Written for the livejournal community iy-no-kakera.
Sesshoumaru's mother watched her son as he bound across the courtyard, a slight smile on her face.
"You've adjusted to fatherhood well."
Inu no Taishou frowned and glanced at her. "I wish you were around more often."
"In an ideal world..." she began, trailing off and looking away guiltily. Inu no Taishou sighed.
In an ideal world, Sesshoumaru would call him uncle, not father.
Inu no Taishou's only sibling was a younger girl, mild tempered and beautiful in anyone's eyes, save her brother's, who saw her simply as his adorable baby sister.
When she came to him and buried her head in his lap, sobbing and pleading for his help least their father kill her, he smoothed her hair and kissed her temple.
"I will take care of it."
His first instinct was to take her to his castle in the far west, but she clung to his sleeves and begged him to reconsider; his castle was full of servants that, before serving him, had served their father. She did not trust them to keep it a secret, not even Myouga, who would tell anyone anything if it meant his life.
Though he trusted Myouga, Inu no Taishou was inclined to agree. They agreed on the east instead, where few were affiliated with the inu daiyoukai.
He sought their father's permission to enjoy his sister's company for her last year before matrimony and, once gaining his approval, began making arrangements for their departure.
It was only when they were seated on the two-headed dragon hybrid, far enough away from their father's castle that Inu no Taishou was sure they were not being spied upon, that he questioned her.
"You haven't told me the father's name."
His sister pressed her forehead against his shoulder and sighed, winding her arms around his abdomen and holding on tightly, squeezing. She murmured, and if it were not for his inhuman hearing, he would have missed the answer.
A year to the day, Inu no Taishou sent her home to their father and her betrothed and returned home himself, a child at tow he declared to be his son.
He told the flustered household the mother had died in childbirth.
Sometimes Inu no Taishou felt things had gone too smoothly. Sometimes he felt someone must know, and were simply waiting for the opportune time to expose his sister and himself for the liars they were.
Sometimes he itched with the desire to tell somebody the truth.
Were they really so blind? Sesshoumaru's blue-on-red eyes were a strong trait among the dragons, as was his poison, and the coloration and number of his face stripes. He was so much faster, so much stronger, so much thinner and flexible than the inu daiyoukai.
He must take after his mother, the staff agreed, and Inu no Taishou thanked whoever was listening at the moment that Sesshoumaru favored his mother's side of the family enough to blend in.
Sesshoumaru grew up the prince of the west, the heir of the lord of the dogs, instead of the illegitimate child of a cutthroat cave dweller and a well-bred but ultimately powerless woman.
Inu no Taishou was fond of his nephew, but he had to remind himself he was just that: his nephew. He was one of the only two that knew the truth. He couldn't forget it.
Inu no Taishou's sister was married off to a warlord in the southwest, a youkai that had a mind for battle strategies and nothing else. He was happily oblivious that his wife had carried another's child to term, and celebrated each of their children with vigor.
She came to visit Inu no Taishou as often as she was allowed, and doted on Sesshoumaru whenever she was around. The staff said how nice it was, that she looked after her nephew because his mother was dead, and the sad twinge to her smile was lost to everyone but her brother.
"I hate it," she confessed one afternoon, while Sesshoumaru played with his half-siblings-cousins, "when he calls me Aunt. I hate it. Do you hate it when he calls you Father?"
Sesshoumaru asked him once, in childhood curiosity, what his mother had been like.
"She was," Inu no Taishou replied, "very dear to me."
When it became known that Izayoi was pregnant, and Inu no Taishou would be marrying her so that the child would not be born out of wedlock, Sesshoumaru had been angry with him. He'd demanded to know why he was doing it, and quickly became fed up with the half-answers he was given.
But what was he supposed to tell him? "I want a child."?
"Sesshoumaru really seems to hate me," Izayoi commented once, a hand pressed to her swelling belly and an anxious look on her face.
"Do not worry about him."
"But," she pressed on, "shouldn't you talk to him, Inu no Taishou? Shouldn't it matter what your son thinks?"
He didn't answer her.
He tried to convince Sesshoumaru to accept Izayoi, and Inuyasha, but Sesshoumaru would not be budged from his position.
"I inherited your power," he said stubbornly, "but not your weakness for humanity."
Inu no Taishou thought of the human and youkai settlements Ryuukossei had set ablaze without a second thought and his lips curled into a sardonic smile.
"Yes," he agreed, "You're the son of the strongest youkai in Japan."
Inu no Taishou had always feared someone would sell his sister out to his father, and that she would be executed for her liaison with the marauder of the dragons.
He had never actually thought about someone selling them out to the marauder of the dragons himself. When he was staring the dragon down, face-on-face-to-face, he wondered how it could have possibly slipped his mind.
"He's my son," Ryuukossei challenged, and Inu no Taishou pictured Sesshoumaru's tightly wound world unraveling, pictured Ryuukossei using Sesshoumaru's power - and Sesshoumaru was powerful, not like him - to raven the countryside, pictured Sesshoumaru not caring and that was the worst part of it. It occurred to him that he could cede his claim over the boy, could go back to his wife and son - son - and be content... but...
"No, he isn't."
It was the knowledge that he had been his sister's lover, however briefly, that stopped him from killing the dragon. While he was pressing him into the mountainside, while Ryuukossei was snarling as the spell started to take affect, Inu no Taishou glanced at his face.
Sesshoumaru had his eyes.
Myouga sought Sesshoumaru out, after the Inu no Taishou had perished and his grave was safely tucked away, and he fluttered about on his outstretched palm, distressed. He threw the usual expressions around, like 'Better place' and 'Gone but not forgotten.'
Sesshoumaru's expression remained passive, looking off toward the west. "He knew he couldn't survive a fight against a dragon. Why did he go?"
Myouga paused, rocking back and forth on his feet. "I heard, Sesshoumaru-sama, that Ryuukossei challenged his power because of a woman and a child he had no right having."
Sesshoumaru sneered and, like the rest of the world, misinterpreted.
"What a fool; some whore and a mixed blood bastard didn't deserve it."