A/N – This is my attempt to create a situation where Sesshoumaru actually takes Inuyasha in, rather than leaving him to his own devices. I'm not going to expand it to show how everything might have changed – I don't have the energy – but I thought it might be interesting to explore his thoughts and motivations at this one point in time.

I don't know how much older Sesshoumaru is than Inuyasha, but I'm assuming that he was, if not fully matured, then at least the equivalent of a young adult, not an adolescent, when Inuyasha was born.

Disclaimer – I don't own Inuyasha. Don't sue me.

The human woman was dead. He had known it was coming for a while now, of course – she had wilted without his father – but had hoped that it could be somehow averted, at least for a few more years until the hanyou grew up. However, Inuyasha was only six years old – not nearly old enough to take care of himself – and now Sesshoumaru would have to make a choice.

What would he do about the hanyou? Sesshoumaru hated humans and thought Inuyasha a disgrace to their bloodline – he made no secret of it – and normally he would have done their world a favour and gotten rid of him. But one thing could not be denied: however weak and inferior his mother may have been, he was still the son of the Great Demon of the West…

Inutaisho had been cunning, ruthless and politically savvy, but he had chosen to die to save his human mate and child. Since Sesshoumaru had never known his father to be anything other than clear-headed, realistic and fully aware of the consequences of everything he did, he could only assume that he had known exactly what he was doing – and if his father had known exactly what he was doing, then that meant he had always truly intended Inuyasha to live amongst the youkai of the West as an equal.

And if that was so…

There had only ever been one being to whose will Sesshoumaru had truly bowed, and that had been his father. Inutaisho had been immensely powerful, securing his territory through force of power and will, and by the force of his formidable intelligence. However, not even his staunchest supporters could deny that, as he grew older, he'd been given to occasional starts of…one could only call it whimsy.

Ruthlessly realistic as he'd been, he'd adopted a number of eccentric retainers such as the cowardly old flea, Myouga, and he had been known to dabble occasionally in mercy and compassion. He'd preferred to ignore the humans on his land, preferring to remain indifferent to their firefly lives and petty concerns – well, that was acceptable enough, if a little apathetic – but the crowning folly – the one that truly put most youkai backs up – was his devotion to a human woman, and the half-breed son he sired on her.

But what would be folly in an ordinary demon was tolerated in the Lord of the West, because he was strong enough to defend his right to such eccentricities – as long as he had lived, Izayoi and her son had been safe from harm. No one, however, had expected Inutaisho to die so soon…

Sesshoumaru had certainly not expected it. Unprepared for the sudden change in his status, he'd sent the woman back to her family, hoping to avoid any problems that might arise from a hanyou's presence – or at least to get him out of the way while he set about eliminating anyone who stood against him and terrifying the rest into obedience. And then, even after he'd achieved unquestioned dominance over the western lands, he'd chosen to leave the boy and his mother with her family, perhaps hoping that the problem would somehow solve itself.

It had not.

Instead, the human woman had died, and the problem of Inuyasha had once again fallen into his lap. His father had wanted the brat, had always intended to raise him as his own – had, in fact, managed to wring a few such concessions out of Sesshoumaru before he died – but his father was dead, now. He could leave the brat to fend for himself with his human kin, or...

For the last few days he'd watched the human castle from the trees, scaring away most of the lesser youkai and local wildlife who knew better than to remain in his vicinity. The human guards, blind to most of the ways of the wild, had not noticed this telltale sign of a very dangerous predator's presence –

But Inuyasha had.

The six year old boy, with his ridiculous ears and his blunted, flawed senses, had been glancing instinctively – apprehensively – in his direction for almost three days, and had been sniffing the wind at every chance he could get. Curious to see just how well developed those senses were, Sesshoumaru allowed the boy to catch his scent, to sense his youki, and watched in detached amusement as Inuyasha frowned, sensing both a threat and a likeness…

And slipped away to come in search of him, radiating defiance, apprehension and curiosity all at once.

Straight up the hill towards the trees he came, standing out in his oversized red clothing and his vivid, inhuman colouring – it was not the wisest of moves for a very young, very small, very vulnerable hanyou. It was fortunate for him that Sesshoumaru himself had scared all the other predators away – he was the scariest thing in the woods, and happily for Inuyasha he had no intention of harming him. Yet.

The boy came to the edge of the tree line, visibly nervous now and yet still filled with determination. "I know you're there," he called out. "Come out so I can see you."

Sesshoumaru moved slowly out of the shadows and into the boy's line of vision. He knew the effect this sudden materialization had on others – and he wondered how Inuyasha would take it.

The boy's eyes widened as he took in Sesshoumaru's appearance.

"You're…" he breathed, "You're like me!" He indicated his tangled white hair and his wide golden eyes.

Sesshoumaru controlled a start of revulsion at being compared to a hanyou, telling himself that he was indeed far more like the boy than the boy's human family. It was not a welcome revelation.

"Are you like my father? Did you…did you know him?" There was real excitement in the boy's voice now, and all of his caution seemed to have vanished with the realization of similarity. He was excited, and ridiculously hopeful – and Sesshoumaru knew that with his next few words he could crush the hanyou's hopes and dreams underneath his foot, or he could accept the ties of kinship and be forever bound to a flawed, weak, half-breed who would bring him nothing but trouble.

And yet his father had died for this weakling – this weakling who had sensed him and come in search of him, seemingly oblivious to any of the dire fates that could befall stray hanyou at the hands of strange youkai, whether they smelled similar or not. His father had died for this strange, flawed reflection who was looking at him very warily now, because he had been staring at him for more than a minute without speaking.

And then, as he watched, the excitement dimmed, the expectations died, and disappointment showed in the boy's eyes – Sesshoumaru could see that it was not the first time – but instead of a quivering lip and tears, the eyes narrowed, the mouth twisted into a snarl exposing small milk fangs, and Inuyasha glared furiously at him.

"Fine then!" he spat. "I don't care – he wasstupidanyway. I'm going to be stronger than that…strong enough thatI don't need you or anyone!" He finished his incoherent tirade, whirled furiously and began to run off down the hill, and Sesshoumaru, staring after him in exasperation and irritation and amusement, made his decision.


His quiet, authoritative voice stopped the young boy in his tracks.

"Do not refer to our father in such a manner again."

Inuyasha turned around slowly, eyes wide and unbelieving. He latched onto the only part of that statement he understood. "Our father?" he repeated.

Sesshoumaru could tolerate tantrums, to a point; he would not tolerate stupidity. "We are half-brothers," he said flatly.

Wary, cautious hope began to dawn in Inuyasha's eyes, but thankfully he did not express it. "Will you take me with you?" he asked. "Away from here?"

Sesshoumarueyed him impassively for a long moment, and then shrugged. "Do as you wish." He turned his back on the boy and the humans and moved back into the wood, merging easily with the shadows and the unknown. There was a moment of shocked silence behind him, and then a swift patter of feet as Inuyasha ran after him, falling in behind him, dogging his footsteps as closely as he could, given his much shorter legs.

Sesshoumaru made no allowances. Inuyasha asked for none.

And the new Lord of the West acquired the first of his own eccentricities.

A/N – So, please tell me what you think. Feedback is greatly appreciated.