Disclaimer: No, don't own any part of Inuyasha.

Epilogue

Inuyasha leaned against a tree. A cool breeze rolled idly through the air. Another perfect spring morning. One of few before summer arrived. In the distance, his brother knelt beside Rin and helped her to dress in her kimono. Sesshomaru had gone early that morning once Inuyasha had fully recovered from being poisoned to bathe and dress himself properly. He looked strange without the usual armor and fur pelt, smaller and somehow more like a person.

His features were still arranged in that stoic mask, but there was a softer quality about the eyes now. A warmth in them he'd never seen before. The fatherly way Sesshomaru tended to the girl reared a pang of longing in his heart. Just last night he had a young pup to love and protect. But it was for the best he knew. He wouldn't deprive Rin of what she had come to view as a father just for his own desires. But that didn't mean he didn't miss the pup.

His brother tied the girl's obi and sent her on ahead to village. Then the youkai started walking towards him, still barefoot as Inuyasha had not thought to bring his boots. When his brother was close, Inuyasha reached into his fire rat and pulled out the tiny footy pajamas. He smirked inwardly as Sesshomaru's eyes widened fractionally in recognition. He dabbed his eye with the pajamas and with an exaggerated sniff said, "They grow up so fast."

As much as he tried to fight it, Sesshomaru smiled slightly at the jest. "You spoiled me."

Inuyasha shrugged and tossed him the pajamas. Sesshomaru examined them as if quietly amazed that he had ever fit into something so small. "You probably needed it. I've never known a spoiled brat to fight so hard to appear strong and keep from crying. I get the feeling your childhood wasn't as easy as I always thought."

Sesshomaru's half smile vanished. "Perhaps not, though I imagine yours was likely much worse."

"You would know if you'd been there," Inuyasha fired back, not quite in anger, but close. His voice lowered to a whisper, "And if you had been, it probably wouldn't have been so bad."

He looked at the pajamas again. "Was I such a disappointment, when I was that size? Or Rin's age?"

"Inuyasha," Sesshomaru said. He opened his mouth and closed it again without saying anything and dropped his gaze to the pajamas in his hands as well.

"Yeah, nothing to say as usual," Inuyasha said bitterly, then turned and stormed back in the direction of the village. "Well, let's go get your stuff. I know the girl is eager to have you revive those vassals of yours. We need to get back to the hunt for Naraku, too."

Instead of the silence of the youkai following him, there was a sudden wind and a spike in his brother's aura. Inuyasha's step faltered. What the hell?

His hand drifted to Tetsusaiga. While he hadn't expected them to be best pals, he'd thought he would have a bit more time before having to fight. But if that was what Sesshomaru wanted.

Just before he could flip Tetsusaiga free of it's sheath, a hot humid breeze brushed the back of his neck and something warm, wet and oddly rough grazed his arm, shoulder, and the entire side of his face, leaving a sticky trail behind. Inuyasha stared at his now slobbery hand and wiped the side of his face with his dry sleeve.

He whirled around to see what the heck that had been, unwilling to believe the evidence without seeing. Sesshomaru, in his true form, stood behind him. His massive maw was lowered to the ground and his tongue shot out once more to lick his other side. Inuyasha threw up his hands and tried to back away, but Sesshomaru shot a paw out and drew him gently back to himself.

"What- what are you doing?" Inuyasha exclaimed, pushing against the large white paws in vain.

Sesshomaru responded in a deep growling voice, though Inuyasha wasn't sure if he actually heard it or felt it in his head. "What I should have done before, pup."

Then before Inuyasha could say or do anything else, he was lifted gently by those massive fangs and deposited on the nape of Sesshomaru's neck, up to his thighs almost in the thick, white fur.

"Hold on," Sesshomaru instructed, then the world dropped away in a blur of color and wind. Inuyasha almost fell backwards, but caught himself with fistfuls of his brother's fur. Squinting against the wind, he could just make out the forest rushing past like a green ribbon. He spat as an insect splattered against his face. He swore he heard his brother chuckle and then that rumbling voice told him, "Stay down, pup."

Inuyasha obeyed, and the wind almost ceased as he pressed himself into his brother's fur. Muscles bunched and released beneath him in a smooth rhythm as his brother sprinted across the land. This wasn't bad at all. It was warm and softer than anything he'd ever felt before, including the odd blankets from Kagome's time. He felt himself being lulled to sleep almost, and shook himself awake.

This was not a time for a nap. As far as he knew, his tightly wound older brother had just snapped and kidnapped him for this weird little joyride across Japan. He had Tetsusaiga should he need it, but for some reason he didn't really feel threatened right now.

"Where are we going?" Inuyasha finally asked.

"Soon you shall see."

Well, that was helpful.

But Sesshomaru was right. As the mountains drew closer, Sesshomaru slowed to a jog, then a walk. Nestled against the curve of the forest and the slope of the mountain, Inuyasha noticed a trail of steam rising into the air. It was larger than any he had seen before, looking more like steam rising from a lake on a cool morning than a hot spring, though his nose told him it was truly a hot spring. All around them a pristine, green field stretched, speckled with various wildflowers. Inuyasha's first thought was that Kagome and Rin would love this place.

Sesshomaru picked his way carefully over to the hot spring. At its edge, he turned and plucked Inuyasha gently from his back, sank to the ground and settled the hanyou between his front paws.

"Disrobe," he ordered firmly, but without anger.

Inuyasha coughed and backed against the wall of his brother's paws. "Wh-what?"

In response, Sesshomaru tugged on the fire rat with his teeth, until Inuyasha pushed the large muzzle away and said, "Okay, okay, I can do it myself. You've gone insane, you know. And don't forget I have Tetsusaiga."

"Baka, be glad I will not throw you in as you did to me," Sesshomaru's growling voice told him.

"Are you talking, or are you in my head?" Inuyasha demanded as he slid out of the fire rat. " And don't look! I'm not a pup like you were."

A sudden puff of air ruffled his hair as his brother snorted. "You are a pup. Barely two hundred years old. And you have nothing I have not seen before."

Inuyasha jerked up the waistband of his hakamas that he was about to lower. "Keh, close your eyes."

He waited until those large red eyes closed, then quickly removed the last of his clothing. But the path to the hot spring was cut off by the forepaws of his brother.

Turning to make sure those eyes were still shut, Inuyasha jumped over his brother's paws and waded up to his waist in the steamy water.

Sesshomaru opened his eyes and growled softly. "And I suppose you think the water is too murky to see through?"

Inuyasha blushed and ducked down to his chin in the water before he realized the water was indeed very murky and also steamy. "Jerk!"

Sesshomaru stood back up and stretched, very much like a dog. He lifted his left paw and flexed it. He jumped around a few times, surprisingly agile for his size. Inuyasha watched his brother testing out the new limb, looking much like he had at their father's grave only not angry, and a thought struck him.

He smirked dangerously and said, "Eh, Sesshomaru, how old are you?"

The giant dog landed and froze. He looked down at Inuyasha for a moment, then stepped lightly over the hanyou and out into the center of the hot spring and sank down. The waters rolled and several large waves nearly knocked Inuyasha off-balance, but he would not be deterred.

"Back when we were fighting in father's bones over the Tetsusaiga. You transformed then, inside Father. And you could walk around easily on his shoulder." Those red eyes narrowed, but Inuyasha couldn't stop smiling. "You called me pup and said I was barely two hundred. How old are you, Sesshomaru? You're still considered a pup, too, aren't you?"

"You're filthy, pup. Must I teach you how to wash yourself?" Sesshomaru said and sent a wave of water over him with a swipe of his paw.

Inuyasha sputtered back to the surface and wiped his waterlogged bangs out of his eyes. "Jerk. Fine, don't answer me, but your silence speaks volumes, pup."

Sesshomaru snorted again and rolled over to wet his back.

"So," Inuyasha continued, scrubbing his hair with his claws. When in Rome, as they say. "What is this place? Your own private bathtub?"

"This place has been a family retreat as long as I can remember," Sesshomaru explained, rolling back over to his belly and laying his head on his paws. "Father brought me here when I was young. It was a rare treat, but one of the few things I did and still enjoy. You asked me earlier why I was not there for you as a pup, and that I cannot answer to your satisfaction with any good reason other than bitterness over the death of Father and what that did to my own plans. I did not even harbor any ill will towards you until I discovered that Father bequeathed Tetsusaiga to you."

Inuyasha sniffed indignantly. "There was a reason for that," he muttered, but Sesshomaru ignored his comment.

"Despite my actions towards you, you not only save my life when you have a chance to end it, but risk your own to comfort me and restore me when I was helpless. Perhaps it is your human half that makes you so sentimental, but that does not excuse my heartlessness. When you were small, alone and in need, I turned my back to you. I cannot turn back time and be a better brother to you as a pup, but I can show you some of that attention now. I only wish I could treat you as you have me these past few days."

Inuyasha could have sworn he heard Tetsusaiga pulse from where he'd left it on shore, but figured it was just Sesshomaru's claws hitting something. If there were danger, Sesshomaru would likely be the first to know. He chuckled and dipped his head under the water to smooth it out. "Keh, I don't think I've ever heard you speak this much at once. Are you sure that being a pup didn't do something to your brain?"

"Do not think I shall do this often, Inuyasha. As I said, this is a rare treat even for myself. This is something shared only with those of our family. I have not even brought Rin here. And I speak so openly because we are in private. And now, pup, do as Father taught me to do when in this place. Be silent and think."

And much to Inuyasha's surprise, he did. He floated in the water for an hour at least. There was no sound aside from the quiet noises of the wilderness and the rhythmic breathing of his brother as the giant dog lay in the hot spring. Suddenly, his brother stood and jumped out of the spring, nearly washing Inuyasha out with the waves, and shook himself.

Once he regained his feet, Inuyasha did the same and dressed in his fire rat. Then they were sprinting back across the countryside, though Inuyasha knew to keep down inside his brother's fur this time. He almost did fall asleep, when his brother stopped suddenly and dropped him gently into a bush and returned to his humanoid form.

Inuyasha climbed out of the bush, yawning broadly and asked, "What are you doing?"

Sesshomaru ran his claws through his hair, then pulled his fur, boots, and armor from where they had been hidden. He put Tokijin beside Tenseiga, let the fur curl over his shoulder, then carried his armor to where the barrier was protecting Ah Un and Jaken.

"Oh," Inuyasha said quietly and watched as his brother drew Tenseiga. "But the barrier…"

He was going to warn Sesshomaru that Miroku would need to remove his barrier, but the youkai stepped right through it, ignoring the crackling of spiritual energy. He lifted Tenseiga and swiped it through his retainers. A moment later, both stirred and jumped to their feet.

"I- what- where did those wretched humans go?" Jaken demanded shrilly, looking around.

"Jaken," Sesshomaru said in his usual emotionless voice.

"Stay beneath Ah Un, milord, we won't let those humans take you," Jaken ordered as he lifted his staff.

"Jaken," Sesshomaru repeated. Inuyasha smirked.

"Not now, you silly pup, don't you see we're trying to keep you alive!" Jaken shouted and turned to look at where he thought Ah Un stood over his master. Instead he encountered the white hakama and traveled up to the cold, golden eyes of his master.

"Bwaa!!! M-m-milord!" Jaken exclaimed and threw himself at Sesshomaru's feet. "You've grown, I mean, that is you're not a pup, I mean you are back to normal, milord."

Sesshomaru didn't react at all. "Jaken, you will take Ah Un to the village near Inuyasha's forest and meet me there."

"Milord?" Jaken repeated fearfully, but Sesshomaru dropped his armor on top of the toad and walked away. Inuyasha followed only to have his brother transform and toss him onto his back again.

"Oie, I have legs, you know," Inuyasha grumbled.

"But I have more," Sesshomaru pointed out, and took off at a sprint.

Inuyasha burrowed down into his brother's fur and yawned again. It was only late afternoon, and he wasn't sure why he was so tired. But he had never been so comfortable in all his life. No wonder Sesshomaru had wanted to ride on his back all the time, if this was how he had traveled with their father.

A short while later, Sesshomaru realized Inuyasha had indeed fallen asleep. It surprised him that the hanyou would trust him so easily even considering all they had gone through, but he slowed his pace to keep his brother from tumbling off due to his lax grip. Unlike a full youkai pup, Inuyasha didn't have the instincts to hang on tightly even while unconscious.

Due to this, they returned much later than Sesshomaru had anticipated. His brother's human companions met him with rather upset and suspicious looks on their faces. Unable to speak with them as he had with his brother in this form, Sesshomaru turned and nudged Inuyasha gently with his nose. The hanyou muttered softly and swiped at his nose without waking.

The slayer was reaching for her hiraikotsu now, and the miko was asking him what he had done with Inuyasha. Tiring of this already, Sesshomaru just lowered himself to the ground and showed them his back.

"I think he's saying to look on his back," the monk said, and Sesshomaru resisted the urge to snap him up in one bite. Stupid mortals.

The youkai stood again and returned to his humanoid form, careful to shift Inuyasha into his arms as he transformed.

"Oh," Kagome said, covering her mouth with her hand. "He's asleep. I'm sorry, Sesshomaru, when you disappeared we thought that maybe you…"

Sesshomaru said nothing, but turned and carried Inuyasha inside the hut where they stayed while in this village. Rin ran up to him excitedly as he entered.

"I knew my lord would be back soon."

He put a hand on her head. "You fared well today?"

She nodded. Then she pulled a colorful sheet of paper from behind her back and Sesshomaru realized that was why he had smelled ink upon arriving.

"I colored this for you. Kagome brought me…" Rin hesitated and glanced at the colorful sticks like the ones the miko's mother had let them use. He nodded once to let her know she could keep the gift and that she had no need to fear that he would take them this time. By whatever uncanny ability she possessed, Rin understood this all and smiled at him.

"We will leave in the morning when Jaken and Ah Un arrive," he told her, then in a swirl of white returned outdoors.

Inuyasha's companions addressed him kindly and apologized for their greeting as they passed him on their way inside for the night, but he did not reply. They had seen him at his worst, so it was best not to let them think he had softened in the slightest because of it. Kagome put a hand on his arm, though, and he halted.

"Lord Sesshomaru, thank you for reviving Inuyasha," she told him, "and for whatever you two did today. He really does care for you, and I know deep down you care for him, too. Even if you can't show it on the outside. Night."

He stared after the odd woman. At least now he knew where she got her kindness, from her mother. The oddness must have come from her strange and wonderful world beyond the well. His memories were probably skewed due to his age, but he had never encountered any place so fantastical.

Still thinking on his experiences, Sesshomaru reclined beneath a tree and fell asleep. Sometime just before morning, he felt a tug on his fur and a light weight on his leg. Used to Rin occasionally seeking warmth from him when Jaken was either sleeping or away, he habitually wrapped the fur around her and drew her close to his side. His fingers found her soft hair and stroked it idly as he drifted back into a deeper sleep.

Rin didn't want to lie down, however. Almost as soon as he'd gotten fully asleep, she crawled out of his fur and into his lap, managing to put a heel firmly into his groin. Biting back a snarl, he wrapped his arm around her to discourage any further movement and whispered, "Sleep," before taking his own advice.

But a tiny set of hands refused to let him. Small fingers gripped his ear tightly for balance while the other hand traced the markings on his face. Sesshomaru took a deep breath to calm himself and realized suddenly that he did not smell Rin at all. About that time a pair of rather sharp fangs nipped his chin and a somewhat familiar voice said, "Father! Father! I find you. Now Mama not cry."

Sesshomaru's eyes shot open only to find himself staring into another pair of golden eyes framed with white hair and twitching puppy ears.

"Inuyasha?" he asked, thinking this had to be some sort of odd dream, likely caused by the trauma he'd been through recently. There was no way Inuyasha could really be this tiny pup tiptoeing on his lap just to look him in the eyes.

The pup grinned madly and put both his little hands on Sesshomaru's cheeks. "You look like my dream."

In utter shock, Sesshomaru plucked the little hanyou pup from him and held him by the scruff of the neck. Inuyasha smiled broadly at him and grabbed the arm that held him.

"Come, Father, come so Mama stop cry."

Sesshomaru opened and closed his mouth, completely unable to speak. When he wished he could do for Inuyasha as the hanyou had done for him, he hadn't meant it literally. And worse, Inuyasha thought he wasn't just family, but his father.

"Inuya… sha… where'd you…?" he heard the miko call suddenly from the direction of the hut, then trail from a whisper to silence.

He met the girl's disbelieving gaze with one of his own, and before he could stop himself, blurted out, "I did not do this."

To be continued…

A/N: Okay, I hope the ending works for you all. The bit of a cliffy was a scheme between Winterzforgotten and I to have fun with a chibi Inuyasha next, so the sequel will be co-authored between us. No promises on when, though. We're both very busy girls ;-).