Title: My Brother's Pup
Authoress: Ladya C. Maxine
Summary: see chapter one
Warnings: see chapter one
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of its characters. Any and all unrecognizable characters belong solely to me and are not to be touched. I am not making any money off of this and I write with the sole intent to entertain.
A/N: Hey, would you look at that?? An update! Yay! I'm talking a complete make-over. I rewrote all the chapters. Nothing major, just getting rid of a few glaring typos, and those random Japanese words (oka, oto, etc.) that I've come to hate. I now prefer to stick to one language per fic, with the exception of a few words (like youkai and hanyou, since they are more fitting).
It having been, what, a year, since I last gave this fic some much needed attention, I actually locked myself up in my room (seriously, I did) and wrote this chapter. Meanwhile, it's been revealed in the manga that Sesshoumaru's mother...IS ALIVE!! grrrrrr Too bad, 'cause she's dead in this fic and she won't be coming back.
He stirred at the first knock, opening heavy eyelids. Lying in his bed amongst mountains of quilts and pillows, he still felt every bruise and scrape as he turned onto his side, away from the door. The knocking persisted. He refused to acknowledge it and, when he continued to do so for a long time, the door was carefully opened. He closed his eyes, pretending to be asleep. A mortal stench, trying to hide beneath the fabricated fragrance of flowers, reached his nose.
"Sesshoumaru?" his father's human whispered, tiptoeing over to the bed. He could hear the clicks and clacks of porcelain and silverware.
He didn't reply, listening as she walked around the bed, where she put down the tray and took a seat on the very edge of the bed. Her audacity made him open his eyes to settle a weak glare on her. Much as he'd feared, she smiled sympathetically, sadly: his father had told her what had happened.
"I brought you something…some soup," she said, pulling back her sleeves. On her arm were the scars left by his claws the first time they'd met. "You weren't there for breakfast. You need to keep up your strength."
She picked up the bowl and a spoon and held it out to him in offering. He merely stared at it, not hungry and certainly not about to eat anything she'd touched. After an awkward minute she put them back down on the tray, clearly uncomfortable.
"How are you feeling?" she asked, and almost immediately recanted her question. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry. Stupid question. I'm sure it's…not something I should be…"
Too tired to even hiss at her, Sesshoumaru, with some stiffness and difficulty, turned away and pulled the quilt over his head. Another long silence passed and his sensitive hearing could hear the flesh of her hands rubbing as she wringed them together.
"Do you need to…talk?"
"Would you like me to get your father?"
Why was she hanging around? She wasn't very bright, but it wasn't too hard to read the signs, even for a human. His faith in her simple mind's working was shattered when, to add insult to injury, a hand was placed on his head. The touch almost sent him over the side of the bed, startling the human, who clumsily pulled back, knocking the tray off the table. The porcelain bowl shattered on the floor, splattering hot soup everywhere.
"GET OUT!" Sesshoumaru screamed, stumbling backwards.
"GET OUT! DON'T TOUCH ME! DON'T TALK TO ME! IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!"
"Please, don't be upset—"
"IT'S ALL GONE WRONG BECAUSE OF YOU!! YOU DID THIS!!"
She covered her mouth, then pressed her arms against her chest as she fell to her knees, shaking her head vigorously.
"Never! I would have never wished any of this upon anyone, especially you! I'm so sorry about what happened and when you're father told me I swore I wished that I could have been to slay that monster myself!"
"A monster, like me?! Like my mother?! That's what we are to you humans, aren't we?! Monsters who should be killed! Well, I would rather DIE than accept your help!! Humans can't help! You're no better than that beast in the forest! YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT OTHERS AS LONG AS YOU GET WHAT YOU WANT!! GET AWAY FROM ME!!"
His door burst open. Sesshoumaru immediately backed down as his father stormed into the room, a look of pure wrath on his face. Against his nature, the first person he turned to was Sesshoumaru, who had pressed himself up into a corner, heart pounding: his father had heard him shouting to the woman. Surely, he'd be punished for that.
"Izayoi, leave him alone."
The woman looked beaten, eyes lowered as she got to her feet. His father, however, never even looked at her. Sesshoumaru avoided looking directly into the sharp eyes, but felt them on him nonetheless.
"I didn't mean to upset him, dearest. I just thought…"
"I told you not to disturb him."
Uncomfortable, she shuffled out, shamed. When she placed a hand on his father's arm for reassurance he didn't even blink, continuing to shut her out. Biting her lip, she left, closing the door behind her.
"She touched me," was the first thing Sesshoumaru said once they were alone. "I didn't want her to but she put her hand on my head and she wouldn't go away. She wouldn't go away! She wouldn't leave me alone!"
Breathing hard, he sunk into a small ball, gripping his head, shaking.
"It won't go away…"
"A lord needs to be strong, Sesshoumaru," his father said sternly, but at least he was listening, as opposed to shouting.
"I tried to be strong last night. I fought him, father. I fought him the best I could; I was being as strong as I could…and it didn't matter…Why did he do it, father?"
"Because he was a scum, not worthy of calling himself a youkai. He was a weakling, Sesshoumaru. If you do not get stronger you will end up like him: dead, with no honour to your name. I will not always be there to correct your mistakes so learn from what has happened. Accept that it happened, put it behind you and move on. Get dressed: it's time for your first lesson of the day."
The demon lord stopped, just about to open the door.
"…Is that how you were able to get over mother's death?"
The broad shoulders tensed and he heard his father breathe in deeply, like he was forcing himself to keep calm.
"I dealt with it as best I could. Don't be late for your lesson."
He closed the door firmly behind him and Sesshoumaru dared to get to his feet, still wiping his eyes. He had been thrown off by his father's reply, and the way he'd done so: soft, and with an emotion other than distaste or anger.
"Dealt with it as best you could…Maybe it'd be for the best…if you just forgot her, father…" he thought out loud. "Maybe then, it wouldn't hurt you so much…"
He started to remove his night clothes but the large space of his room made him feel very vulnerable. Closing the drapes, he gathered his fresh clothes and hurried into the smaller washroom, locking the door behind him. Only then did he feel safe enough to change, though he did so quickly, no longer comfortable with his body.
He hadn't been looking forward to facing the day, and certainly not other people, but he saw almost no one that day, save for his tutors. While walking from one class to the next, he'd spotted the vanished hems of robes into side rooms or heard feet quickly turning right around and hurrying away before he caught sight of the person. His tutors were also acting differently.
"No," Ryuurio said patiently, his forked tongue flickering harmlessly as he shook his head. "That answer is incorrect. Try again."
"The Battle of the Bloods lasted…from 344 till 444."
"Good. Next question…"
He'd made it through the entire lesson without drawing one scathing remark from the snake youkai, and Ryuurio accepted his half-finished report with little fuss, issuing no punishment for failing to complete the assignment.
All three of the planned combat classes had been cancelled, replaced by extra study time that didn't require any physical contact between him and any adults.
By the end of the day, Sesshoumaru felt mortified.
How many knew about what had happened? Had that woman gone and told everyone how his father had found him, defeated and crying after his grand escape last night? Was that why everyone was avoiding him, like a plague? Were they disgusted? Or did they pity him?
At least the woman had obeyed his father and had left him alone for the rest of the day. Sesshoumaru hoped she'd keep away for the rest of her life.
He hadn't had a free evening to himself in months; he'd been informed by his last teacher that his night classes had been cancelled as well. He was secretly very glad; he wanted to be back in his room, under his covers. And he was very tired as well, having slept badly the night before and that morning as well.
A cry broke through his thoughts. It had come just around the corner ahead of him, in the narrow space created by two buildings. Human brats usually used these alleys for their ridiculous games of running and hiding, while giggling loudly, which was the worse hunting technique Sesshoumaru had ever witnessed.
This cry was different, however. It wasn't playful, but pained. Terrified. And the air was choked with the pungent smell of fear. And mingling with that scent was the stench of mixed blood.
Sesshoumaru, for a second, bemoaned being related to the cry baby hanyou, but then an unmistakeable wave of testosterone sent a chill down his spine, though it also spurred him to hurry over, instead of just walking away. He knew what scene awaited just by the scent, but still it brought him to an abrupt halt.
The hanyou, curled around his ball, was cowering in Tsukoyoko's shadow, crying as he tried to shuffle further up the wall, unable to escape either way. The giant male was keeping his renowned booming voice low, its rumbling echoing in Sesshoumaru's chest as he snarled at the hanyou.
"Have you no pride?" he asked the hanyou, his sheathed sword in hand which he was using to roughly poke the tiny head and body; he was avoiding touching the pup with his hands lest he leave behind too much of his incriminating scent. "All that human blood in you; no wonder you're so sensitive. A lowly, snivelling coward, that's what you are."
"I-I'll be brave someday…just like dad…" the hanyou hiccoughed, ears flat in fear, eyes averted.
"You will never be like the great Lord of the Western Lands! Don't you dare even entertain the idea!"
The blunt end of the sheath stabbed the hanyou in his ribs, hard. He twisted on the floor, trying every which way to protect himself, too scared to run, knowing that the adult would catch him in no time.
Partially concealed by the wall, Sesshoumaru looked on as his teacher continued to berate and abuse the half-breed. He had seen the servant mongrels behave in the same way towards the hanyou, and had been disgusted at the pup's inability to stand up for himself.
But this was Tsukoyoko. This was one of the top commanders in his father's army. This was a dragon slayer, and a destroyer of entire demon tribes. This was the warrior who could rip enemies in half with his bare hands, and cause avalanches with his roars. This was…unfair.
The hanyou was shivering so badly he was almost falling apart.
Sesshoumaru knew what that was like, that fear. He'd felt the same way last night, cornered by a brutish adult whose only intent had been to harm him as much as possible, for no good reason. But he'd been saved. His father had come for him; had fought for him.
His father wasn't here right now. The hanyou would either have to pull through a session of pain, or…
Tsukoyoko immediately stepped back as Sesshoumaru approached the miserable scene. The adult's red eyes widened, surprised to see who it was and what he was doing. Glaring, Sesshoumaru planted himself between his teacher and his half-breed sibling.
"S-S-S-Sesshoumaru?" the hanyou whispered, quickly crawling over to wrap his arms around Sesshoumaru's legs, wiping his tears in the white pants.
"Just what do you think you're doing?" Sesshoumaru demanded the adult, ignoring the child.
Tsukoyoko sniffed and pulled his shoulders back, proud and unforgiving.
"Who do you think you're talking to, boy?"
"To an underling of my father, the Lord of the Western Lands. To my social inferior," Sesshoumaru shot back with enough bark to make the other raise both brows, "and, once my father finds out what you've been doing to my brother, a dead man."
In the training room, he had been force to submit himself to the warrior's will, but military rank could never outrank pureblood power.
Still, Tsukoyoko refused to cower before either of them, as they were merely pups.
"Yes," he said with a considering look "the lord would not be pleased of my conduct. After all, whereas he cares little of how I handle you, my prince, he wouldn't hesitate to step in and protect his favourite son. However, I am his best fighter; I am the only one who has the experience needed to get you through the Trials. With me gone, you wouldn't last a day in the fighting ring. So tell me, would it be wise, giving your already uncertain future, to get rid of me? If you fail the Trials, Sesshoumaru, you will be evicted from this palace, and then your father will not bother to come to your rescue deep in those dark woods so late at night."
Sesshoumaru looked away, troubled. Leave, pretend he hadn't seen anything, and have a chance of winning, and thus surviving? Or tell, lose one of his most important sources to success, and be banished into the unforgiving wilderness? That he was even considering both options was bothersome enough. He was considering endangering his life…for the hanyou's sake?
"You leave him alone," he said, going for both and hoping he wouldn't regret either. "You do not come near him again, or even speak to him again. Leave him alone, and I won't tell my father. But if there is one more bruise, one more scratch on him, my father will be informed and your blood will soak the palace grounds. Am I clear?"
Tsukoyoko bowed, but in a mocking way.
"I am indebted to you and your righteousness, my prince. It seems we all should be grateful for your little adventure; it certainly has humbled your pride and shaken your senses."
The adult took his leave with a look that foreshadowed the pain Sesshoumaru could expect in future classes, when the power was back in Tsukoyoko's clawed hands.
"What did he mean? What happened last night, Sesshoumaru?"
"None of your business."
"Is that why you were sick this morning? Mama said you weren't feeling good."
"Just get up and follow me," Sesshoumaru snapped to the hanyou, who got to his feet with many winces and whines. But as soon as he was up the hanyou hugged Sesshoumaru's waist tightly. The older pup tried to withdraw, grimacing. "What are you doing?!"
"You helped me. Again." The hanyou looked up with a tearstained face, smiling. "I'm glad you're my big brother."
"I only did it because I hate him, that's all."
The hanyou could have pointed out that, if that was the only reason, it made no sense then that he hadn't run to their father, eager to have a valid reason to be rid of their bully once and for all. But the whelp was content to tag along with him, back to the palace, without any further questions. Sesshoumaru said nothing about his newly acquired second shadow, not even when they reached his bedroom. The whelp, however, remained in the doorway while Sesshoumaru entered.
"Close to door," Sesshoumaru ordered.
He hadn't told the whelp to leave, and he didn't. Instead, he just stood, looking around with wide eyes as if he'd never seen the inside of a room before. Slipping off his heavier outer robe, Sesshoumaru climbed into his bed, just barely making it to his pillows before collapsing.
A minute later, someone stepped up to stand next to his bed. When he said nothing he felt the mattress dip a bit, then a bit more, and more still as the whelp slowly, cautiously crawled onto the bed. Only when the movements stop did he open his eyes. The whelp was lying facing him, but with a respectable distance between them. That the hanyou was leaving his stench all over his sheets and pillows didn't bother Sesshoumaru as much as he thought it should have.
They lay there silently. Just enjoying the peace in the room, with no one talking to them, or yelling at them, or pushing them around. Well, Sesshoumaru was at ease. The whelp kept shifting, and it was pretty obvious why.
This time they worked without the need of instructions or threats. Sesshoumaru got to his knees and the whelp turned over, pulling up his shirt to expose the offending bruises, including a dark circle right in the middle of his back. He had even less strength this time so Sesshoumaru focused on numbing the pain rather than removing it. Even then, he held back. There, right between the two ears, beneath the white hair, was a lump: the whelp had been struck right on the head. Hard.
"My eyes are funny," the hanyou admitted while Sesshoumaru studied the wound. "Everything's…furry. And I keep hearing something in my ears, but it's getting softer."
Not pleased with this belated revelation, Sesshoumaru forced the other to sit up straight, cupped his hands and, placing them over the lump, poured in as much power as he could gather. He tried not to focus on the lump, but on any inner injuries, wanting to at least slow any failing senses until the whelp's own healing powers were able to sustain him. Completely drained, he sat back. The whelp blinked, trying to clear his vision. The white ears sagged.
"It's still furry…" he said, growing anxious now that he'd seen how much effort Sesshoumaru had put into the injury. "What's wrong with me? Why can't I get better?"
Sesshoumaru, lying back down, turned to face the other way.
"…You're alright," he said. "There's nothing wrong with you."
"Nothing wrong with me? So I'm okay?" asked the small voice behind him. The mattress shifted again. A small face leaned over him, yet, despite the gross invasion of personal space, Sesshoumaru didn't feel threatened. "Will I get better? Will I be better?"
"You're are half-breed," Sesshoumaru said automatically, then added, rethinking his words, "You are…you. I guess…there's nothing bad about being yourself…"
With a clumsy hop, the whelp scrambled over him, bringing them face-to-face again. Sesshoumaru was emotionless, staring off into the space between two pillows.
"Are you staying inside tonight?" the pup asked.
"I have nothing else to do."
"Dad told them that you need to rest."
"Yup. He called everyone, all the servants, this morning. I wasn't supposed to be there but I snuck away while mama was getting dressed. Dad told the servants to leave you alone for a few days, and he told your teachers to keep their voices down during your lessons, and that if they made you sad they'd be in big trouble."
"Father said that?" Sesshoumaru wondered, blinking. "Did he…Did he tell them why?"
"Someone asked why and he only told them that you weren't feeling good. Someone else asked if it had something to do with last night and dad said that it was none of their business and that if anyone tried to find out they'd be in really, really big trouble."
Turning over onto his stomach, Sesshoumaru ran the words through his mind. He didn't know what to think of all that. He didn't feel like thinking, really.
"Why aren't you telling me to go away?" the hanyou asked, trying to smooth out a wrinkle in the sheet with his smallest finger.
"Too tired," Sesshoumaru answered honestly. "I'm too tired to care anymore."
"Maybe you should try sleeping."
"I can't sleep."
The whelp's giggle drew his eyes away from tracing the ceiling down to the big eyes staring at him in amusement.
" Silly, everyone can sleep. It's easy!"
"I can sleep anytime. I fell asleep at dinner once."
"…When?" Sesshoumaru had never heard of that incident, not that he ever kept track of what his half-brother did.
"When mama and me lived in her house. Dad came for dinner, and grandpa was there too, and they kept talking and talking and talking and talking—" He flipped over onto his back, making himself more comfortable. "—and talking and talking and talking, and it was really, really, really boring, and mama was talking to grandma. So I went to sleep."
"Stupid, if you'd listened you might have actually learned something to fill your empty head," Sesshoumaru quickly quipped, though without his usual patronizing tone.
"…Soggy cakes are yucky."
What…? Sesshoumaru didn't even bother asking out loud; he just looked at the other imploringly.
"I fell asleep and knocked over my tea on the cakes and we all had to eat soggy cake because otherwise grandpa would have been angry. But sleeping is super easy to do! Watch me."
Settling down, knees drawn up to his chest and head resting on folded arms, the hanyou went silent for a long time.
"What are you doing?"
Slowly, the whelp's eyes started to droop. A minute later, he yawned.
"See?" he smiled, nestling in even further. "Everyone can…sleep…It's…really…easy and…you…you…"
Sesshoumaru raised his head. Had the hanyou just fallen asleep on him? In his bed?
He reached out with the intent to shake him awake, but stopped just short of actually touching him. The hanyou didn't stir, peaceful and content as he was. Sighing, Sesshoumaru studied his new bed mate. The pup was smaller than he first thought, he only just realized. And his hands and feet were clawed. And even as he slept, the triangular ears twitched at the faintest sound.
With slow hesitance, Sesshoumaru reached out a hand. Making sure the pup was fast asleep, he lightly touched one of the ears with the tip of his finger. It flicked at first, but when he tried a second time it lowered, allowing him to touch it. The fur covering the ear was soft, and downy.
Pulling away, Sesshoumaru settled with just staring at the sleeping form. Somehow, the pup's method seemed to be working: his eyes were beginning to droop. The last thing Sesshoumaru saw before falling into some much needed sleep was his younger sibling smile, deep in dreams.
A/N: well, this chapter ended on a slightly better note than the last one. I call that progress.
Read & Review, please.