A/NThis is the last chapter.

Inuyasha looks so angry when Sesshoumaru first showed up in the manga. Does he also feel betrayed?

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


IX


"…Sesshoumaru-sama, perhaps Inuyasha knows the location of the tomb."

Reacting without thinking, Sesshoumaru swept his hand back and swiftly backhanded the ingratiating imp into the river.

"Inuyasha," he drawled, battling his temper. "I have not heard that name in some time." Catching the falling staff, he used it to grind the imp's head down into the water.

From the frantically churned up water, there was a choked, desperate plea for forgiveness.

"He has been sealed for fifty years, Jaken."

"Th-that's why I'm telling you, Sesshoumaru-sama," Jaken sputtered. "Th-the seal; I hear it's been undone…"

Sesshoumaru paused. Almost reluctantly, he lifted the staff from the imp's head and allowed him to come up to breathe.


The last time he'd set eyes on his younger brother, Inuyasha had been pinned to a tree, his vivid, mobile face strangely blank and peaceful, all animation banished by the freezing seal. Forever frozen, all that youth and potential stopped by his miko's spell –

And now he was free. Fifteen years old, as if five long decades had not bypassed him in an eye blink.

But time had not bypassed Sesshoumaru. He'd spent the last fifty years seeking his father's grave and the Tetsusaiga, an endless, obsessive quest for strength, for purpose, for validation. He'd pondered his father's last riddle for years, finally understanding that the answer lay within Inuyasha himself – his hanyou brother, his father's beloved son, his own clumsy, hot-headed, reckless charge, so long silent and still.


"The reincarnation of the miko Kikyou set Inuyasha free," the word spread, whispers and tendrils of rumours reaching Sesshoumaru through frightened, wary mouths. "He seeks the shards of the Shikon no Tama…"

Inuyasha had always sought something more, something that would make him whole and reconcile the dichotomy at the heart of his existence. Sesshoumaru had made sure he understood the prejudice of the world around him, allowing him no false illusions – but youth, stubborn conviction and a jewel that could grant wishes had combined (still combined, it seemed) to make him believe he could have his wish, one way or the other.

Fool.

As he was now, the hanyou was no match for the foes he would face on his quest. Sesshoumaru was determined to get to him – and the vital information that he held – before he was killed, and their father's tomb was lost forever.

It would not be too difficult to pry the information out of him.

"Sesshoumaru, did you ever know my mother? I don't remember her, not well; did she regret leaving her home and family for chichi-ue? Did she love me?"

And if the Mu-Onna failed, then there was always his impulsive, reckless, easily provoked temper – it would be easy enough to get close enough to rip out the pearl.

"Again, Inuyasha."

"Aaargghh…you superior prick! I'm gonna make you eat those words…"


Two days later, faced with the reality of his unsealed, very much alive brother, Sesshoumaru almost hesitated.

"When I grow up… will I be like you? So strong that no one will ever pick on me again…"

"…I am the most dangerous being in this forest, Inuyasha. While you are young and weak, I will watch over you…"

But the whelp had made his choices, and they conflicted with Sesshoumaru's design. Brother or not, he could not be allowed to stand in his way.

High on the monstrous oni's shoulder, the facsimile of Inuyasha's mother wailing and weeping piteously in the demon's talons, he looked down at the shocked, angry hanyou and sneered. "Well, Inuyasha, it seems you remember your older brother's face."


Once, he had allowed a young, awkward boy to follow him into the wild, taking secret satisfaction in the way he struggled to keep up, asking for no allowances, stubbornly determined to persevere. But that had been sixty years ago, when the world had been a very different place.

Sesshoumaru no longer had any patience for eccentricity.


Fin


A/N – Thanks to all those who have read and reviewed this. Your feedback was greatly appreciated.