Okay, is very late, and Jax is very tired. He has work in the morning, so no comments for you.

Thanks for reviewses, and I love you all, blah, blah, blah.

Update on Hanyou coming soon.

I hope.

Here you go.

Steel hissed across steel like twin snakes, blows snapping back and forth as InuYasha and his half brother lashed at each other. Sesshoumaru was, if anything, even faster than InuYasha remembered, relentless in his battering. The hanyou quickly found himself getting driven backwards through the trees. His leg was burning, too, even within the first few seconds of the fight, and he could feel sticky warmth running down his half. He must have torn it open again.

Sesshoumaru flicked out with his wide blade, the blade sneaking under InuYasha's defense and lashing lightly across his chest, drawing a line of red through both layers of clothing and into his flesh.

Shit! He fell back, bracing himself against a tree, and caught the tai-youkai's next blow on the Tetsusaiga's diminutive crossbar, locking it there with his free hand.

"Not bad…" he grated out, voice strained.

He was met with a smooth, subtle smile. "Is there something wrong, InuYasha?" Sesshoumaru queried. "You've abandoned your normal strategy of swinging wildly at me. You've yet to even transform your sword." The tai-youkai began steadily applying pressure on his blade, forcing InuYasha's sword down.

"Keh," InuYasha spat. "I don't need to transform it to beat the shit out of you, bastard."

"I see," Sesshoumaru murmured, and shoved the Tetsusaiga aside, beginning his shoulder up into InuYasha's face as he did so.

Spitting blood, the half demon recovered from the blow, and lashed forward, bringing the Tetsusaiga's hilt down on the top of Sesshoumaru's head as hard as he could. "Talk, Sesshoumaru," he demanded. "If Menomaru is back, why the hell are you going after me?"

Scowling, InuYasha's brother lashed out with his light whip, leaving two burning marks across InuYasha's cheeks. "The Tetsusaiga…"

"Bullshit," InuYasha swore, lashing out with his claws this time, barely missing his target. "You could give that bastard a run for his money back when we were kids. You don't need the Tetsusaiga to take him down, so don't give me that crap."

"You are right…" Sesshoumaru murmured, dancing away. "I have no need of the sword. It is Menomaru who is after the blade."

Menomaru? With the Tetsusaiga? That pissed him off more than Sesshoumaru trying to get the damn sword. "Why the hell does he want it?"

Sesshoumaru scowled. "Our father's fang seals his father's body. He seeks out another fang to break the seal."

InuYasha felt his blood chill. "He wants to unseal Hyoga?" he yelled.

"Rather than hand him what he wants, I will take the Tetsusaiga, and keep it from him."

InuYasha spat, and charged. "What makes you think you'd protect it better'n I would, huh?" he demanded with a mighty downward swing.

Sesshoumaru sidestepped, and lashed out with a soft-booted foot, kicking InuYasha hard enough to imbed his frame in a tree twenty feet away. "You expect me to trust you with our enemy's desire, when you cannot even protect yourself?"

The hanyou dropped from the tree, breathing hard. His leg was really starting to kill. "Try me," he roared, rolling to his feet and once again charging with the Tetsusaiga upraised.

Sesshoumaru shook his head, and raised his own blade to find off the attack. Whatever the tai youkai had been expecting his brother to do, it wasn't what happened. InuYasha suddenly changed the way he was holding his sword ever so slightly, and brought it down in a lightning quick chopping motion, knocking Sesshoumaru's own blade well out of the way, then reversed his grip to the blade and pressed the hilt up against Sesshoumaru's face.

Almost as soon as the ragged cloth wrapped wood touched down, the anti-youkai enchantment kicked in, crackling into the tai-youkai's smooth cheek.

Sesshoumaru recoiled instantly, jerking away with a low growl.

Even as he recovered, InuYasha started whirling, willing the Tetsusaiga into its titanic true form, and swinging it in an arc that could have taken Sesshoumaru's head off. InuYasha's brother barely had time to react, dropping low, below the swing, and bringing a heavy fist into the hanyou's gut.

"Was that an actual attempt at swordplay, InuYasha?" Sesshoumaru murmured, standing tall as the hanyou doubled over, sputtering. "I am impressed. You always seemed below such things."

InuYasha spat another gobbet of blood, and staggered to his feet. "but somehow, you haven't beaten me yet, huh?"

Sesshoumaru shrugged, and tightened his grip on his own blade. "This is a simple matter to remedy," he remarked.

InuYasha barely saw him move, but all at once Sesshoumaru was in front of him, wielding the blade in a near-classic kendo stance, only modified to make up for the tai-youkai's lost arm. They locked eyes for only a moment, and slowly InuYasha did a bitter little grin. His sword came up into the same stance, the blades just lightly crossed at the tip. "Been a while since we've done this, eh?"

There was a flicker of movement and two resounding clangs before they were at a standstill again, blades locked at the hilts, eyes blazing. "Don't think this is like those paltry duels we used to have, InuYasha…" Sesshoumaru murmured, breaking through and launching into a flurry of stunning blows that sent painful shocks ringing down InuYasha's arm and into his chest. "If need be, I will kill you."

"You'd kill me anyway," InuYasha gritted. "Don't see how us fighting the old fashioned way makes a difference…"

Dammit… leg was burning like hell. InuYasha wasn't sure how much more he could keep up.

Sesshoumaru, look of vague contempt on his face, launched sideways then in, thrusting hard. The blade sliced in, sliding across the hanyou's shoulder blade, drawing a stinging line of deep crimson across the scarlet Haori. "You're slash is fast, InuYasha, but your defense is still lacking." He lifted his blade again, preparing to skewer the Hanyou. "'Tis a fatal error."

The little twang barely reached their ears before the arrow hit, with beautiful accuracy, into Sesshoumaru's pale wrist. The tai-youkai recoiled sharply, ripping the shaft out of his already blistering flesh before any more of the miko power would sink into him.

Both the hanyou and his brother turned their gaze to where Kagome stood, halfway hidden by a tree, another arrow already strung on her bow and the string tight in her fingers.

InuYasha was, surprisingly, the first to recover, and planted both feet into Sesshoumaru's gut, pushing hard. The silver haired youkai was scent careening backwards. He recovered, flipping in the air, and landing soundly. "Do women in your company always interrupt combat so?" he asked, eyes calm.

InuYasha moved his head side to side, neck cracking grotesquely. Then he slowly glanced towards Kagome again, eyes narrowing. "I told you to wait," he growled dangerously.

With a little wince, he could see her fierce face melt just a little behind her bow. He couldn't really blame her for coming… hell, he had been half expecting it, but still… She had interrupted something important. "Don't interfere," he commanded, slowly turning back towards Sesshoumaru.

"But," he head her voice ring out. He repressed a growl, and threw a hand out at her.

"I said don't bother us, wench," he snarled. "You're messing with something you don't understand,"

Kagome gaped at him involuntarily. Was he crazy? Sesshoumaru had been about to skewer him. "InuYasha, you need-"

"I need you to butt out, Kagome," InuYasha growled, stalking towards Sesshoumaru.

She watched in fascination as the two brothers cautiously circled each other, swords raised. With a sinking, feeling, she noticed that InuYasha's hurt leg was soaked from the calf down with blood. That idiot! What was his problem? He should be happy she came to help…

"I see you do have some dignity, at least." Sesshoumaru murmured.

"She's got no part in this, Sesshoumaru," InuYasha growled back. "Keep her out of this."

Sesshoumaru took another step forward, finally crossing swords with InuYasha. "I will leave her be, but the Tetsusaiga is mine."

InuYasha spat. "Why do you want it so bad, huh, Sesshoumaru? You don't need it. You can't even use it!"

Sesshoumaru scowled. "This is what the dragons-"

"Bullshit," InuYasha roared, snapping forward and battering at Sesshoumaru, locking swords and forcing him back. "You're gonna just let the dragons have their little way while Menomaru sits around and gets power? What are you, just a little bastard flunky now?"

Kagome shook her head. Menomaru… that was the name that had InuYasha all bent out of shape…

The tide suddenly reversed, and it was InuYasha being driven back under the ferocious attacks of his brother. "Watch your tongue, hanyou." Sesshoumaru seethed, knocking the Tetsusaiga aside.

InuYasha recovered, and lashed again, striking back. "So it's true, then?" InuYasha demanded. With sudden smoothness, he leapt back near Kagome, and deliberately turned his back to Sesshoumaru, sheathing the Tetsusaiga. "Well, since you're so up about it, I'll just go kill the bastard myself." He turned towards Kagome, eyes narrow. "C'mon, let's leave Mr. Coward here, and-"

He was interrupted suddenly, cut off by Kagome's scream of horror. He looked downwards slowly, and grimaced at the foot of steel sticking out of his chest, just beneath his sternum. He pitched forward, staggering, and turned back towards Sesshoumaru, coughing up blood.

Kagome was at his side in an instant, under one shoulder, holding him up. She shot Sesshoumaru a look of venom that would have wilted flowers, but InuYasha beat her to any words.

"Backstabbing, eh, Sesshoumaru?" he gasped. "Don't think Dad would like you doing stuff like that." The tai-youkai visibly stiffened at that. "You know, I think that if he were here, he wouldn't be waiting around for some dragons to give him permission to go kill one of his enemies, either. He sure would be disappointed in you."

Kagome choked suddenly, not being able to breath at all. It was like she had just been doused in a cloud of Naraku's worst miasma, but there was no poison to be seen. Sesshoumaru, however, had gone rigid as a board, eyes glazing over red and hair snapping around him in unfelt winds. "InuYasha…" she quavered.

"Of course, you were a rebel last time we met Menomaru. Maybe you're just being nostalgic, and wanna disappoint the old man again."

Something snapped, and two things happened at once:

Sesshoumaru snarled. Not his normal grimace, snort, or even occasional derisive laugh. This was something else, a level of Sesshoumaru that Kagome had never seen before. His lips peeled back, revealing bared fangs, and his eyes were deep, bloody crimson. The sword in his hand melted as he lunged, and his claws went strait for InuYasha's face, glowing sickly green.

And at the same time, as if by some incredible piece of instinct, Kagome also launched into action, dropping InuYasha and lunging forward herself, palm outstretched towards the tai-youkai.

By some miracle, her hand snaked past his, and connected his chest. Feeling a sudden force well up inside her, Kagome pushed, without even really being sure how. There was a flash, and searing pain in her shoulder, and then she was out.

Apparently, though, not for very long.

"Kagome, dammit! Wake up!"

She had never been so happy to head InuYasha swear at her. She opened her eyes, and slowly sat up, moaning painfully as she did so. Her shoulder really hurt. She glanced down, and turned away suddenly, pale. That explained why it really hurt. Sesshoumaru's claws must have grazed her, because the shoulder of her shirt was ripped, and the flesh underneath was… not very pretty.

She had to fight down the urge to puke, but she managed to get some help from the gentle clawed hand on her good shoulder. "Gods, Kagome… are you…" InuYasha's voice gasped.

She could hear other voices behind his, softer and more urgent.

She looked up as her head cleared. "Where's Sesshoumaru?"

Through her hazed vision, she could make out InuYasha's face. He looked like he was smiling slightly. "Don't think he's getting up any time soon."

She leaned forward, and shook her head, trying to get into a position where she could think. She had… hit Sesshoumaru. Her hands were tingling, like she had just had electricity run though her.

She finally managed to look around, and gaped just a little at the scene in front of her. Two other people had somehow appeared in the clearing since she had passed out, and they were huddling over the still form of something.

Her eyes widened… Sesshoumaru?

She glared up at InuYasha, blinking wildly. "What did you do to him?" she demanded. The hanyou shook his head and stood up, helping Kagome to her feet as well.

"Didn't do a damn thing," he grumbled, taking a step back and wincing from hole in his chest. "You did your stupid blast thing, and he was laid out flat." He glanced down at her shoulder. "How bad does it hurt?"

With that question, Kagome wasn't able to try to tune out the pain racking through her anymore, and she cringed despite herself. "Pretty bad," she admitted, clenching her teeth. Don't think about it, she told herself, and returned her gaze to the trio across from them.

The most obvious one, standing like some sort of guardian, arms akimbo, was a pirate. A real, true-blue pirate. He had the coat, the britches, the boots, the hat. He even had a scimitar hanging at his hip. He was also white. European. One thing she had never expected to see in this time was a European. He was eyeing them suspiciously, hand resting on something in his sash.

The other was much less noticeable, but much more shocking. A human. A little girl. Normally someone she wouldn't even look twice at. But she was leaning over Sesshoumaru, concerned look on her face. A human. Girl. Was leaning over Sesshoumaru. Worried.

Somewhere, in Kagome's head, the connection failed.

And then she eyes Sesshoumaru. And started choking…

There was blood. Lots of it. Oozing from his chest and soaking his partially charred clothes. Holy shit… had she done… that?

A sudden gasp wracked the youkai-lord's chest, and the girl was instantly down, and inch from his face, whispering something.

Kagome could barely make out Sesshoumaru's lips moving as he started to stir. The girl nodded, and slowly stood up, coming to stand by the pirate, looking at them with such inquisitive eyes that a cat might have been put to shame. She cleared her throat, and smiled. "Sesshoumaru-Sama says that InuYasha," she pointed at the hanyou, "should watch his mouth, and you," she pointed to Kagome, "only got a lucky shot in because he wasn't expecting you be that ripped." She paused a moment, and giggled. "Only he says it all graceful-like, you know, cuz he's Sesshoumaru-Sama."

Kagome shook her head and leaned forward involuntarily. "I'm sorry?"

The girl nodded. "If Sesshoumaru-Sama had been fully aware of your power, he would never have exposed himself like that." She smiled even sweeter, and behind her, Sesshoumaru started stirring, leaning forward slightly. His face, normally impassive, was twisted with anger and pain. It was scary, seeing Sesshoumaru so emotional. Something was wrong with all of this.

The girl turned around again, and ran back to his side. "Would you like help, milord?" she giggled, reaching out to help him up.

If she took any offence when Sesshoumaru swatted her hand away, she gave none. The tai-youkai, breathing harder than a fat kid after a five mile run, slowly got to his feet, and stood erect, making his face as placid as possible. The crater-like wound on his chest, she could see, had already clotted, and the bleeding wasn't half what it should have been, and she could see scabbing taking place already. Amazing… he healed even better than InuYasha did.

He leveled a stern gaze at them, and slowly took a step backwards. "If you insult me so again, I will kill you," he grated.

"Need any help, sir?" the pirate murmured.

Kagome shook her head. Good, god, he even talked like a pirate.

"I need no assistance," Sesshoumaru murmured, taking slow, near-staggering steps away from the gathering. "I shall walk on my own."

As he faded from sight, the little girl skipped after him, singing happily.

The pirate was left, standing stalk still, regarding the hanyou and her friend warily. "So… that's the sword all this is about," he mused, stroking his braided beard. "Big enough to make a Scotsman sweat, looks like." He gave them a grin. One tooth was gold. "I reckon I'll just let you and your brothers punch this one out. Just so long as I get paid, eh?"

He swaggered around, and gallantly strode towards the path the other two had left on, singing a low sea chantey as he went.

Kagome was terribly nonplussed, eyebrows up and jaw hanging down. "Are you as confused as I am?" she murmured, leaning back and half falling into InuYasha.

The hanyou gave out a little ohmf, and staggered backwards, catching the girl in mid fall, careful of her shoulder. "Dammit, wench, don't fall all over me…"

"Sorry," she mumbled, regaining her balance. "It just really hurts…"

"Keh," InuYasha mumbled, and casually leaned down to hook his arm around her waist. "You can kick the shit out of my brother, but you can't even walk on your own."

"Sorry," she apologized again, blushing despite herself. Prodded gently by InuYasha, she started walking, and eventually was able to stand on her own. But that didn't stop her missing the warm arm around her. "InuYasha, what was all that?"

"That's what I wanna know," he grumbled back, crossing his arms. "You saved my life two times in three days." He chuckled. "I know you're too useless to actually do anything, so I just must be slipping."

She scowled, and punched his side. "That's not what I meant," she scolded. "Who's this Menomaru, and what's got you so worked up about him, and what was that thing that you and Sesshoumaru were going?"

InuYasha paused just a second. "You know when you asked me about my childhood couple days ago, and I told you I was born during a war?"

Kagome nodded, enjoying anything that would take her mind off her shoulder.

"The bastard the old man was at war with was a guy from China named Hyoga," InuYasha confided. "But I never met him. But is did have the…" –a bitter chuckle- "privilege of meeting the guy's son. Littler bastard named Menomaru."

Kagome blanched. "But I thought your dad one that war?"

InuYasha shook his head. "We won that war. Dad managed to seal all the really big opponents away, but after that, he died." Another bitter chuckle. "And that's when my life became shit."

Kagome wanted to ask what happened after, but one look at his stormy face made her drop it. "So… what do we do now?"

"Town," the hanyou grunted, quickening his pace.


InuYasha rolled his eyes. "Miroku and Sango need clothes, you to get your shoulder looked at, and after we get that squared away, I think we all need to know what's going on, hmm?"

"Okay," Kagome murmured, and kept walking. "But what was with that whole duel thing? You and Sesshoumaru almost looked like you knew what you were doing."

"That was… something different." The hanyou actually looked sad for a moment, before the pissed look crossed back across his face. He glanced at her, and his lips twisted up, and finally he continued. "Back when I was still a kid, Sesshoumaru used to spar with me." He smiled. "I'd have to sneak out to keep mom from knowing, but if I could make it, he'd always show me a thing or two, and we'd always spar just like that. He'd let me win most of the time too."

Kagome gaped at him. Somehow, the image of him and Sesshoumaru fighting for fun, and what's more the elder brother letting InuYasha win… it didn't seem right. "What happened?" she breathed.

InuYasha chuckled again. It was a bitter, bitter sound. "Like I said, my life became shit."

"Sesshoumaru-Sama," Rin nagged as she followed along beside him. "You should let me help you."

"I need no assistance…" Sesshoumaru grated out, teeth clenched. He wanted assistance. He wanted it a lot. Whatever InuYasha's wench had hit him with, it had hurt. Physically, Sesshoumaru wasn't sure he had ever been in so much pain.

Once, when InuYasha had first used the windscar and he had met Rin… that came close to this. But never had so much damage been dealt.

To think, a human like that, such power had been wielded. Sesshoumaru had never even thought of InuYasha's bitch as a threat.

He would not make the same mistake again. Kagome… that was her name. He would have to remember it.

He had a feeling he would be seeing them again, shortly.

"Milord," the voice called behind him. It was the pirate. "Milord, I suggest we head towards the ship. We have some bandages and stuff there, and I can stitch you up-"

"I need no medical anything," Sesshoumaru growled, stopping against a tree. "I need no assistance, I need no help." He slowly slid down the trunk, leaving a trail of blood as he went.

Rin leaned forward, cherubic face tilted in concern. "Are you sure, Sesshoumaru-Sama? We could-"

"Go to the ship, Rin," Sesshoumaru gritted.

The little face smiled. "Great!" she giggled. "I'll be right back with-"

"Take Morgan with you, return to Shinjuku."

The smile faded. "Sesshoumaru-Sama…"

"Ensure that the fool Aaron is not destroying anything, and take charge."

Rin's lips pursed, and her eyes turned serious. "Are your wounds fatal, Sesshoumaru-Sama?"

There was a long pause, followed by what passed for a smile from Sesshoumaru. "These wounds are paltry," he said, slowly rising to his feet. "However my goal is not attended."

"You're going after InuYasha again, Sesshoumaru-Sama?"

He shook his head, and flexed a clawed hand. "InuYasha and his woman are the illogical choice," he murmured. "Instead I will go after the one who is most sensitive."


"I am going to kill Menomaru, dragons be damned."