Title: Behind the Blue Moon
Author(s): SkyFire

For Notes/Disclaimers, see part 1.

A/N: There are a few links in my bio page here that you can check out. One is a PSA from my muses, a sketch showing what happens when you yell at an author, even if it is yelling of the 'more right now!' variety. Two are about how to leave a review. Not everyone needs this, but I like re-reading them every now and again just as a reminder to me; they're very good guidelines. The references are for the Highlander fandom, but the guides are good everywhere. Third is a link to my new Inuyasha fanfic archive. Please, go there! It's open to gen and slash (het, too, if anyone volunteers to mod), all divided into categories so you won't get into what you don't want to.

As always, I have to say thank you to my reviewers, it's very much appreciated! HUGS to you all! If you have a question that you really want an answer to, go to my bio page and click the link to my LJ. I answer every comment/review left there.

Whew, that's a long set of notes! Now, on with the story!

oOoOo
Part 8: Deus Ex

As usual of late, Inuyasha was the first to Sesshomaru's side after he fell. He gently pulled his half-brother out of his uncomfortable-looking sprawl, then lay him down on the grass. The scent of fresh blood, Sesshomaru's blood, sent the hanyou on a quick search for new wounds. What he found both shocked and sickened him.

The source of the blood turned out to be the back of the demon's head. Beneath the bandages, his hair was soaked and sticky with fresh blood the source of which was an inch-wide cut. Looking closer, Inuyasha saw something greyish protruding slightly. Thinking it was just a bit of debris that had worked its way under the bandages during their fight with Naraku, Inuyasha reached out, grabbed it firmly with clawed fingers, then --gently, not wanting to cause his brother more hurt than he had to -- pulled.

And pulled.

And pulled, watching in sickened fascination as the grey debris revealed itself to be a three-inch-long sliver of grey stone.

Sesshomaru made a small sound -- of pain or relief it wasn't clear -- as the sliver was removed, then seemed to relax slightly.

Inuyasha set the sliver aside, stomach turning at the realization that the only time the silver-haired demon had been that close to stone was when he had been buried beneath it that first day. The shard must have gone in, then the skin healed over it thanks to Sesshomaru's accelerated healing powers.

Ignoring the concerned chatter of his friends -- now gathered around the two Inu -- Inuyasha carefully examined the area around the sliver's wound, sensitive fingers prodding gently, searching for any other pieces of stone that might be similarly hidden. He found two tiny pieces, hardly bigger than the tip of a claw, and removed them. That done, he re-bandaged the bloody head, wrapped Sesshomaru up securely in a blanket offered by Rin, then lifted him up in his arms.

A quick glance at his companions showed them to be as ready as he to leave the grisly clearing. A quick glance at the sky told him that they had hours yet before dark would force the humans to stop for the night.

"Let's go," he said simply, shifting his burden to a more comfortable position. "If you all ride on Kirara, we can make it to last night's camp before dark." A small tugging at one sleeve made him look down to see Rin standing there, one hand still clasping his sleeve, eyes big and pleading. "What?" he asked, even as the others settled themselves onto a newly-transformed Kirara.

"Can Rin go with you, Lord Inuyasha?" she asked simply.

Refusal was on the tip of his tongue but a combination of her big eyes and the already-overloaded Kirara stopped it before he could give it voice. Besides, she was small. How much could she weigh him down, anyway?

A small sigh escaped him, then -- careful not to jostle the unconscious man in his arms -- Inuyasha knelt down to let Rin climb onto his back.

"Thank you, Lord Inuyasha!" she said as she took her place, wrapping her arms around his shoulders gently but firmly enough that he knew she would not fall even at the pace he would be moving. Had Sesshomaru ever--?

He stood, took a few steps to settle her weight. As he'd suspected, she weighed almost nothing. Another small step to settle Sesshomaru, then he was off. First at a walk, then a jog, sprint, finally settling into a ground-eating lope as he headed off in the direction of their last camp, Kirara following him in the air.

oOo

This time it seems that Sesshomaru was only out for the night, as the first spray of dawn's light across his face caused him to stir, a small sound of discontent escaping him even as he shifted in his blanket on the ground, a nearly imperceptible frown crossing his face even as he turned his back to the morning light.

If Inuyasha seemed to be first to Sesshomaru's side when he fell, Rin was the one to be there the second he showed signs of waking, and so it was.

"Lord Sesshomaru?" she called softly as he turned again, pulling the blanket up high around him; only the top of his head was visible above it.

The blanket lowered at her call, golden eyes blinked at her, confusion apparent in their depths. A small grimace and soft whimper as the sun caught his eyes. A small sniff, then a deeper one. He struggled to push himself upright, his movements oddly reminiscent of youth; even Rin was above the motions he used. Another sniff, dismay crossing his face, mouth turning down unhappily at the edges.

Around them, the camp roused. Inuyasha stirred up the fire, then left to hunt up some meat for breakfast. Fish, perhaps -- the camp was near enough to a stream full of them. Kagome put a pot of water near the fire to heat, then dug around in her bag for something to add to the coming meal. Miroku, Sango, and Shippou tended to the rest of the chores involved with packing up camp. Each spared the time to toss a glance Sesshomaru's way, checking on the youkai. He was awake, seemingly coherent. They would be on their way soon, then...

Sesshomaru's gaze flitted from one person to the next even as he strained to catch a familiar scent. Failing utterly, he turned dampening eyes to Rin who sat beside him. "Where's Mama? Where's Father?"

"Um..." Rin was at a loss. Didn't he remember what had happened since he had been hurt? But it seemed that he was different now than then; even younger. What had that last blow to the head done to him?

Her questions were left unanswered as he suddenly cried out, tears spilling free, his single hand shooting up to grab at his bandaged head. "Hurts," he whimpered, then fell back to the ground.

"Lord Sesshomaru!"

oOo

It was midmorning the next time the injured demon lord showed signs of waking.

At his side as always, Rin watched as he made a small sound, then as amber eyes blinked open, the remains of her last breakfast-fish on its stick in her hand quickly forgotten.

"Lord Sesshomaru?"

Inuyasha walked over at her softly-spoken words. Having been told of his half-brother's further regression by the others upon his return to camp that morning, he was ready to reprise his role as the injured lord's 'guardian'. "Sesshomaru?" he said gruffly.

Pain-narrowed eyes flicked from Rin to Inuyasha to the others who sat around the fire; near, but not as immediately so as the young girl and hanyou. A delicate sniff, followed quickly by a frown. "Father?" he called. When there was no reply, he looked to Inuyasha, ignoring Rin completely. "Hanyou, where is my father? You have his scent about you; tell me where he is. Why did he leave me here?"

Said hanyou blinked. That wasn't the sound of the frightened child the others had told him of. That was the sound of a young demon lord, yes, but one slightly older than he had been when he awoke after his initial injury. So: he was older than six in his mind, but other than that...?

And what was he supposed to say in answer to his half-brother's questions? Judging from his dismissal of Rin, his 'I'm superior to any human' attitude was well and truly starting to settle in, though it seemed he wasn't as anti-hanyou as he was uninjured.

"I--" Inuyasha started haltingly. What should he say...?

But he was barred from having to answer when Sesshomaru once again cried out in pain, clutching at his head, and graced the ground with his unconscious presence.

Inuyasha took the moment to unwind the bandages from around Sesshomaru's head, checking on the healing of the wounds there. He found that all were closed, the spectacular swelling and bruising around the area beginning to subside at last.

Could that be the reason behind the youkai's strange leaps in mental age? If so, would he be entirely better by the time those last signs of injury faded completely?

He could only hope. Estranged or not, he didn't want to think of the proud Sesshomaru having to somehow go through life being a different age every time he woke. With the enemies he had doubtless acquired during his lifetime, he surely wouldn't last long once word of his weakness got out.

Softly, so quietly that even Rin, sitting close beside him, didn't hear it, he spoke. "You have to get better, Sesshomaru." Then, as if to deny the concern that the words demonstrated, he continued. "I'm not gonna take care of you for the rest of my life!"

oOo

The rest of the day was wearing on the group camped with the injured youkai. Every now and again he would wake, and every time he was a different age; neither of which seemed to have any sort of pattern to them. One time, he was naught but a frightened child, tears pouring free; the next, he hurled Inuyasha across the clearing with a blast of demonic energy, snarling; only to curl up against the somewhat battered hanyou's chest and go back to sleep the next time.

oOo

The moon was rising in the twilight sky, its form a mirror to the one that graced the demon's forehead, when the lump of blankets that was Sesshomaru stirred.

Rin, worn out from the long and stressful day, had curled into a ball not far away from him. Inuyasha had covered the girl with a blanket after making sure that none of his companions saw him do it, tucked it in snugly around her.

The hanyou, keeping watch from his typical perch high in a tree, looked down into the camp as he heard the rustle of blankets from his half-brother's position. Their gazes met, gold-on-gold. One last glance around, one last sniff, and then Inuyasha jumped down, secure in the fact that there were no demons around to threaten.

Sesshomaru sat up, sparing the camp and the slumbering figures therein barely a passing glance before his expressionless gaze settled once more on Inuyasha, who was now making his way across the clearing toward him.

"Sesshomaru?" Inuyasha asked softly once he was close enough. He moved into a crouch not far from Sesshomaru; just far enough to be out of easy range of a swipe from those razor claws.

"Inuyasha," Sesshomaru acknowledged. A small pause, as if a fight was raging internally between his curiosity and pride. Curiosity won, apparently, for he turned once more to his sibling. "Where am I? How did I get here? This isn't the cliff-path we were walking, nor is it nearby."

Inuyasha was saved once again from having to answer awkward questions when Rin, her senses tuned in to her Lord even in sleep, woke and turned to look at the two of them. Seeing Sesshomaru sitting up and seemingly lucid, a huge grin crossed her face. Tossing the blanket aside, she launched herself at him, catching him about the shoulders in a tight hug. "Lord Sesshomaru! Are you well now, my Lord?"

Inuyasha watched, eyes wide with disbelief, as Sesshomaru's arm rose seemingly of its own accord and a wickedly-clawed hand gently stroked the girl's hair.

"Rin," he said in acknowledgment. "I am well. But why are we with the half-breed mongrel and his pack?"

Tears rose up in the girl's eyes, spilled free. "I'm so glad you're well, my Lord! I was so worried these last few days!" She hugged him tighter, though she took care not to let her tears drip down onto him and stain his silk. "I'm so glad!" She sniffled.

"Days?" Sesshomaru repeated emotionlessly. He looked from the girl in his arm back to the hanyou, who was still steaming over the 'half-breed mongrel' remark. "Days? Explain. Now."

Before Inuyasha could decide how to tackle the question -- did he mention it was him knocking that demon into the side of the cliff that brought the path down in the first place, or not? -- Rin took the choice from him.

"The path fell, my Lord," she said calmly, finally releasing her hold on his shoulders. Instead, she settled against his side, letting his arm wrap protectively around her. "You threw Rin out of danger, but then--" she couldn't get the words out, her throat closing at the thought even now that he was safe. "Then I dug and dug, and Inuyasha and his friends too. I was so scared, my Lord! It took so long to find you in the fallen stone. There was blood everywhere. It was terrible!"

Sesshomaru stroked her hair soothingly even as she hid her face against his chest. From her abbreviated account, he was able to put together what must have happened. "The cliff-path collapsed, burying this Sesshomaru?" he said at last. "I was injured?"

In an unspoken accord, both Rin and Inuyasha decided that they would never tell Sesshomaru that he had been anything other than unconscious the whole time.

Some things you just didn't tell a proud youkai lord.

END

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