A/N – Well, I've seen too many Sesshoumaru-turns-into-a-child fics. And so what do I do? I write one myself, thereby increasing the number of them out there. However, this will most definitely not be a cute, fluffy fic. Oh no.
Disclaimer – I don't own Inuyasha. I would like Sesshoumaru. However, I will settle for my DVDs and my fanfics.
Sesshoumaru coughed, the blood rising thick and metallic in his throat. He stumbled, falling heavily to his knees, catching himself on his hands, and behind him, he could hear the low, coarse laughter and obscene comments of the youkai bandits who had attacked him. He snarled, pushed himself back up, and they kicked his hands (his hands!) out from under him, sending him crashing back to the ground. Another brutal kick came, this time straight into his broken ribs; he gasped, an involuntary whuff of air –
"The great and mighty Sesshoumaru of the West," the bandit leader spoke, his voice rich with derision and scorn. "I thought you would be taller."
They roared with laughter. Once more, he picked himself up, snarling, his eyes bleeding red and his face distorting with the beginnings of his transformation. These petty fools dared…! But the leader only tangled one hand in his long white hair and lifted, pulling Sesshoumaru off his feet, holding him, dangling a good foot above the ground.
"How old are you now, Sesshoumaru-sama? Twelve years old? Thirteen? Oh, don't show your teeth at me, whelp –" he smashed his fist into Sesshoumaru's face, grinning delightedly when something crunched and blood ran, bright crimson, "you don't frighten me. Like this, you're nothing more than bluff and bravado."
Deliberately, Sesshoumaru wrapped his hands around the leader's wrist and dug his claws in, releasing his poison. In this weak, immature body, it was not nearly as potent as before, but it was strong enough to do real damage – the leader roared in pain and aggravation, shaking his arm, trying to dislodge Sesshoumaru's claws, but he hung on with all the bloody-minded determination he could muster. Finally, a flailing, powerful fist caught him a glancing blow and he went flying, crashing into the rocky ground while the leader clutched his forearm and swore viciously, his eyes feral red and maddened with pain.
For the third time, Sesshoumaru dragged himself back up to his feet, wavering on unsteady legs. He grinned mirthlessly, mocking the leader of these petty, opportunistic scavengers who thought they could take him on, weakened and in a child's body or not. As he forced himself to stand straight despite his shattered ribs, he saw them regroup around their leader, their eyes suddenly uncertain as they watched him – Sesshoumaru, the Great Lord of the West, who, in the chaos following his father's death, had taken power not by right of inheritance, but through a massacre that had lasted for a full week.
"He's just a whelp!" the leader snarled, the last vestiges of his humanity vanishing in his bestial rage. "He has no power. His ribs are broken, he can hardly stand; his strength is nothing but illusion. Kill him!"
"B-but…" the followers hung back, clearly unwilling to trust their leader's word. Sesshoumaru fixed them with his best murderous glare, knowing that his life depended on their fear and awe. He could not afford to die here.
He would not die here.
"Fools! I'll do it myself, then!" The leader, his clawed, partially melted arm already turning black, drew his sword and advanced heavily on Sesshoumaru. "Come on!" he shouted. "We'll all rush him together!" Caught up in the mad, reckless bravado of their leader's charge, the reluctant followers drew their swords too.
Sesshoumaru drew in a deep, deep breath, flexing his clawed hands, preparing himself for the violence and agony to come.
Later that day, Inuyasha lifted his head and sniffed at the air, his eyes narrowed in speculation.
"What is it?" Miroku asked, gripping his staff tighter. "What do you smell?"
"Blood," Shippou chipped in from his seat on Kagome's shoulder. "Lots of blood." The young kit shivered, drawing in on himself; automatically, Kagome lifted a hand and petted him, soothing him.
"Sesshoumaru's blood," Inuyasha growled. "Stronger than I've ever…" He broke into a run, heading for the trees.
"Inuyasha!" Kagome shouted after him, but he was too focused to hear her. Scowling, she got on her bike and pedalled furiously after him, Sango and Miroku following behind her.
Inuyasha's whole attention was focused on the blood scent. Why was Sesshoumaru bleeding so heavily, and what the hell was he doing so far from his normal territory? K'so. Things were bad enough already, without throwing Sesshoumaru's problems into the mix – and anything that could cause Sesshoumaru serious trouble was very, very bad.
Following his nose, he came up on a small, secluded clearing, saturated with the scent of blood. As he stepped out of the trees he tensed, half-expecting to see his half-brother's disdainful glare, but instead he saw a white, glimmering form in the shadows, stained crimson with blood and gore, a solid red hand convulsively gripping Tenseiga's hilt –
"Fuck!" Inuyasha hissed.
The ghostly white form jerked, the hand on Tenseiga's hilt clenched, and a primal shiver ran down Inuyasha's back as he watched Sesshoumaru struggle to rise to his feet. Never, in all his life, had he ever seen Sesshoumaru so weak –
And then there was a soft, unmistakable gasp of pain, and Inuyasha's all-powerful, indestructible brother wavered, swayed, and then crumbled into a dead faint.
"Merciful Buddha!" Miroku muttered, for the fourth time. Inuyasha sighed, but forbore from snapping at him: it was a sign of how rattled the priest truly was – how rattled they all were – that they could not seem to absorb the truth of this extraordinary development.
Something very, very strange had happened to Sesshoumaru.
He'd suffered the shock of a lifetime, dragging the crumpled, blood-soaked body out into the bright-lit clearing. Instead of the tall, elegant form he'd expected, the body was that of a young inuyoukai, barely out of childhood; the blood was Sesshoumaru's, the scent was Sesshoumaru's, and it bore all of Sesshoumaru's markings, but it had none of his battle scars, and two hands –
And then Inuyasha had remembered an old, half-forgotten episode from his youth, when Sesshoumaru had been his protector rather than his tormentor. When stalking birds, Inuyasha, he remembered the cool, impassive voice saying, remember that they, too, have claws – see, here. I was your age – barely seven – and thought that I could raid a magpie's nest on my own. I still have the scars…
Four faded silver lines on his left forearm, the arm that Inuyasha had cut away.
"He has been turned into a child," Kagome had said, voicing the thought for all of them. Voicing it, however, had not made it any less incredible, and they all spared a moment to stare at the limp, small body, as if it could give them the answers they sought.
Now, an hour later, they had set up camp a few miles away from the clearing, away from the blood scent, and Kagome had done her best to patch up the child Sesshoumaru's wounds. They were deep, some of them quite serious, despite the obvious healing powers of Tenseiga and the boy's own body. To Inuyasha's eyes, that meant only one thing – he'd been in a fight. And then – because he was Sesshoumaru, and would never camp near the gory aftermath of his various slaughters – he had flown, or walked, or crawled quite a distance before collapsing under those trees. Just to make sure, he'd sent Sango out to scout the area, to try to find out where those injuries had occurred, and how.
Soft, suppressed groans and signs of movement jolted Inuyasha out of his daze and focused his attention on the boy. He was waking up. "How much do you think he remembers?" Kagome asked quietly, putting a gentle hand on his brow.
Inuyasha frowned. "What do you mean? Why should he have forgotten anything?"
"Well, surely, if he's been turned back into a child, then maybe his memory has regressed, too." For a brief moment, her eyes softened and she smoothed the boy's – Sesshoumaru's! – soft, white hair away from his face with almost maternal care.
"Uh, Kagome," he began cautiously, exchanging bemused looks with Miroku. But before he could embark upon a very delicate course, he was thankfully interrupted.
"Kagome," Sango said quietly, stripping off her exterminator's gloves as she strode into the campsite, Kirara and Shippou riding on her shoulders. "I scouted out the area, following the blood trail back to the beginning. There are four dead youkai – scavengers, by the look of them – in a ravine some two miles north of where we found him." She gestured downwards to indicate the child Sesshoumaru, and for a moment, her mouth tightened. "They were hacked crudely apart, with acid burns all over them; it was as if their attacker knew what he was doing, but didn't have the power – or the skill – to do it quickly and neatly."
Inuyasha grunted. He knew what she was talking about; it took time, physical strength, and endless practice until killing became an ingrained reflex. Sesshoumaru might know, intellectually, how to massacre four bandits without breaking a sweat, but if his body was weak, unpracticed, and already seriously injured…
Kagome's hand froze on Sesshoumaru's hair. Very, very carefully she lifted it, her expression horrified as she realized that she had been petting him.
"I suggest, miko, that you keep your hands to yourself, next time," the young boy said, opening his eyes and forcing himself up to a sitting position. His voice was unbroken, and quite pure, and his ashen-pale, childish features were ridiculously young. And, although he tried to hide it, Inuyasha could see just how much his injuries pained him, his normally fluid movements slow and sluggish.
But then his flat, golden eyes met Inuyasha's – and they were not the eyes of a child, or of an innocent. They were killer's eyes, showing a killer'smind trapped in a child's body.
A/N – Next chapter: Explanations. This chapter is largely unedited, sketched out on a whim during a particularly boring bus ride. I just got sick of all the fluffy helpless child!Sesshoumaru stories out there. There are some that are very well done, and others that are not so good. So here is my ten cents worth.