Author's Note: This is a new story from me . . . it's a gift story for my friend, Himeandi, as her birthday's coming up soon.

Story does contain hints of incest, male/male situations, and implied situations. Do not read if such material offends you.

Sunlight filtered all around him as he slowly opened his eyes. His entire body ached, and, for a moment, he wondered what had hit him to make him feel so shitty. Had he gotten into a fight? He was certain that he would recall such an event. Sesshomaru paused for a moment, taking in the sounds and scents of his surroundings. Birds chirping, the scent of earth and trees . . .

'How did I end up here?' he thought as his eyes fluttered open and shut. The light hurt them, as if he'd been sleeping for a great period of time.

'Nonsense. Why would I fall asleep in a place like this, of all places?'

Sesshomaru inhaled softly then scowled. There were humans close by. Humans and his brother, Inuyasha.

As he rose to his feet and brushed the blades of grass and dirt off him, Sesshomaru was reminded of a time of when he'd been just like Inuyasha. So young, so full of life and vitality . . . for that's what his brother possessed and would always possess as long as he remained a half-demon. His human heritage would see to that.

The taiyoukai closed his eyes, a light smile on his face. There had been so much to live for, back then . . .


'I'm dead,' Sesshomaru thought as he ran through the palace's hallways, his hair a disheveled mess and his kimono in wrinkles. 'Father is not going to be happy about this. He's going to punish me severely for this for sure. I just know it'

He hadn't meant to oversleep that morning. He really hadn't. But he'd been up into the late hours of the night, reading over one of many scrolls his teachers had given him. It had been a fascinating read, too. Sesshomaru hadn't been able to put it down until he'd finished reading it. After that, he'd fallen asleep with visions of grandeur in his mind.

And because of that scroll, Sesshomaru was now late for his first fighting lesson. His father did not tolerate tardiness of any kind, not even from his own son. The young inuyoukai hadn't even had the chance to take a proper bath. When he'd awoken and realized what time it was, he'd dressed hurriedly, hoping he wouldn't be too late.

Sesshomaru came to a stop a few feet away from the dojo door and took a deep breath. He had to remain calm. Whatever his father's punishment was, he'd deal with. He was the only child to the taiyoukai and he was determined to prove himself. Smoothing out the wrinkles of his kimono the best he could, Sesshomaru approached the door and entered.

"You're late," a deep voice intoned. Sesshomaru did his best to refrain from cringing. Instead, he kept his face as stoic as possible and glanced at the male who had spoken. He bowed.

"Forgive me, Father," he stated. "I was up late reading. It won't happen again."

"Reading?" his father echoed, taking a few steps towards him. "And what were you reading that would keep you up so late, boy?"

"Master Tohma's scroll on ancient fighting techniques," Sesshomaru replied, keeping his head bowed. "As I said, Father, it won't happen again."

"I see . . . Master Tohma's scroll on ancient fighting techniques, you say? The one where he observed your grandfather fighting?"

"Hai, Father."

At that, InuTaisho chuckled. Surprised at hearing such a sound come from his father, Sesshomaru glanced at him. It was a rarity, his father laughing. The young boy thought he'd never hear such a sound coming from the taiyoukai. However, there he was, his robes regal and refined, his silvery-white hair pulled into a topknot, and his golden-amber eyes sparkling. A light smile had crossed his face.

"We can overlook that transgression just this once," InuTaisho said, still smiling. "After all, I don't know of very many of Master Tohma's students who would actually find that scroll interesting. Now, boy . . . show me what it is you've learned from reading."

Still surprised by this slight change in his father's behaviour, Sesshomaru could only nod and take up the first position the scroll had described. It was a simple technique, with one foot placed a few feet in front of the other with one's knees slightly bent. The object of the stance was to flip an opponent over the shoulder while still being allowed movement. InuTaisho nodded in approval as he got himself into position.

"Very good," he murmured. "Now do you know how to counter someone who knows how to counter that move?"

"I think so," Sesshomaru frowned. InuTaisho shook his head.

"No. You mustn't think you know. You must know. Thinking you know something when you don't is a good way to get yourself killed, boy. There is no room for doubts. Do you understand?"

"Hai, Father," the boy nodded, his cheeks burning slightly. Of course, his father was right. On the battlefield, there were no room for doubts. It was kill or be killed. Hesitation gave the enemy the advantage. As did taking your eyes off your enemy. Before he knew it, his father had charged him then flipped him over, causing the wind to be knocked out of him as he landed on his back.

"Rule number one, Sesshomaru," his father stated. "Pay attention to your surroundings. You never know where the enemy may lurk."

"Yes, Father," he winced, rising to his feet. So they continued for the next few hours, InuTaisho charging at him and he either avoiding his father's attacks or countering them. By the time they were done, Sesshomaru's ribs and lungs burned as did the many cuts and scratches he had gained from the sparring match. His father gave him a critical yet appraising look as he got to his feet for the final time.

"Very good, boy," InuTaisho murmured, his expression stern. "Not bad for your first match. Tomorrow, you'll begin your training with NatsuMaru. I expect you to do your best and learn from him. Understood?"

"Hai, Father," Sesshomaru gasped out. His father's expression softened some.

"Go see Shinsei, boy. Get yourself patched up then take some lunch. You have your studies to continue, after all. No child of mine will go without learning everything he can." InuTaisho closed the gap between them. "You will do your best to honour your family, Sesshomaru. There is nothing more important than family. Take care of your family and your family will take care of you." His hand stroked Sesshomaru's cheek. "Always remember that, my son. Always."

"I won't forget," he vowed solemnly. "I swear."

"That's my boy. Now go. Shinsei is waiting for you."

With every ounce of dignity he could muster, which was a lot despite the shooting pain that went up his back and down to his knees, Sesshomaru strode out of the dojo and made his way to the palace healer. Later that night, after he'd completed his studies and had taken the evening meal with his father and his new fighting instructor, Sesshomaru lay on his futon. His eyes gazed out the window into the gardens, taking in the beauty that he saw there. Everything that grew there was something his father had fought to keep. Why his father even had the gardens, Sesshomaru hadn't been able to fathom. He was just glad that he did. The sakura trees were especially beautiful in the moonlight.

'I swear I will do you proud, Father,' the boy yawned as his eyes began to droop. 'For you . . . and for the honour of our family.'


'Take care of your family and your family will take care of you. That's what Father always told me,' Sesshomaru thought with a sad sigh as his eyes opened. His brother was fast approaching. 'And I told him that I would. That I would do our family proud. But I never did. I'd forgotten that day . . . how proud he was of me. I have failed you, Father. But not anymore. I'll make things right. I swear I will.'

It had always been his father's wish that his children be well-versed in more than just politics and fighting. Sesshomaru had learned how to write and to read, and had learned about art from a very young age. His father had been the absolute air of intelligence and refinery as well as the most powerful fighters in all of Japan. Sesshomaru had aspired to be just like him and then some. And Inuyasha, when he'd been little, had wanted to be just like Sesshomaru. The boy had absolutely adored him . . . until Sesshomaru had turned him out with nothing more than the clothes on his back. Why, he still hadn't been able to explain to himself to that day other than the simple foolishness of listening to those who had despised his father and grandfather for siring hanyous.

'I've been a fool,' he thought, 'but no more. Inuyasha's going to learn his place in this world . . . and I'll be the one to teach him.'

Steeling himself for what he hoped to be the final violent confrontation with his younger brother, Sesshomaru turned himself around to face the direction Inuyasha and his companions were coming from. A light smirk crossed his face as he thought of Inuyasha's reaction to what he was going to propose. Oh, they'd fight at first. After all, his brother had always been an excellent fighter, having learned a few things on his own, and it always amused him to see what Inuyasha would try next. As far as Sesshomaru was concerned, Inuyasha was the only worthy opponent he had left. They were family, after all.

'Little brother, you are in for one hell of a surprise. Of this, I'm sure of.'