"Why, why won't he just be nice instead of his usual mean and rude self all the time? I know he loves me; I know he wouldn't kiss me like he does, if he didn't love me; he is too honourable. Three little words, but they mean so much. I've said them to him; why won't he say them back?" Kagome looked across the hot spring to a bemused Sango who shook her head at the other girl. "He's still fussing at me going home as well. I had to sit him three times this time to make him let me go and it was only for two days. I wish I understood him, Sango. Sometimes I do and others..."

There was a subdued but definite chuckle from in the tree above the spring and a condescending voice:

"Humans" It said, "When will you ever realise that the hanyou is not human?" The girls looked straight up into the tree; where the owner of the voice was lying along a branch; his head languishing on his hand and propped by his arm, bent at the elbow. They knew him well enough to also be able to see that he was slightly annoyed as well as amused.

"Sesshoumaru, we are bathing and not dressed." Kagome was most indignant at the 'spying' Lord.

"As I can see; are these some of the words you were complaining about Inuyasha not saying? The obvious ones?" Then he answered himself. "No, of course they aren't. If Inuyasha were sitting here or anywhere, that he could see you; he would be 'sat' into oblivion. You do not make it easy for him to protect you, do you?" This was said with a hint of disdain. "I do not intend you any physical harm anymore Miko, you know this."

"We still do not like being spied on when we are not dressed. Where is Inuyasha anyway?"

"Sitting and sulking; in the charge of the monk. He is human tonight; though you had both forgotton. Hence, I thought I would guard you."

"That's just what I mean, why didn't he remind us?"

"He doesn't like reminding himself; let alone others, Kagome. We should have remembered for him, like Miroku did." remarked Sango.

"Well, doesn't he trust us by now? We have all been together for three years and yet he can still be so babyish, anyone would think that he didn't know how to talk to us."

Kagome sounded more whingy than she normally did and Sesshoumaru took a discreet sniff noticing that she was in heat. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt his brother for Sesshoumaru to explain a few things for him.

"Miko, you wished for 'just three little words' from my brother? Which words would these be, that are so important to you?"

"It's nothing Sesshoumaru, not for you to be concerned with anyway."

"I deduce you wish for words of affection from my brother; from your earlier remarks. Did you not say that you knew of his feelings, why would you need the words as well?"

"Because...he manages the nasty and cross ones enough...I just want to hear some nice ones that's all."

"Inuyasha does not trust words, they have all been used as weapons and are therefore dangerous to him; he knows not, of any words that do not hurt." Kagome and Sango could both tell that Sesshoumaru was speaking seriously to them and not trying to be clever at their expense. It made Kagome curious to understand fully just what he meant. Would he help her to understand her hanyou?

"Please explain Sesshoumaru, you said we were not realising that Inuyasha is a hanyou; but I do not care what he is, it is Inuyasha that I love."

"I will endeavour to tell you my meaning for that statement Miko. You treat Inuyasha, half the time as though he is a surly human with a human outlook on life. He is not; but neither does he have a total youkai understanding, however you tend to ignore the half of him that only understands as youkai. Slayer, you should understand him better after the time that you have known him. Perhaps you do, but do not wish to recognise it."

"Help us understand; please Lord Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha is important to us all, but especially me...I love him."

"I understood that you all 'love' him."

"We do, but you know what I mean."

"You mean, you wish to mate with him; do you not?" He watched as the girl changed colour rapidly before she nodded. "You do not trust his ways of informing you of his feelings?"

"How can she Lord Sesshoumaru? He has only kissed her and in the same way as he kissed his first love, Kikyou." Sango was getting a bit cross for her friend.

"He is certainly inexperienced in his actions, I expect it to have been no more than a pressing of his lips to yours." Sesshoumaru smirked.

"He doesn't know any more than that, but I don't mind and anyway; he didn't kiss Kikyou, Sango; she kissed him and that only after she became a clay model."

"That is because he is also very young and doesn't know what to do; to go further than the initial stages. Were he brought up in a youkai household, Inuyasha would not have been long out of the nursery."

"He is not a baby, Sesshoumaru." Kagome was indignant.

"Certainly he is not." Sesshoumaru agreed. "But neither is he an adult in youkai terms. Were he human, he would have only just been of age to marry. As it is, in his unique circumstances, he has had to grow up fast and he now feels that he wishes to mate."

"Why will he not say so then? I have given him opportunity and I have told him I love him often enough. Surely he could say the same thing to me?" Kagome pleaded. The Youkai Lord looked at her and deliberated.

"He does not understand the meaning of the word 'love' in the same way you do, nor the meaning of any such 'human' words. They have all been used to do harm; as I have said and he trusts none of them."

"That cannot be true Sesshoumaru, not now anyway; we have taught him the meaning of love and friendship." Sango was fuming at the Lord. "I can understand what you mean, he would never hear nice words or kindly tones when he was a child. His understandings of the words hanyou, worthless, filthy, tainted..."

"STOP!!!" Kagome was getting upset. "We all know how he learned the meanings of those words, but there would have been others; he even knows that 'brother' has a better meaning than it used to." She looked meaningfully at Sesshoumaru. He nodded.

"He learned the true meaning of 'brotherly' from yourselves and how you both feel about your younger brothers; it is true, but not how it relates to himself. He would only know how he could treat someone as a brother. The experience is not his own. I aim to change that but it has not happened yet."

"Well what about 'love' then? He has known love." Sesshoumaru contemplated Kagome's word; she so wanted to prove that Inuyasha knew the meaning, so that he could apply it to his own feelings for herself. "He loved his mother and Kikyou." 'he even loves you'. Kagome did not say the last aloud, but Sesshoumaru heard it just the same.

"Love and rejection go hand in hand for my brother Miko. From myself who rejected the love he offered and crushed the love I had at first for him; to his mother, whose love ended in the ultimate abandonment when she died; leaving him still a small pup. The other Miko? Love was divided and went hand in hand with abhorance. She could only love him as human; not as a complete individual.

"But I find the need to correct myself; he does know the unconditional love of two beings. Midoriko's fire neko that now accompanies you, is the only one with whom he trusts his tears and your mother, Miko; loves him as if he were her own son; for which I too, am grateful."

"How do you know these things Sesshoumaru? How do you know what he feels for my mother and about him and Kirara, when we don't?"

"I have often watched over my brother; I hear him when he talks to the two-tail, he tells her everything and she is there to comfort him when he is alone in the night and watching over you all; as you sleep."

"Well, what about the love of friendship then; he knows the meaning of having friends doesn't he?" Sango asserted.

"Friend is one of the hardest words for him to understand, Slayer. When he was a very small pup, he knew that friends were not something he had; as a hanyou in his mother's care he had not companions. When she died, 'friend' became synonymous with it's opposite meaning for Inuyasha. 'Traitor' would be how he understands the word. I saw with my own eyes one time how he was lured out of his hiding place; by a woman who got down to his eye level and smiling, held out a rice ball to him.

"She encouraged him to come and get the food; calling herself his friend and using her own child to seduce him to her and then when he finally smiled himself and went over, he was grabbed by several of the men and then beaten and kicked while everyone cheered them on. They set the trap wanting to punish him for stealing from the rubbish heap, not caring that the child was starving.

"He was about eight years old and his mother had not long died. It was the first time I had seen him since he'd been on his own. When I saw how he was treated there, I saw to it that the village ceased to exist. There were other times as a small whelp, when he was so lonely that he would risk trying to make friends with people in the villages around; but the results for him were always the same. They found it amusing to allow the pup to hope and then he would be driven away.

"I know, I too am to blame; for some of his suffering, but I always made sure when I was near that he would come across food; at least, until he could hunt and survive."

"But that was when he was a child Sesshoumaru, he has learned he has friends now with us; he can trust us can't he?" Kagome's voice was so sad that even Sesshoumaru felt sorrow that he could not yet reassure her.

"The meaning of the word 'friend' will not go away so easily for him, Kagome. It gained it's meaning for Inuyasha during his formative years; I do not think he has seen a different meaning to the word as yet."

"How can you say that, we are his friends; all of us and he trusts us. What are you trying to say, Sesshoumaru? You are making Kagome ill with your suppositions."

"You wish me to elucidate further? Very well. Friends in general to Inuyasha are people who are nice one minute and not the next. They forget his excellent hearing . They call him idiot, fool, bastard. They blame him completely and regardless when one of their number decides to leave and they abuse him, using demeaning language or laugh at his insecurities; ridiculing him, when he feels he may be left alone. They blame him for his loyalty to a former friend because it hurts his newer friend. He does not understand the meaning of all this and it confuses him. His youkai is completely loyal to both and cannot change.

"He is teased by a younger 'friend' mercilessly, yet is the only one 'disciplined' and is the only one who is ever punished when another 'friend' doesn't like what he does or says; because he is the only one with a rosary around his neck. He gives unceasingly of himself; unfailingly and yet he is rarely thanked, but is expected to be grateful to everyone else." Sesshoumaru stopped, he could see the two very distraught girls and wondered if he had overdone his tirade.

"It's all true, he does not see us as his friends." Was Sango's horrified whisper.

"Is it true that when I go home, you all blame him for drivng me away?" Kagome choked when Sango nodded.

"Not always, but...we do tease him; he sits by the well waiting for you and it's because he pretends that he doesn't. I had never thought about how he would feel. I should also have remembered his hearing...We can be very unfair."

"But he knows I always come back. Sesshoumaru; He knows."

"Inuyasha's head knowing something and his heart being afraid to be alone are two seperate things." Sesshoumaru knew that his point had been made. "Now you see why words are not trusted by him. They are only ever hurtful."

"What can we do to help him, to show him the proper meaning of friend and love. Because we do all love him Sesshoumaru, despite what you may think." Sango said quietly "...and Kagome should remove the necklace." Kagome nodded in response.

"It is not I who would need convincing though; is it. But do not take all I have said wrongly. Inuyasha is no fool; he knows that you all care for him, it's just that he doesn't use the collective word friends to describe you all. Friends for him has no good meaning but Sango, is strong and brave; loyal to her brother and her friends. Sango can be trusted. Miroku the same, trustable in battle and will give good guidance and is loyal. Shippou is an undisciplined kit who tries hard and is loving to his adopted Mama but mainly a whelp who still needs nurture."

Sango wiped her eyes and understood. They were not seen as a group by Inuyasha; but as individuals making up his pack, with strengths and weaknesses. The youkai way; rather than the group of loosely strung together human friends. Sesshoumaru agreed with her, now she was understanding that Inuyasha was not totally human and had more youkai tendencies than they'd ever considered.

"What about me; Sesshoumaru, does he hate me for the subjugation?" Kagome's voice could hardly be heard.

"You know he does not hate you Miko, he loves you but he does not know how to use the word. The 'word' is meaningless to him but he tries to show you of his affection. Youkai have so many more ways of finding things out than humans. He knows your moods and feelings by the aura you have or by your scents, he knows when you are happy or sad. This goes for all of you. Inuyasha can tell in the same way I can, what your motives are; for what you do.

"He knows if you lie or are doing harm. This is why he can usually see past all the words that you use. He knows that you do not mean him harm when you 'tease' because he has seen you protect him as well. The trouble is he also tends to forget that you cannot use all these senses and he is has not much self esteem to convince himself that you really care for him.

"Friend as a word means nothing. It is how you prove yourself that matters and is what he sees and goes by. As do I. Had you caused him harm at any time, without good cause; or I had scented deceit in any of you, I would have disposed of you at the time; whether or not I and my brother were reconciled. As for you, Kagome should you really wish my brother to understand that you love him and wish to be his mate; you will need to also treat him as a hanyou, human and youkai combined. Tell him that you love him exclusively by all means; but, you must show him too and I am sure he will respond how you want then; once he is sure it is what you want."

Kagome was ashamed of herself much in the same way as Sango; for not fully taking Inuyasha's youkai into consideration when they were all together. She learned about snuffling and licking Inuyasha's neck and for gentle touches to the skin of his hand or face. Exposing her neck slightly and nuzzling under his chin. All these things would give a clear indication of her feelings; that the youkai part of Inuyasha could not ignore and would not mistake.

Sessshoumaru heard a low growl behind him and nodded his head, then with the barest rustle of silk he was gone from the tree and the girls got out of the spring and dressed; with a lot on their minds and needing to discuss what they had learned with Miroku. Sesshoumaru meanwhile followed the firecat in answer to her call.

"You feel I have betrayed my brother; do you not Kirara?" Sesshoumaru enquired and Kirara growled. "I know I am younger than you, Neko and that you are very wise; but I know my brother and he is getting weary. He does not know how to fully explain himself to his pack and does not do himself justice. They are all so young and still inexperienced in life. The humans needed to be taught a sharp lesson or my brother will end up alone again."

There was another grumble from Kirara.

"You agree. I am glad of that, I have spoken far more than I normally do and have now interfered with my brother's life, but he has proved himself worthy and deserves to be happy. I think that he will be now." Sesshoumaru left and went silently back through the trees. From his vantage point he remained hidden as Inuyasha and the monk sat together talking with low voices and awaiting the girls arrival. He stood guard over them all until the dawn when Inuyasha transformed and he smiled when he heard the thanks muttered by his brother in his direction. Things would improve for them all now; of that, he was absolutely certain.

The End