Loss of Self, Discovery of Truth

He was weak, tired, hungry, and most devastatingly……human.

Once more he looked at his dulled human fingernails, the pale flesh that no longer carried the marks of his heritage, and the blood that had amassed with the various cuts and wounds he now carried.

Determination drove his every step as he sought out the one person in the world whom he trusted in this frail state of existence. Ironic, that after spending most of his adult life despising his half-brother that he would now seek him purposely in his moment of need.

Sharing a mutual enemy often drove rivals to team up though. For the past few years the desire to destroy Naraku had often caused the brothers to cross paths. Sesshoumaru knew that his younger brother felt indebted to him for saving the lives of his human companions from the poisonous member of the seven-men team.

That had been six months ago.

Much had happened since that time.

He glanced back towards the darkness of the mountains that he was leaving behind, several miles in the distance. Rin and Jaken were there, waiting for him to return. His loyal toad had orders to return to the castle should Sesshoumaru not return within a specified amount of time. For now the Lord of the Western Lands would have to rely on that blind loyalty for the protection of his ward.

It was his own safety that remained in a precarious position at the moment. Still, it was hard to believe he could allow himself to be fooled by such a lowly detachment of Naraku.

With bitterness he could feel the emptiness of his left sleeve flapping in the wind. With his remaining hand he rolled up the long white sleeve and tied it in a knot just below where the ruins of his bicep remained. His impromptu amputation didn't bother him as much before because he was adept at compensating with his demon abilities. Now, it presented a genuine problem that he was not prepared to deal with successfully.

It would be impossible for him to hunt down food with one arm in the crude human ways. A shiver passed down his spine from the chilled wind of the night. Perhaps he should be grateful that the parasitic demon didn't kill him off completely. Living as a shell of what he was didn't lift his spirits though.

A determined light passed through the former demon lord's currently honey-brown eyes. No longer were they the exquisite shade of gold that penetrated one with a mere glance. His half-brother was the only hope he had to defeat Naraku now and regain his identity. His half-brother and those that traveled with him were his only hope.

A moment of uncertainty caused him to pause in his clumsy footsteps. The terrain was rough and uneven and particularly difficult to handle in his battle-battered body. "What if they refuse to help me?"

He shook his head, sending the long light brown hair to cling against his sweaty face and neck. "No, they would not refuse to help someone in need." His lips curled downwards in a frown. "At least the hanyou's companions would not refuse," he clarified.

Three days before he had seen the hanyou's group camping in the general direction he was now walking towards with purpose. The heat of the night air confused him. It was the end of autumn, it should be cold. The human's steps began to falter as his exhaustion took its deadly toll.

Soon the unforgiving ground greeted his abused body and blackness consumed him.


"Stop acting like a child!" Kagome shouted as she stomped her foot against the earth in a childish tantrum. It seemed whenever she and Inuyasha argued their maturity level plummeted several notches.

"Keh," Inuyasha muttered as he crossed his arms over his chest defiantly and commenced to stare dare down at the young woman in front of him. "You're the one acting like the child," he returned hotly.

Miroku slapped the palm of his hand against his forehead in aggravation. Since when did he turn into the adult of the group? "Oh, that's right," he answered his own question, "when Sango and Shippo decided to stay behind and help Lady Kaede."

"What were you saying Miroku?" Kagome asked, looking over at the somber monk who was talking to himself.

"Yeah, stop talking to yourself. People will start thinking you're crazy," Inuyasha added as he uncrossed his arms and picked up the heavy yellow pack that Kagome had thrown to the ground in protest. She refused to carry it any longer without any help.

Kagome turned her attention back to Inuyasha in surprise. "You decided to carry it?" Her sapphire eyes searched his face for any sign of admission to his suddenly helpful disposition.

"Well," Inuyasha began as he licked his lips. "It does have my Ramen in it," he pointed out. He didn't want to admit that he was going to offer to carry it before Kagome had demanded that he 'haul around his own crap.' It was true that most of the things in the yellow pack were for his consumption.

"Kagome-sama," Miroku interjected when he could see anger coloring the futuristic miko's cheeks. "Perhaps we should let this subject rest," he gave her a warning look. With a shrug of her shoulders, Kagome let out a deep breath and relaxed.

"Besides, you are rather weak," Inuyasha added after several moments had passed and they began walking again.

Kagome's hands fisted at her side, making her knuckles white with the pressure of holding in her temper at the belittling tone of the man she supposedly 'loved.' Her eyes narrowed as she tried to bore a hole in his back with sheer willpower. She ignored how pretty his long silver hair looked as it swayed against the red of his clothing. "Boys shouldn't be allowed to have prettier hair than girls," she complained.

"Did you say something, Kagome-sama?" Miroku asked, having heard the under-her-breath comment quite clearly.

However, Kagome didn't answer for something had drawn her attention. Lying in the dying brush of autumn was a figure in white. Long, light brown hair was spilled about the prone form. Without a second thought she took off running towards the person.

A check of the pulse point in the neck showed that the individual was weak and the heat radiating off the skin was indicative of a fever. Seconds later, Miroku and Inuyasha stood on either side of her. Miroku helped her to turn over the figure onto their back.

Inuyasha stood silently in disbelief, confused by the contrast of what his senses were telling him and what his logic could comprehend.

Kagome gasped at what she saw, or rather whom. The feverish person was in fact a man, the most beautiful man she had seen before actually. His long light brown hair seemed to come to his knees, and still held a rich luster regardless of the dust that clung to it from the earth.

His skin was a pale ivory, unblemished and fine, though red from his fever. He seemed oddly familiar and her hand fell upon the empty sleeve that was tied in a loose knot where his left arm should have been. "It can't be," she muttered to herself.

"Sesshoumaru," Inuyasha confirmed her observation, his fingers already inching towards the Tetsusaiga that hung at his waist.


Special thanks to CharmingReality and Striking Falcon for listening to my ideas for the past few days.