My expression did not change as I looked between the face of the hanyou and his hand that was reaching for me. His eyes noted the look of disdain he received and unusually for him, they dropped; casting their gaze to the ground at his feet. He sighed, a huge shuddering breath that sounded like a sob and yet no drops fell to the dust below. His human friends for once were just silent observers; even the miko that he would eventually take as his mate, had no words to say to break the tension of the group.
I watched as his arm and hand dropped slowly back to his side; rejection of his person was hardly new ground for Inuyasha, certainly not from me. I raised my eyebrow at the strange stillness that surrounded all of us, we seemed to be waiting for someone to breach the silence. I obliged:
"You were expecting something more from This Sesshoumaru, Hanyou?" I observed him as he shook his head, although he did not look up.
"Not expected...hoped for, perhaps."
"You will need to explain yourself; your enemy is dead, you have your jewel. I have told you that I shall be the one to kill you but that at the moment you are indefinately reprieved. What more could you hope from me?" Again I watched as a tortured sigh shook my brother's frame.
"Acceptance." As he spoke the word softly, he looked up into my face; his eyes shone with hopeful golden light and a myriad of emotions flashed through them. The light was soon extinguished as my own face did not change or soften towards him in any way. He glanced down at the small hand that was holding tightly to my hakama and smiled sadly at Rin, then he looked back up to me.
"Once I followed you as she does now, once it was my fist that held on so tight; you could not leave me anywhere alone. When did this acceptance of me turn to hate?"
"I did my duty and what was needed when you were a tiny child Inuyasha, it was never acceptance and you are no longer in such need." A shadow fell over his face as a whisper left his lips:
"Aren't I?" The answer surprised me, but I was not going to be drawn into discussion. Inuyasha's eyes reflected the dying sun as evening drew to a close; to my astonishment I thought I saw for a mere moment, the sheen of tears in the gold; but then I thought myself mistaken.
"I had hoped that things could change between us Sesshoumaru."
"They can change no further than they have already, Inuyasha." Once again my brother glanced at Rin.
"That child is a change for you Sesshoumaru. How can you care for her and detest me, I am your family, you are all I have."
"We cannot choose those to whom we belong by blood, I have never disguised my thoughts on this. Rin is human, true to her race." I pause to wonder why he pursues this line of conversation if it causes him pain. Though why it should, is beyond my understanding; I have never shown anything but coldness and disinterest at best, towards my brother; even when he was a tiny whelp. That it did affect him was obvious however, when he visibly winced at my reply.
"You have never 'seen' me, have you my brother. You have only ever seen the taint, the filthy halfbreed; the stain on your bloodline but never have you known 'Inuyasha' the other son of our father, brother of yourself. I love you and would have welcomed being your brother; but I do understand; I will never bother you again. Farewell." He turned and walked back to his companions while I pondered over his words.
He loved me, how ridiculous and how human. I could feel my lip curl in disgust. I certainly had never given him cause or reason for the emotion; far from it. Even when he was a small pup I had scorned and beaten him when he came into my care; fancy allowing an unwanted feeling to grow and flourish in such poor soil. The rare times I smiled at him or did not push him away could not provide many nutrients to the growth of love.
I waited without speaking any further until I knew that the strange pack had moved away and then turned my attentions to my own concerns. Rin had left my side and was sitting rather quietly on her own with her eyes focused on the vanishing sight of my brother's little group. To my surprise I could feel that she was both sad and angry; it being the first time since I knew the child, that she had felt anything other than contentment and happiness in my presence, caused me to ponder on what could have sparked her disquiet.
"Rin, you are uneasy?"
"A little bit My Lord."
"You despise humans My Lord, yet you have never sent me away."
"You are free to leave whenever you wish Rin. To stay is your own choice." I waited for her reaction to this and saw her head nod up and down in agreement. 'But that was not your implied question was it Rin?' I thought carefully as to what to say to her that would take away any feelings or misgivings she might harbour.
"I have no fondness for the human race at all Rin, however that is not your concern. Rin is just Rin to me."
"Why is Inuyasha not just Inuyasha to you My Lord? Did he have the choice to stay with you?" Her question was impertinent and I refused to answer; knowing that my silence would be punishment enough for the talkative child. Yet she answered herself without a care for my anger and I found myself admiring her bravery.
"You sent him away from you when he was little and you have done it again now. He didn't want to go My Lord, can't you call him back and stop him from crying?"
"I will not Rin, do not question my judgement when your own is suspect; he was not crying."
"He was inside." Once again her answer surprised me. Not so much as what she said, or how; but that it was in contradiction to my own statement. I ignored the girl and started to walk away. Rin obediently followed as I knew she would but she had not perked up as usual; her mind and heart still dwelling on Inuyasha. I cast my mind back to when it was he who followed me around and I remembered how much the oppression and the ignominious duty of caring for the hanyou had weighed on my mind.
I of course, made sure that everyone knew I only tolerated his presence because of such duty; required of me in memory of my father and I made sure that the pup knew that his very existence was impropitious. Although occcasionally when we were alone, I tolerated him and endeavoured to amuse him and I remembered the joy that shone from his golden eyes if I so much as bestowed a smile as opposed to a blow in his direction.
Children make so much out of so little, from such meagre fare as the facade of affection. Now I realised that those few memories had never left my foolish brother and by making more of them than he should, he had brought this heartache down on himself. I ran over his words again and wondered at his word 'farewell', it was a word of finality and dismissal, something he had no right to say to me. It would not be his decision to not see me again, I might have cause in the future to fight him and he would die at my hand eventually.
I decided to forcibly correct his error and leaving Rin in the care of Jaken, I took my leisure and walked towards my brother's encampment; there was no hurry. Keeping my approach hidden, I was astounded at how quiet they all were. I could hear the crackling of the fire clearly and I heard the softly spoken words. There was no sign of Inuyasha but the rest were there so I knew he would not be far. They were all soberly discussing our meeting earlier and I knew that had I been concerned about their censure, I would have been greatly angered by their judgements.
By now I had located the hanyou and I knew that it would be unfair to challenge him at this moment in time. In fact, I withdrew; in case he felt my presence and imagined that I had sought him out, because somehow I had changed my mind. He was weeping silently and as I had never offered him comfort before when he had shed tears, I would not do so now. In fact the sight of his sorrow angered me, how dare he hope for recognition or anything but contempt from me.
I decided to leave and confront him another day when this melancholy would have passed; but it was not to be, I have not seen him since that night. I did not know until many years later where my brother had gone, I just noticed gradually that his scent faded from the air, even as his forest diminished and villages expanded. I hunted for him on and off to fight him and hone my skills as there was never anyone who came near to me in a challenge as did Inuyasha.
Sometimes I thought I caught a glimpse of his golden eyes shining at me through the dark of the night, but my searches led nowhere. I travelled far and wide looking for the recalcitrant boy; not believing that he could have remained hidden from me for so long. I missed the fire in his brilliant eyes when we fought, they sparkled like gold with life and passion and he was the only one who could bring out the same in me.
Even when I saw Rin looking up at me trusting as always, her eyes would seem to change from brown to gold and I would imagine a small hanyou pup peeping out from my ward's face. It didn't matter how ridiculous I personally found it and how ironic it would have seemed, if anyone could have realised what I was doing; when I was hunting for my despised half sibling.
To a youkai, the passing of time is irrelevant; seasons change, come and go. My hunt never ceased for my brother and the miko, I could hear his brash voice and vulgar language often and would follow the scent only to find nothing. Like the eyes that haunted me, teasing me in the dark, the voice proved just as treacherous and elusive. Rin changed from child to woman as I wandered, sometimes remaining by choice in her suite in the Palace and one day I found myself recognising the village where the monk and exterminator had made their home. I found them by scent, I would never have recognised them by sight; they were quite withered with age.
If he were surprised to see me, the monk did not show it and offered me hospitality; ignoring the murmers of the other villagers. I was informed that most of the people here were the family of himself and his mate, children and grandchildren. I offered as an excuse for my presence, that I was touring the villages on my lands; checking the security of my tenure.
The monk had not gained in wisdom; for when I enquired casually, if he knew the whereabouts of my brother as I wished to fight him; he smiled at me and said that I would never be able to find either Inuyasha or his mate again. I nearly removed his head for such insolence but informed him that there was nowhere that I could not look, whether in these lands or on foreign soil. If anything, the annoying smile widened on the monk's face before he delivered what he must have thought a killing blow.
"You will not find them anywhere, My Lord Sesshoumaru; in this time."
"Kagome was from 500 years in our future when she arrived, the Shikon jewel inside her body. The well was a portal to her time and once you had so painfully rejected Inuyasha, he decided to make the future his home permanantly as well. Kagome's family always made him welcome and was overjoyed to have him finally stay with them."
"Impossible" was all I said to that ridiculous tale.
"It is the truth, My Lord." This from the slayer who had just joined her mate. She continued, "Kagome sealed the well on the other side once her mother died; she and Inuyasha are happy and have four 'pups'. He has been provided with a concealment charm and can go where and when he pleases; but they can no longer come to visit us and I miss them both."
"They used to come here, how come I never knew of this."
"You made yourself perfectly clear when Inuyasha hoped to be considered as part of your family Lord Sesshoumaru, you were most decisive in cutting his feet from under him and it is something for which you should never be forgiven. He feared that his pups would never be safe here so they sealed the well and he cut you from their lives. Lord Sesshoumaru, even though you had been abysmally cruel to him; Inuyasha still hoped you would come before they left, he searched the area for any sign of you. How can you not hold value for a brother? I would have given anything to have had my brother safe again.
"You have said quite enough woman. My motives are not to be questioned."
"At one time I wished only to thank you for the care you took of Kohaku, it is a debt I can never repay; but he and the girl were both strangers to you and yet you showed more compassion for them than you ever did for your own flesh and blood. You hurt him so badly and I cannot forget or forgive, when I remember the sight of his tears as he jumped through the well. You will regret your treatment of Inuyasha, My Lord; you too will soon be lonely for company, we will all soon pass away and that includes your ward."
The idea that a Taiyoukai would be lonely, let alone for human company was frankly laughable and was probably the only thing that saved my temper from killing both of the idiots. The woman was obviously becoming senile and it would not appease my honour to end her life. I decided to leave this village and search once again near the well for any sign of my brother. He had no right to forbid me access to him or his children, I was the head of the family even if I had denied him the right to be part of it.
That night I knew that the human's words were true. There was no feel anywhere of my brother or his mate; no scent remained in the air, not even in the wood of the silent and empty well. There was no trace left of a hanyou in the village itself, all the old places were gone and there were new huts and people, the elderly miko having been dead a long time.
I was wrong; there was one sign, an old scar on the old tree where my brother spent fifty years in near death sleep. I put my hand to the hole where the arrow had pierced the bark and a child of the village came and told me the legend. My brother had been gone so long from here that in the human time of things, he was fast becoming a myth.
How strange; I had often told Inuyasha how much better it would have been for me and the family line had he never existed and I had cursed the day that he had been born and yet now, when he did in effect no longer exist; I felt the lack. I turned towards the West and home once again, an uneasy feeling of loss that I could not explain even to myself had started to settle in my being. I had spent many years expecting to find Inuyasha and then to punish him for treating me with a lack of respect, by hiding himself; only to find that he had indeed, gone for good.
Do not be mistaken, I had not spent all my time looking for the hanyou; rather I had looked whilst on my usual travels across my land. I told myself that I did not miss him at all; I missed the fights alone, not the loud presence but after a while I was forced to re-evaluate. I missed coming across him regularly as I used to; I even missed the crude salutations announcing my arrival and I missed the rush of adrenelin as we rushed towards each other.
One thing led to another and purely as an intellectual excercise, I allowed myself to explore the relationship that I had now lost with Inuyasha. I had lost the bright golden eyed happy child that he had sometimes used to be, following me around the Palace. I'd lost the trust he had in me years ago when I replaced it with hatred and I remembered the sorrow and dismay that I often saw when he looked at me as we fought; hidden well behind the anger and frustration, not obvious, but there nonetheless.
Then there was one day when the kit Shippou asked for an audience with me. He had, I knew lived with the monk and the slayer for the time since Naraku. He was courting at the time, one of the kitsune of my own staff. I had no objection to this, it was not really my business; my concerns had only been that I had to be informed of the transfer of any leadership in my domain.
The kitsune informed me that both the monk and his mate were now deceased due to natural causes and that headship of the clan had passed on to the older son. He also had a personal request that should there be a vacancy on my staff, could he be considered for the task. I could grant this immediately, I had need of a new secretary whom I could trust and I knew his skills were considerable; him having liassed many times in the past between myself and my subjects.
Time went by and things started to change as they had always done, humans grew in population and there was an emptiness in my heart and soul. The words of the slayer came back to haunt me often; Rin had never left me to mate with anyone, she forego her life as a normal human to live with me always as my little Rin. I did not notice the fading of her life; it seemed to happen so quickly, when one day she could no longer find the strength to leave her chamber. She slipped away as I held her hand; a sweet smile that belied her years on her face and her expression of pure love caused me to shed tears for her death.
It seemed no time had gone by for me since I had granted her life with Tenseiga, the lifespan of humans was fleeting. Now I was alone and in the months and even years following the death of my beloved child, the hollow emptiness grew. I realised now that one of the motives I had in allowing the child to accompany me was to replace the child I had discarded; I exchanged adoring golden eyes for brown; now I had neither. Nor had I hatred or disdain for my brother anymore; that had long gone just as he had.
I could admit in the privacy of my mind that I had been an unmitigated fool in my treatment of my own kin. Unforgivable was how the slayer called it, what brother would cause his younger one such pain for absolutely no reason except a spurious belief in self pride? Well now I was left with the rags of that pride which was cold and icy instead of the love I could have had from my brother and his family causing warmth to radiate throughout the Palace.
Too late. All such genuine feelings of love for me that were not motivated by self gain, had died with Rin and Inuyasha and I could admit to myself how much I missed them both. As the seasons kept changing so did we all, work had to be done and life adapted; nothing stands still for long. The kitsune started a family and I watched as his kits grew, taking delight in one another and I envied them.
Shippou became indispensible as my empire grew and he alone knew that there was a trust and division set aside for Inuyasha. I would prove the monk wrong; I would find my brother again, I would meet him as he came through the well and it would be myself who would be the one to wipe away the tears I had caused. I would have waited 500 years for the privilege and to show him that I would like to accept him and be accepted by him. Who knows, maybe we could find love again and become real brothers.