."

The wolf was correct, but the only reason he was in this scrap of forest was for his pup and he was not leaving without her.

Kouga could see the determinism in the oriental eyes and knew another fight was going to go down. Normally he would accept the challenge eagerly but he had to admit, albeit grudged, that this opponent was a more skilled fighter and simply stubborn.

"Alright, new approach," Kouga offered, crossing his arms before his armour. "I am Prince of the Mountain realm; you are, if I recall correctly, Lord of the Western lands, right?"

So far all other tactics had failed and his time was ever running on so Sesshoumaru surrendered his attention to the words.

"Then instead of fighting each other like idiots let's just reach an agreement."

"And what would that be?" he asked, deep voice not betraying his suspicion.

"You tell me what you are doing here and I'll tell you where you can find the specific Silver Plum tree you are looking for."

"My business here is none of your concern."

"Yeah, yeah," Kouga waved it off. "You said that before. However, you look like you really want to find…whatever it is. I really want you gone. See a connection somewhere between there?"

If he hadn't been a purebred Sesshoumaru would have pinched his nose bridge in exasperation but his upbringing had thought him otherwise. Lucky for him, assassination was considered acceptable by aforementioned upbringing. He'd tell the wolf what he needed to know, get the information he needed to know, and then, if the wolf didn't remove its flea-bitten hide from his sight, he'd kill it.

"A possession of mine was taken from me two nights ago, the thieves having used this branch of Silver Plum to intoxicate myself and my companions. Wherever this certain tree is found, my possession is there as well. And I will not leave this realm until I find it."

It was the most he'd heard this demon say in one go. Whatever this 'possession' was, it must be of real importance if it reduced a demon lord of such ranking to searching for the past days. Could it be a Shikon shard?

"Alright. Now my side: my domain, my clan, my responsibility. I really don't trust letting you prance around here unsupervised so this can go two ways: either I personally show you where this damn bush is, and then make sure to kick you icy ass out of my land, or you just tell me what the hell it is you're looking for and then stay on the border while me and my clan look for it."

Neither appealed to him one bit. He truly doubted he could stand any more time with this individual and the idea of putting distance between them sounded simply divine at the moment. However, if there was one person who was going to come to Rin's rescue it was him. The mere thought of her, after such an ordeal, in the paws of a group of raunchy wolves almost made him shiver. Then again, revealing a mere human child to be the object of intense search could prove a fatal blow to his reputation and pride.

No, Rin wasn't a 'mere human child'. She was his human child; his pup who he had come to protect and, yes, he dared admit it, love in one short month. His pup who looked up to him with so much adoration that one would think she believed him to be Buddha. His pup who didn't care for his powers and didn't fear his true nature; only that her Sesshoumaru-sama would allow her to sleep close to him and protect her in the nights.

How ironic; he used to be embarrassed of his father choosing a woman as his second mate. He used to scowl at the half-breed's travel companions (Granted, he used to scowl at the half-breed himself; and still did, for that matter). While he still didn't understand his father and half-brother's romantic and friendly commitment to humans, here he was taking care of a mortal child. Perhaps that was where he differed. The hanyou's friends were capable, by human standard, of taking care of themselves and Izayoi…well, she was doomed from the beginning but his father had loved her.

Rin was small and fragile. Too young to recognize things that only maturity and experience could teach. Until then, she was alone. Her family dead and her people shunning her, she had had no one else to turn to at such a vulnerable age. Perhaps it was this detail that made him want to protect her so much. That and her unexplainable lack of fear towards him which still intrigued him; he would make sure to one day learn exactly why she never saw him as the danger he truly was.

"Did you fall asleep on your feet or something?"

He had tolerated being related to that embarrassment of a hanyou for his father's sake, he'll tolerate being accompanied by this pestilence of a demon for his pup's sake.

"You will show me where it is."

Kouga blinked. He hadn't expected the proud demon to accept that offer. He was now even more curios than ever to discover what it was they were looking for.

"Fine then," he said, squaring his shoulders. A devilish thought crossed his mind and he grinned. "Follow me."

Before the other could respond, though Kouga sincerely doubted he would have, the wolf prince turned and in a burst of energy he hurtled away, leaving the other in the wake of his awesome speed.

Sesshoumaru watched the quickly fading wolf and, knowing he was completely alone, released the long-suffering sigh he had been holding for the past hour. With an almost bored expression, he too began to sprint, quickly gaining ground until the wolf was in view once more before slowing his speed in order to not pass him.

This was going to be a tiresome journey.

Glancing back, Kouga was admittedly surprised to see the white demon but a couple dozen yards behind him, keeping up just fine with what he thought would have been a gruelling pace. Hell, Hakaku and Ginta, who had been running after him for years, were still unable to keep up. Dog-face's brother certainly had more useful tricks up his sleeves.

This was going to be an interesting journey.

Tbc………….

-----------------------------------------------------

Izayoi: Inuyasha's mom. In case anyone doesn't know yet, she is finally named in the third Inuyasha movie (which SO kicks ass!! Sesshy and Inu fight on the same side!!...kinda)

Important!! Check out my bio-page for some big announcements!!

Read & Review, please.