Disclaimer: Well, I own just about every episode aired on Cartoon Network...but I suppose that's not good enough for all you people on fanfiction.net. Rumiko Takahashi has them, I don't.

Crazed Fuzzle: Woot! This is my second ever fanfiction. It's just a cute little one-shot I got inspired for ages ago, but only finished the other day. I think I need to start auditions for an assistant muse, since Remus here doesn't seem to be enough.

RL: It's your job to actually work on the story after I inspire you. I can't do everything for you.

CF: See what I mean? Anyway, here's the story, and just so you know, I wrote this long before I knew about that one episode of Inuyasha, so I'm not copying or anything. Amazing how great minds really do think alike.

A figure with long white hair stood on a cliff, watching the progress of the group below him. A frown marred his handsome face as he surveyed them. Humans. Pathetic humans. What times these were that he had to stoop to following after them to get what he wanted. Certainly he had encountered them before, but that had been under circumstances in which he had been challenging them.

How hopeless they were, his half-brother and his little group. They weren't concerned with power. They didn't have any destination in mind at all. They just wandered around aimlessly, doing "good deeds" in hopes that they could find shards of the Shikon Jewel, or even just because they felt compelled to. They were hopeless.

But then, he reminded himself, if they didn't try to help those other pathetic humans, he wouldn't be following them. They were his only way to find...her.


Sesshomaru left the room silently, not wanting to wake...her. He knew that he was growing soft to have such feelings for a human, but he couldn't help it. She was a brave one, despite the fact that she was so small. She had approached him while he was injured, and attempted to care for him, despite the fact that he had tried to discourage her. When she had been hurt by the men in her village, she did not cry. She had courage and was full of life. She was one of a kind, and the only being he could afford to show affection for.

The dog demon sat down and leaned on the wall of the little abandoned hut they had found. He relaxed as much as he could allow himself to while on alert, and prepared himself for another long, probably uneventful night on guard duty. Hours passed, and without warning Sesshomaru felt another presence, something evil. Instinctively he went to check on her.

She was gone.

End Flashback

Sesshomaru looked at his half-brother's rag-tag team once again in disgust. Granted, they would be a decent challenge to any lower-class demon, but not to him. He turned away from the view and followed after the humans at a distance, making sure that they wouldn't catch sight of him. He was lucky that there were all these hills and foliage, and that he had left behind Jaken, the annoying demon that tried to follow him everywhere, or they would have caught him long ago, despite his skill.

The dog-demon almost sighed with relief as Inuyasha and Co. made camp for the night, although he knew that with every minute they stalled...she... was in increasing danger. He was not in jeopardy of being discovered while they were asleep. He did not look forward to the moment that they noticed that they were being followed and confronted him. It would be quite a challenge not to get into a fight with them, and to explain himself sufficiently without giving himself away completely. He was good, but even the Great Sesshomaru would have difficulty with that.

Kagome leaned up against the trunk of a tree and gazed off into the distance as she waited for the others to get done with setting up the camp. She had done her part, and could now relax. Suddenly she shivered, without warning, and felt the hair rising on the back of her neck as if she were being watched.

She sharply turned her head in the direction the feeling was coming from most, and thought that she caught a trace of motion. She stood up abruptly.

"Kagome, what is it?" This was coming from Sango, the only other girl in their little group. Kagome glanced in the direction of the movement discreetly and whispered,

"Do you get the feeling that we're being watched?"

"Well, a little, but..."

"It's probably just your nerves, Kagome," Miroku supplied. "You need some rest; you've been so worn out lately."

"No, someone's been following us for a day now." Kagome jumped at Inuyasha's interjection from above, not having seen him climb the tree.

"And you haven't told us?" Sango demanded, placing her hands on her hips and tilting her head to get a better view of the hanyou.

"He probably didn't want to worry you, Kagome or Shippo unnecessarily," the monk suggested, placing a hand on Sango's shoulder. "Not that he could doubt someone of your fine ski—"

"Save it." Sango smacked his hand away and turned her attention to the present problem.

"Maybe Inuyasha should go find who it is," Shippo piped up, climbing out of Kagome's backpack with a piece of candy.

"That would not be necessary," a bored voice told them from the edge of the clearing. The group turned to look at the source of the voice: a patch of shadow that stepped into the firelight nonchalantly...

"Sesshomaru?!" Kagome gasped, as unhelpful as ever.

"What do you want this time?" Inuyasha growled, jumping down from the tree into a position in front of the rest of the group and drawing the Tetsusaiga at the same time.

"Come now Inuyasha, do I need a reason to say hello to my little brother?" Inyasha didn't reply. "What's this? At a loss for words? I do believe it's a first."

"We don't have time for this!" Inuyasha bellowed rashly and charged. Sesshoumaru sidestepped his thrust easily and raised an eyebrow.

"And here I was thinking you were just setting up camp." The demon paused for a moment, contemplating his next move as Inuyasha fumed and got ready to attack again.

"Inuyasha, SIT!" Inuyasha smacked into the ground, spreadeagled. Sesshoumaru looked down at him thoughtfully.

"A useful trick, human," he drawled as the group of "good guys" stared in amazement.

"Have I gone crazy or did Sesshoumaru just complement Kagome?" Shippou whispered, eyes wide.

"What'd you do that for?" Inuyasha yelled, whirling on Kagome.

"Well, think about it Inuyasha," the schoolgirl told him rationally. "You say he's been following us all day, right? So if he wanted to kill us, wouldn't he have done it already?"

"She has a point, you know," Miroku agreed.

"The important thing is why he was following us," Sango added.

"So what do you want this time?" Inuyasha repeated impatiently.

"I'm looking for something," Seshoumaru told them vaguely, still managing to sound as emotionless and detatched as ever.

"And what makes you think we'll help you find it?" the demon's brother growled.

"Ah, but you already are," they were informed. Inuyasha lifted his sword higher and assumed a fighting stance.

"You're not getting the Tetsusaiga now or ever," the hanyou snarled. "You'll have to kill me first."

"Don't be rash, little brother," Sesshoumaru drawled boredly. "What use do I have for it now that I have a sword even more powerful?"

"Then what are you looking for?" Inuyasha insisted, managing to sound both offensive and puzzled at the same time in that way that only he could pull off.

"Nothing of importance." Sesshoumaru turned and started to walk away. "And now I have much more pressing business to attend to than dallying here."

The Jewel-hunters watched the demon's departure in silence until his form was completely obscured by the trees, and after. Finally Sango broke the confused silence.

"That was odd," she said unnecessarily. "He said that whatever he was looking for wasn't important, but he wouldn't be following us if it didn't matter."

"Perhaps he is looking for something he would prefer us not to know about," Miroku suggested sagely.

"Feh. Like what?" Inuyasha scoffed, flopping down and stuffing his hands inside his sleeves.

"Maybe he's after the child stealing demon," Shippo proposed thoughtfully. He earned a whack on the head for his efforts.

"Why would he be after that?" Inuyasha asked as if it were obvious that Sesshoumaru would never do such a thing. "I hardly think that he's a father. Besides, if he were, we'd know about it by know."

"Think about it, Inuyasha," Kagome told him reasonably. "If you were a father, would you want Sesshoumaru to know about it?"

"Of course not!" Inuyasha shouted, jumping to his feet. Miroku raised an eyebrow.

"Tell me, Inuyasha," he inquired politely. "Is there something you and Kagome aren't telling us?" Now it was Kagome's turn to leap to her feet, blushing furiously.

"What?" she shrieked, her face bright red. "Like I would even think about something like that!"

"Like I would do something like that with her!" Inuyasha added as if insulted, glaring at the perverted monk.

"I was only wondering," he said in his defense, hands raised. "But perhaps we should be getting to sleep now. Tomorrow is bound to be a long day."

"Whatever, monk," Inuyasha grumbled and reclaimed his perch in the tree he would probably spend the rest of the night in. One by one they dropped off to sleep, leaving Inuyasha to watch over their sleeping forms. As he listened to the sounds of the forest at night, he pondered the days events...not least of all Miroku's words. "Stupid monk. Doesn't know anything," he grumbled to himself, staring off into the stars. He glanced at Kagome, and dismissed the unfamiliar feeling in the pit of his stomach with the toss of his head. "Doesn't know anything at all," he repeated, as if for his own reassurance, and allowed himself to drift off

The next day was as good...or bad...as torture for Sesshoumaru. He hated having to follow his little brother around constantly. Even worse, Inuyasha and his little friends knew that he was following them. Had he allowed himself to be victim to such emotions, he would have felt very embarrassed and more than a little silly. But of course, he was the Great Sesshoumaru, and didn't have to worry about such petty feelings. Or at least, that was what he kept telling himself.

The real problem for him, though, was relying on someone else to find her. It should have been him looking for her and the demon! It should have been him tracking down the demon and killing it! It was possibly the most awful sensation he had ever experienced in his life, including the loss of his arm. But of course, being the Great Sesshoumaru and all but emotionless, he couldn't let himself think like that.

Instead, he allowed himself to be amused by his brother's crazy antics. Inuyasha and that human girl who constantly followed him around (he thought that her name was Kagome, but he couldn't be sure) were bickering, and even Sesshoumaru had to admit that this behavior was quite humorous. Once again the dog demon witnessed the use of that mysterious word "sit". It was truly puzzling that the hanyou would react so violently to so small a word, and Sesshoumaru wondered vaguely what caused this. As it was obviously not voluntary, he decided, the girl must have put some sort of a "collar" on him, some charm that was irremovable unless the girl permitted him to take it off. It was quite clever, in fact (for a human), and, as he had mentioned before in a rare display of respect, useful. However, as he watched the show from his viewpoint on a sheltered ridge, he found a new thought forming in his mind, one that was quite startling, in fact. His brother was attracted to this human.

Of course, it was not at all obvious from Inuyasha's behavior. Quite the contrary, in fact; the hanyou had developed a convincing (to most ordinary people) pretense of disliking the girl. Most spectators would not hesitate to believe that his actions were those of someone who does not want to be in the company they are with, but Sesshoumaru knew better. And this led him to wonder about whether he should be relieved that his brother had finally found a partner, or disgusted that it was a human. Of course, this should have been no decision, but since he had met...her...many of his old beliefs had been put to the test. And this led him back to his main problem: finding...her.

After a few more hours of travel (a few hours that Sesshoumaru could have halved if he hadn't been following the humans), the youkai became aware of a familiar presence—the presence that he had felt the night, only a few days ago, although it seemed like eternities, that she had been taken away. Sesshoumaru bit back a growl, knowing that his brother would probably hear it, and knowing that a growl would be too undignified for him. Sometimes he wished he could do whatever he wanted without worrying about whether he was too dignified or not to do it—but he always banished the thought the instant it came to mind. Because unless a miracle happened and no one cared one way or the other about whether what he did was aristocratic or not, he could never throw caution to the wind like that. Sesshoumaru did not believe in miracles.

Scanning the horizon for any likely headquarters for a human-stealing demon, the one-armed man tried to trade that train of thought for another, more productive one. Where would this demon be hiding? A coil of smoke caught the dog-demon's eye. Of course—that burned out village would be the first place to look. Finally abandoning his unwilling, oblivious escort, he headed towards the smoke on the horizon...and, if he was lucky, one unfortunate demon.

Inuyasha's head lifted, and his nose twitched slightly. Kagome, watching him, wondered if he knew he could twitch his nose, and had the sudden impulse to poke it. Knowing, what his reaction would be if she did so, she managed to resist this temptation, but only just. The ridiculousness of this thought sent her into fits of giggles, which she tried (unsuccessfully) to turn into a coughing fit. This, unfortunately, did not go unoticed.

"What're you laughing at?" the subject of her thoughts demanded grouchily. He had been in a foul mood since his older brother's appearance in their camp last night, and Kagome had to admit that she hadn't helped matters by teasing him this morning. Oh well.

"Oh, it's nothing," she managed, placing her laughter in check.

"You were laughing at me, weren't you?" the hanyou growled, bearing down on Kagome and glaring harshly.

"Well...it's just..." the human girl tried to come up with some sort of excuse, but thought of none. "Your nose..."

"Yeah, what about it?" Inuyasha snapped rudely, crossing his arms and looking down his aforementioned nose at the teenager.

"It...it twitched!" She exclaimed, earning an incredulous look from her crush.

"And what's it to you?"

"Inuyasha, if I may be permitted to speak," Miroku put in, taking a chance by involving himself in the quarrel, "Most normal people's noses don't twitch."

"It's not natural!" Shippo piped up from his position in Kagome's backpack.

"Well excuse me for breathing!" the rude "young" man snapped. "I thought it would be more important to tell you that I picked up on the demon's scent!"

"In that case, we'd better hurry up," Sango suggested, putting a hand on the giant boomerang strapped to her back. "I don't want to lose its trail again."

"Right," Miroku agreed. "I'll go with Sango and Kirara—Inuyasha, you go with Kagome and Shippo. We'll be able to cover more ground that way."

With unspoken consent the monk and the demon exterminator mounted the transformed Kirara, leaving Inuyasha and Kagome to follow, and eventually take the lead. As Kagome climbed onto Inuyasha's back as she usually did, she couldn't help being consious of the close proximity of his body. The hanyou picked up speed, and she was forced to wrap her arms around him to keep herself from falling off. Soon, as she had predicted, they had passed Kirara and the other members of the group, and in addition to the knots in her stomach that she always felt before a battle, there was a familiar (yet unexpected) prickle at the back of her neck.

"Inuyasha! I sense a jewel shard—and we're closing in on it.!"

"Oh, good. I love it when there's something in it for me." Kagome shook her head at her crush's thick-headedness. He could be so oblivious at times...

It seemed only an instant until they had reached the outskirts of the destroyed village. Inuyasha came to an abrupt halt at the glimpse of wreckage, and Kagome was glad that she had her arms around him. This reminded her that she should let go of him, and, hestitantly, she did so, and instead got her bow ready.

"So this is where he takes all those children..." Sango and Miroku had come up behind them.

"Feh. You'd think he could find someplace a little less conspicuous," Inuyasha scoffed, and began to lead them slowly towards the center of the village. Sure enough, when they reached the well, a rough, creepy voice began to speak.

"Leave or die, mortals." Kagome instinctively took a step towards Inuyasha, who drew the Tetsusaiga.

"I'll be the one to decide if I die or not, thanks," he growled, his usual arrogant self. "And I'm not quite convinced that you can do the job.

"Then let me persuade you!" A large, snake-like demon burst from one of the huts and dove for Sango. Big mistake on its part.

Sango grabbed her giant boomerang and sliced at the demon in one fluent, practiced motion. Even as it was cut in two, an arrow flew from Kagome's bow and pierced the thing's eye, killing it instantly.

"Well, that was simple," Miroku commented. "Perhaps a bit too simple."

"Easy for you to say," Sango growled, wiping demon blood from her weapon. "You didn't even do anything!"

"But my skills were not required," the lecherous monk protested. "It didn't stand a chance against you."

"Don't you think we should be looking for the children?" Shippo inquired, all but forgotten in the mayhem.

"Hold it! Kagome, you said that it had a jewel shard," Inuyasha interjected, hands on hips. "So where is it?"

"I never said that it had one," the jewel-detector said in her defense. "It's somewhere in this village..."

"Well what're you waiting for? Find it!"

"Cool it, will you?" Kagome snapped, frustrated. "I just helped kill that demon, and all you have in the way of thanks is more work?"

"Just find the shard already!" Inuyasha shouted. "For all we know, another demon could have it!"

"All right already!" the teenager was in no mood for one of Inuyasha's temper tantrums. "It's this way." Kagome stormed off, not caring if her friends were following or not. If they didn't, that was their problem, wasn't it? All she wanted was to save the children...

The sound of crying caught Kagome's attention. Puzzled, she looked around for the source, but saw no children. Following the pull of the jewel shard, the sound grew louder... and she found herself in front of a hut with a closed door.

"So're you gonna open it or not?" Inuyasha's rude, irritable voice startled the human girl.

"If you'll wait a minute—"

"I don't have a minute to wait!" the hanyou flung open the door angrily...

And came face to face with a room full of upset children. Upon Inuyasha's abrupt intrusion, several more began crying, but the majority of them flung themselves upon the bewildered Inuyasha. Kagome couldn't help laughing—he looked so helpless and out of place with all of these children...But after a moment she waded in and began comforting the upset ones, then set about detatching the rest of them from Inuyasha.

"Hello there," she crooned, noticing a little girl in a yellow dress in the corner. This girl had neither flung herself on Inuyasha nor started crying upon this sudden intrusion, which Kagome thought was strange. Small children were supposed to be emotional and upset easily. "What do you say we get you back to your Mommy and Daddy?"

The girl did not respond to this, nor did she latch on to Kagome when she was picked up. In fact, she squirmed and managed to wriggle out of the teenager's hold.

"What's wrong with her?" Inuyasha asked bluntly. Kagome turned to look at him, and nearly started laughing again; the half demon was sporting a child in each arm, and another was sitting on his shoulders, with yet another attached to his leg.

"I don't know. She hasn't made a noise since we got here..."

"Rin." A cool, deep voice stated authoratively. Both of our protagonists turned to look at the doorway, and were quite surprised to see...

"Lord Sesshoumaru!" The little girl squealed, and launched herself at the full demon. She only just managed to stop before running into him, and it seemed to be taking her a great deal of effort not to cling to him. "I knew you would come."

"I'm glad to hear that, Rin." Kagome was shocked to hear the tenderness in the cold demon's tone—it was a feeling that was very slight, but very different from what Sesshoumaru normally sounded like. "Now come. We must be going." Then, in a supremely rare display of affection, he picked the child up with his sole arm.

"Hold it!" Inuyasha had managed to set down the two children in his arms, but the one on his head just refused to let go. "What do you think you're doing with her?"

"I'm taking her home," the demon replied simply, and turned to leave, talking to Rin as he went. "I trust that you behaved well?"

"Yes, My Lord," she told him, snuggling into his shoulder. "The other children were quite unruly, but I tried to keep them under control..." the girl's voice faded as Sesshoumaru grew farther and farther away. Inuyasha and Kagome just looked at each other for several minutes. Then:

"Did I just see what I thought I..." Inuyasha trailed off shockedly.

"I saw it too..." Kagome was equally surprised. "Maybe we'd better not mention this to Miroku and Sango..."

"Yeah. They'd probably think we're hallucinating," the half demon agreed, then set his mind to facing the problem of returning all of these children...

CF: So long! Hope you enjoyed the fic! Oh, and please, please, pretty please review. See, I'm asking nicely. Now I must go pester some people, so sayonara!