Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended as I'm only borrowing the characters in order to amuse myself. So, in simple terms, Rumiko Takahashi owns the characters and I make no money off this.

Warning: Incest, swearing, violence, mpreg, angst, character death, yaoi, AU and OCs. All spelling/grammatical errors are my own. If you spot some mention them and I will fix them.


Dubious Relations

Chapter 19

The ground was firm beneath her feet, decked in healthy green grass and scattered with large, overwhelming trees. They reached to the sky as though hoping to be saved from the imperfect world they lived in, their leaf covered hands grasping at the brilliant blue above them. The undergrowth was alive with chatter as the few animals she saw scampered away to alert its family and friends of a stranger entering Bokuseno's forest for the first time in years.

Chiyo's gaze drifted around her as she wallowed in the pleasant sereneness that surrounded her. Life at the castle had been more than hectic for the past ten weeks with Sesshomaru's fluctuating health. And Satori's surprising arrival hadn't made the place any calmer.

Her late mistress had made it a habit to practically glue herself to Sesshomaru whenever he was awake. Chiyo was convinced the woman was up to no good (the child had told her they'd pay for her death, afterall), however, with this startling development and how polite Satori was being about it all, the elderly demoness couldn't fathom what she was planning. Unluckily, Inuyasha hadn't really noticed, with how much time he was spending with the mortal girl, Kagome (which wasn't acceptable. Sesshomaru was the one in need of his company, not the human!). His ignorance made keeping an eye on Satori far more difficult.

It was after much praying that the elderly demoness had started thinking about seeking the tree she was. However, she was sure Kazuo could mind their Lord for a few days, just until she found the answers she needed, especially with the emphasis she'd put on Satori's 'sore feelings'.

So there she was, searching for a tree with a thick trunk, with the circumference larger than if her, Rin, Kagome, Inuyasha and Sesshomaru were to stand in a circle and join hands. He also possessed overflowing, tangled roots and a large, bulbous 'nose' upon the only flat surface on him. He was also the proud owner of bushy green eyebrows (that she'd always enjoyed poking fun at, though she'd attempt to be nice this time).

Chiyo was sure she should be stumbling over him soon; Bokuseno couldn't move around and had inhabited this forest for over a thousand years (or so he said; she was sure the tale was more than a bit exaggerated. She wouldn't have been surprised if he'd added a hundred or so years to his life) and if her slowly moulding memory was right he should be…

"Chiyo!" A booming voice coughed at her, causing the elderly demon to perform a small hop-skip before pivoting to glare at the gigantic tree demon staring down at her (it seemed she'd been concentrating on her thoughts so hard, that she'd walked past him).

His face crackled and cracked as his grin broadened, "My, my, my," he practically cooed, "I haven't seen you in months. "

Bokuseno's old, carved eyes were pools of leaking, yellow-green sap, as though he was very near to bawling.

"Did I wake you?" Chiyo asked politely as she smoothed her kimono and picked at her silvery hair.

"Yes," The rasped, his roots whining and snapping at him as he rearranged them for her to sit on, "But don't worry too much, Chiyo, I don't mind being awoken by one as beautiful as you."

"Bokuseno, I'm here on official business." She called to him stiffly, as she arranged herself on his roots and stubbornly ignored his jabs, "I wish to know if your children have heard of any suspicious plots involving Sesshomaru, as of late."

The old tree hummed, causing the ground to rumble beneath her tush. Chiyo's right, silvery eyebrow twitched as a seemingly stray root rubbed itself carefully against her bottom, almost like a kitten being cute.

"There have been a few secrets being passed around," The tree answered, "I heard our Lord was pregnant and that he is unwillingly mated to Inuyasha, his half-brother. I have heard that Satori, the Lady of the West has seemingly come back to life. Hmm..."

Chiyo could hear the massive volumes in his trunk shaped head being turned and flipped through madly, as he searched for newer plots against Sesshomaru. She idly wondered how his mind could stand it at the age he was; her childhood memories were mere blurs to her now.

The demoness clasped her wrinkled hands together and placed them in her lap as she willed her aggravation to that stupid root away (because she really did need Bokuseno's information, so arguing over his ages old crush on her and his roots' actions would not be in her best interests). Her self control was finely tuned after centuries of annoying patients (with Sesshomaru being her most difficult), Chiyo was sure she could use it for this as well.

Bokuseno thought for a long time, as she sat and watched him. Every so often, he'd mutter or grumble something, sometimes huff or even chuckle, as though he were recalling a joke he'd been told whilst he was a mere sapling.

The sun had moved from hitting her hunched back, to glaring into her emerald eyes, by the time Bokuseno next addressed her, just in time to halt Chiyo's 'I'm needed elsewhere, so if you wouldn't mind could you please hurry up' speech.

"Aaah," the tree demon sighed.

Her attention was focussed on him, her bright green gaze narrowed.

He continued idly, as though talking to himself, "Yes, yes, I see, I see. Our Lord could be in great danger. This could be very bad…

"Chiyo," Emerald green hit him square in the eyes, "It seems Satori is in cahoots with a half demon by the name of Naratsu or something of the like. The entire tale is choppy at best. But it seems Naratsu had cohorts placed sacred jewels inside her, in order to resurrect her."

The demoness nodded, "It's Naraku, and I have heard of these shards. A group that has been searching for them is currently staying at the castle."

"Hn. Be cautious. I've heard many a tale about this Naraku and his doings. He appears to be extremely devious. According to a very annoyed pine, Lady Satori promised to kill Inuyasha and allow him to take Sesshomaru as a mate in return for his actions."

The elderly demoness frowned.

"I cannot see Satori giving Sesshomaru to Naraku. She is very bitter about her own death. She has very much told me that she will be extracting revenge on the boy," Chiyo muttered idly as her eyes slipped down Bokuseno's thick trunk.

Her eyes flung themselves back to his face after a moment, "Do you or any of your children know of any physical evidence I can show our Lord? Satori's done a right old job filling the child's head with lies. I'm afraid my decision to keep his mother's fate from him, has worked against us."

"As I told you it would," Bokuseno admonished.

Chiyo replied with mumbled, almost pouty words, "There's no need to rub it in."

Bokuseno ignored her, "It would have been hard on the boy, but the truth would have prepared him for this. Perhaps it would have weened him off the idea of him having the an extremely weak, but otherwise perfect mother. Despite his age, Sesshomaru could have been bitter about his lack of one. He could have been blaming himself for her death, or may hate have hated her for being so weak and leaving him alone."

The tree demon hummed, "His need to be powerful could have stemmed from the belief that his mother was weak. Thus, whilst he grew, he aimed to be as powerful as he could be, so he wouldn't leave those he pretends to not care about die. That also could have been strengthened by his father's locking Ryuu-"

Chiyo nodded and interrupted, "Perhaps not so bitter, as to angry. His relatives were never very pleasant." Chiyo's emerald gaze narrowed, "However, we're going off on a tangent, Bokuseno. Physical evidence?"

"I believe finding a jewel shard on her person would be sufficient evidence. He seems to loathe those that seek to better themselves with the aid of outside help. Also, if the Sakura tree outside Sesshomaru's window is correct, she seems to be keen to get her hands on him. Search Satori's room, she could have a poison that soaks through the skin; he isn't as immune to poisons as she is."

Chiyo nodded, "It will be done."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

She cupped her cramping hands and blew into them, before she began rubbing them together, as though she were one of those evil villains she used to hiss at as a child. She stared out of one of the windows decorating Sesshomaru's castle, with big, dark eyes and admired the clear ocean above them all.

Autumn had crept upon them over the past two weeks, having gone unnoticed until the breeze started carrying a frigid bite that made them all rug up and seek warmer conditions. It was the reason why she'd offered to mind Etsu that day, and take her to visit Shippo at the castle.

The trees surrounding the huge building were beginning to rid themselves of their modesty, the leaves having fallen to create thick blankets only to begin their wait for a time when they were needed to keep the ground warm. The garden was looking more and more ghostly with each passing day, that – had it not been highlighted by gold and bronze leaves – Kagome would have guessed it were one of the settings for a horror film.

She really ought to go down and tell Shippo to stop rolling in the leaves... And Etsu too, now that she thought about it. If anything, the little demoness ought to care about looking tidy for her lessons; Chiyo could be downright frightening when she was unimpressed and Kagome wasn't going to risk being stared at with emerald eyes that were injected with disappointment (she reminded her of her the science teacher she'd had last year).

Kagome smiled sadly as her mind wandered drunkenly through the memories of her early school years. She'd been a good student then – with awards under her belt for the student having missed the least amount of school for the year, three years in a row – and though mathematics had always been the subject to haunt her, she remembered being able to do it quite well when she was ten.

She sighed to herself, as she pulled the pretty yellow kimono sleeves up and leant down so she could rest her right elbow on the window's sill.

Well… All that was history now. Kagome was near definitely sure she was going to have to repeat the year. As thrilling as that sounded…

"Oi! Kagome!"

Her head snapped up. She watched Inuyasha stalk towards her with his eyebrows knotted in the centre of his forehead, his arms crossed moodily across his chest and his ears perked.

He eyed her warily, trying to look annoyed or angry or – just not worried, "What are you doing?"

She smiled brightly, "Nothing much! I'm watching Etsu for Kazuo; she has an hour or two before her lessons start. Kazuo would have been with her but I think he said something about talking with Sesshomaru."

"Are you sure?" Inuyasha muttered, "I just left the bastard. I didn't see him at all."

The mortal girl sighed (couldn't Inuyasha simply act civilly towards Sesshomaru? Especially with their past – erm - relations).

"Perhaps he got sidetracked?" She suggested, with a slight wave of her hand, as she motioned down the hallway.

They began the small trek through the large castle's beautifully made and decorated halls, heading pig-headedly towards the garden outside the windows they were passing.

"Perhaps he lied so he could spend some more quality time with that mate of his." Inuyasha retorted grumpily, after a moment of staring at everything but her.

Kagome glowed brilliantly, so much so she was sure Shippo would be able to use her as a night light, "Inuyasha! It may be true that Izanami is rather randybecause of her being pregnant, butKazuo usually tells me if he's planning anything like that! He doesn't want me to bring Etsu back while they're in the middle of it!"

"The bastard tells you when he's going to fuck his wife?" Inuyasha asked pointedly, with green and red tinges to his tone. He had one eyebrow raised, whilst his mouth twisted into a sneer.

Her face grew hotter, "Not so pointedly. He usually just hints at it and tells me to be back for dinner at sundown."

They burst into the sunlight a moment later, the wooden roof above their heads giving way to a barely cloudy sky. Kagome shuffled along, her long, pretty pink kimono shining strikingly as she took long detours around the shade of the near skeletal trees around them.

She could hear Inuyasha plodding along after her, huffing over her 'stupidity'. She almost smiled at the mild insult; she'd missed arguing – doing anything with him so comfortably.

Kagome stopped abruptly as she was greeted with a giggle and shout by Rin. Kagome waved back, the smile on her face melting into a frown once the little girl had turned away.

"Inuyasha," She said, as she carefully sat down, mindful of the expensive clothes adorning her slender figure, "Have you noticed that Rin doesn't seem to be around as often as you'd expect? I mean… She is special to Sesshomaru, in some way."

The half demon dropped himself down beside her, crossing his legs as he grasped the Tessaiga in his left hand. His golden eyes narrowed.

"How am I supposed to know? It's you who looks after the kids the most, aside from the old lady. I'm with Sesshomaru for most of the day, you know, because of the pup and all."

Kagome nodded, a small pang of sadness battering her heart as she continued to watch the three little figures now playing a rather unreasonable game of hide and go seek (she couldn't see how it was fair for Shippo and Etsu to use their heightened, demonic senses in order to find their adversaries, whilst poor Rin, who'd now been stumbling around with her eyes closed for a minute or so, had to find them with just her ears and luck).

Inuyasha and Kagome had definitely talked that afternoon she'd approached Sesshomaru. It was awkward, painful, somewhat horrifying and took a while, but they'd both managed to come to an understanding.

Kagome knew of the circumstances for the two dog demons' coupling, now knew that Inuyasha's lack of knowledge had caused this long series of unfortunate (or perhaps fortunate; Kagome didn't like to think about what could have happened to the pup should Inuyasha not have accidentally bitten Sesshomaru) and were now, sort of on the same page with their feelings.

The girl's emotions were like a cauldron: not just filled with the nice, normal ingredients, but with the icky, disgusting ones as well. It was hard to tell if she wanted to sit Inuyasha or if she really wanted to comfort him and hold him and do something normal couples do together when one of them was upset or stressed (though she knew without a doubt that the normal rules hardly ever applied to Inuyasha).

Kagome wasn't angry with Inuyasha about the act itself anymore. She understood that Inuyasha had thought he'd get some semblance of a bodyguard should everything had gone to – what Inuyasha thought was – Sesshomaru's plan. After all, Sesshomaru could have been mated to some other nastier demon with no soul or heart, that would have abused his power over Sesshomaru and caused his rule to fail. But she did feel mournful about Inuyasha's doing it with someone that wasn't her, when he had feelings for her (which he did kind of, sort of, not all too politely or sharply admit to having).

She was also keyed into Inuyasha's plans now. Even though the thought of her and Inuyasha raising a child – like a family, as though they were married – always caused her stomach to flutter and her face to redden and her brain to fry with all the information kicking her in the gut.

She was only sixteen! Too young to have a child, but she couldn't let Inuyasha take care of it alone; the stress on him would be too much and she definitely wasn't going to count on Sesshomaru looking after it until she finished school and whatnot… And she didn't even know if her grandfather and mother looking after it was an option at all (especially if they knew of the circumstances)!

But she had chosen to stand by Inuyasha. He seemed to want to take care of his child, he seemed to want to let the kid have its own family, one that actually cared. It was inspiring and cute and awesome because she hadn't seen such conviction in Inuyasha outside of wanting to protect his friends. She hoped everything would go as easily as Inuyasha seemed to think it would.

"Kagome?"

Inuyasha's rash voice knocked her from her thoughts, as she twirled around to face him, her dark hair flailing out around her, "Yes?"

"Did I tell you the reason why Sesshomaru's shrunk? The old hag finally explained it to Sesshomaru when he and that bitch of a mother of his cornered her this morning."

Kagome's dark brows rose as a look of bafflement sketched itself over her face, "No. Why is it? It's so weird looking at the two of you like that. Sesshomaru barely reaches your nose!"

He snorted (most likely angry with her comment; it seemed he really did relish being taller than Sesshomaru), "With how 'advanced' your time is and all, I'm sure you'll understand why a women's hips are wider than a man's."

She nodded as she continued to eye him curiously and intently. A woman's hips were wider than a man's because they gave birth; a baby's head needed to be able to squeeze between the two sides of the pelvic bone and the body too...

Kagome binked, "Wait," She shifted onto her knees and peered down at Inuyasha, her hands poised on her silk clad knees, "You mean to tell me Sesshomaru's shorter because of his hips widening?"

Inuyasha smirked, a look that made Kagome smile happily (because he looked like any other cute boy her age when he was acting smug), "According to the hag, the amount he's shrunk is the amount his hips have widened! The bastard's got womanly hips now!"

Kagome watched as Inuyasha seemed to replay the meeting in his head. He looked gleeful and amused and – she sighed sadly.

It was too bad he only ever really got into this mood when someone was struck with the hammer of misfortune. His expression told of how much he wanted to laugh, chortle and titter over his brother's predicament. And despite feeling a little guilty for thinking it, Kagome also couldn't stop the amused smile that worked its way onto her face as well.

After all, Sesshomaru was the Lord of the Western Plains, the demon who could skin anyone alive under normal circumstances by simply flicking his wrist, the demon who'd threatened to kill Inuyasha too many times to count, a man who was proud, vain and deadly, but did everything with such elegance one couldn't help but admire him for it… It was extremely ironic (like, if a fire station caught fire, or a police station was robbed, or…) that Sesshomaru of all people was now a shorter, wide-hipped, large bellied, feminine Ninsoku.

Now if only she'd stop soft giggling enough to rebuke Inuyasha for being so mean…

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The scent of green tea surrounded them, the room having been closed up from the blinding, midday sun. The ochre shogi tinted the room and its inhabitants a warm brown, making both demons appear as though they'd sat too long in the sun. It was cool outside, warmer in the room, but Sesshomaru found himself decked in a blanket regardless. He and Satori were kneeling on golden brown mats by the small table they'd used in every other one of their talks.

He wasn't at all pleased, his eyebrows knotted in the centre of his forehead and his lips tugged down into a perpetual frown. After all, what man of his social standing, of his pure upbringing and character could manage another blow to his pride and vanity; it was as though the gods were toying with him, teasing him, punishing him for his actions.

He had nothing left. He had nothing physically left to belittle Inuyasha (and his words were starting to have little effect without his physical attributes to highlight, underline and bold them).

The damned half-breed had dared to laugh at him because of his predicament. He'd dared to tease and pick at him right after Chiyo had announced (with a flick of the measuring string she'd been sporting) what his predicament was. Sesshomaru's resulting glare and straightening hadn't worked at all; they'd made Inuyasha chortle more.

Sesshomaru glared at the floor, as though attempting to burrow his way through the thick floor boards.

"At least you know you'll be able to return to your normal height, Sesshomaru. It isn't as though all these changes will remain with you forever." His mother chided, with a hint of amusement in her voice.

Sesshomaru didn't respond, but took another sip of his drink, before he placed it down on the small table in front of them with barely a tap. She could laugh all she wanted; if Jaken ever managed to find a way to unmate him from Inuaysha, both him and the pup were to be slaughtered, Inuyasha was to be brought back to life and torn to shreds again.

With his efforts to ignore her, the woman across from him huffed into her cup. Sesshomaru shared a small, unappreciative glance with her.

He had taken to attempting to get to know his mother ever since the afternoon, two weeks ago, when he'd left Inuyasha to talk with that annoying priestess. He'd prodded and pried – despite his dislike for it, he was an aristocrat and thus a gossipmonger – until she'd shared the tale of her banishment.

According to her, Lady Satori had been a woman forced into mating her father as her clan was dying out and her father wanted her act as a bridge between the western and eastern dog demon clans, and thus join them as one. Obviously, it had been done and she'd soon become pregnant with him.

However, her exile was placed upon her when she was caught bearing a deadly root in her kimono as she entered her and his father's bedroom. It had been thought that she had been attempting to poison the reigning demon Lord.

"I was young, not much older than you, Sesshomaru," She'd said, her eyes on the blanket draped over Sesshomaru's legs (he hadn't been allowed out of bed until Inuyasha was once again by his side, like a faithful, growling, grumpy puppy), "I thought I could get away with poisoning myself. But your father, the fool, wouldn't believe me when I told him I'd reconsidered and couldn't throw the valuable herb away. I had you to think about after all."

He'd felt odd when she said that. Warm, almost. It was unfamiliar and reminded Sesshomaru of a few times around a campfire when his father had voiced how proud of him he was, and of the times when Rin would look up at him as though he were a god whenever he did something small and insignificant in his own exotically coloured eyes.

Lady Satori had displayed an ability to use her own poison whip with as much accuracy as he used his own, when Inuyasha had decided to gripe and moan about how there wasn't a single worthy opponent for a few simple training exercises. Sesshomaru took another sip of his tea; Inuyasha had definitely had a worthy opponent then. Unfortunately, their spar hadn't had the chance to earn a winner; Chiyo had forbidden it once Inuyasha had whipped out the Tessaiga.

Sesshomaru's eyes moved to the large window to their right, watching as the trees' shadows waved at the two demons through the golden brown shogi.

Chiyo had been somewhat right; Lady Satori – his mother – was a lot like his him. True, she seemed slightly more emotional (though Sesshomaru had the inkling that all females were emotional wrecks waiting to happen), however, they were definitely related.

Oddly enough, his current circumstances were a lot like her own had been, as well…

"Have you thought of names yet?"

Sesshomaru's eyes snapped up to his mother's equally gold gems. There was a brief moment of wonder, as they both stared at each other, Sesshomaru gouging whether or not the demoness was attempting to be humorous, and her obviously waiting for an answer. He looked away as he shifted around in the hopes of finding some relief for his aching knees.

"No. It's too soon," He said in a monotone as he met her gaze again, "There are a few more weeks before the child is born."

"You haven't considered the possibility that it might be premature?"

The demon Lord's voice was as sharp as a dagger as he spoke, "That isn't possible."

Sesshomaru was too healthy, too strong, too stubborn and he would be damned before he believed that something born from him (no matter how unwilling a participate he was in the act) would be born too early or in a state that was in anyway short of perfect (unless Inuyasha had damned the unfortunate creature).

Also, it was Inuyasha that wanted to keep it. The mongrel could name it; Sesshomaru didn't want anything to do with the forsaken thing once it was outside of him.

The demoness clucked, shaking her head as though he were a young pup about to do something very stupid. Her brilliant white hair cascaded over her shoulders with her movements, a continuous flow of pure water running from her head.

"You were born premature."

Sesshomaru's gaze froze, his golden eyes holding the frigidity of a thousand blizzards as their eyes locked and melded together – there was a snow storm raging between them, Sesshomaru could feel its biting chill.

"Chiyo told me nothing of this." He intoned.

"No," The demoness said idly as she inhaled the bitter aroma of her tea, claws tinkling against the white ceramics, "I suppose she wouldn't have. She doesn't seem to like telling us the truth, does she?"

No, Sesshomaru realised, she didn't seem to.

He'd need to speak to her in length without company. The elderly demoness had the habit of clamming up whenever surrounded by an audience that wasn't directly related to a matter. It was one thing Sesshomaru was appreciative of for the most part. However, all these details – his mother being alive, mates being unable to hurt one another physically and now his being born premature – were all incredibly important pieces of information. She was a friend to him. He didn't want to discipline the elderly demoness because she was suspected of withholding crucial facts that could be taken as a plan to destroy him.

Lady Satori continued as she pulled a long platinum white strand of hair behind one of her pointed ears, her tone was conversationally cool, "We'd expected you during the harvesting season, however you decided you wanted out during the winter.

"The pain was horrific. Nothing like I had expected… You'll be surprised by it too, when you give birth, Sesshomaru."

Sesshomaru didn't reply or move, but he doubted it. How dissimilar could child birth be to receiving a horrific wound? His stomach had been torn open once when he was younger and had accompanied his father on a campaign; surely it would be no different to that.

"You were so tiny, far too small for any healthy baby - too red, too quiet. Your father's blood saved you though. You grew to be strong, just like any son of the Lady of the Eastern Dog Demon tribe and the Lord of the West's would be expected to be."

She paused, as though letting her words sink into him.

"You shouldn't let the half breed name it. Can you imagine the names he could come up with? Human names. Even if it is to live amongst humans, you should mark it as your own, hold ownership over something stronger and more impressive than that priestess could ever wish to give the scum."

"That priestess is of no concern of mine."

His mother huffed, "Sesshomaru, you've been moping ever since that mate of yours started paying more attention to the human."

Sesshomaru's eyes emptied, his face falling into a countenance that held no emotion, "Inuyasha is nothing more than a nuisance to me. He is here only because he will not allow his pup to die." Sesshomaru resisted the urge to cup his bloated belly as the pup kicked, as though arguing his point, "It is his fault father is dead. It is him that possesses father's most prized possession. He is the shame that drags our family's reputation through the mud."

Satori's stare was cool and level. She regarded him silently for a moment, in which caused Sesshomaru to sit straighter and dare her to challenge his word.

She scowled. Satori dared, "And yet, despite all this, you are still mourning the loss of his company?"

He remained silent, having deigned the comment unworthy of a response; Sesshomaru wasn't mourning Inuyasha's all day outings with the human woman. His mother made it sound like he was jealous which was as far as the truth as the chances of Jaken suddenly leaving his service of his own choosing was.

"You seem quite accepting to Inuyasha being my mate." Sesshomaru said curtly.

Satori stared into her cup with an all knowing smile, "I may not be a fan of humans or half-breeds. However, I can accept that you will cut off all links to the disgrace should you be able to. Other than that," She elegantly downed the last of her tea, "It is awfully fun teasing you."

The room remained silent for a while after that as Sesshomaru wondered if he was supposed to state that her accusation were false and disrespectful. He watched as she delicately sipped at the herbal remedy in her cup. He then left his mother to whatever fantasies she'd concocted, willing her to believe what she wanted, so long as she didn't bother him with them as he thought over his own problems.

One such problem was that there was a meeting between the four Lords of Japan in two moons time (around the time in which the pup should be born, if Chiyo's calculations were correct). Should he still be pregnant at the time of the meeting, trouble was bound to collapse on top of them.

The meeting of the demon Lord's of Japan was an important, strictly followed tradition. Every year they would merge for three days and evaluate the health of their land. They would discuss if there was a greater need for farmers, whether it was essential for them to create new trade routes and simply make their profits larger and the villages their humans were living in habitable.

If a Lord was to not attend, the others requested that was to be a piece of physical evidence that would be shown to them (usually via a strip of well kept flesh). This ruling was centuries old, set up so that it would be exceptionally hard for the Lords to skip it; the skin never lied.

Which was why Sesshomaru had to concoct another plan of action; If he did end up sending a part of himself, Sesshomaru's pregnancy would be known to them all and his position as Lord of the Western Plains challenged. Once again, Sesshomaru mentally cursed Inuyasha's pig headedness and his inability to do things right.

Sesshomaru dismissed Satori; He'd need to discuss things with Kazuo and Chiyo.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The palace gardens were a peaceful place. Simple and elegant, with an air of expensive taste; the gardens wore the exotic plants like jewellery. There were rock beds and several small, speckled orange koi filled ponds, there were intricately designed bird houses and a well kept dirt road to walk on.

The woman smirked at the scenery, her violet gaze sparkling with impressed mirth; Sesshomaru (or whoever designed this place) had splendid taste.

She had to acknowledge the caretakers – two little hare demons that tended to nibble on some of the less toxic leaves they cut or pulled from the vegetation under their care - it was well looked after, the lower bushes having looked freshly clipped no matter when it was she'd walk through them (and she had done so quite a bit over the past few days).

Her large, displeased eyes moved to the small budding plant in her upturned palms as an unattractive frown found its place on her plain face. She blew her deep brown bangs away from her eyes, keen to get this over and done with.

She quickly picked a spot underneath the shadow of a huge, thick based tree, somewhere out of the way, though noticeable (if only because of the mighty dog demon statue that stood in front of it). She was careful not to drop the bloom she was carrying. She continued to scowl at it as she balanced it in one hand, the other acting like a spade as she began to spoon the dirt from the ground.

The flower would be a deep purple, like a darkened, fresh bruise staining a princess' perfect cheek, once it was in full bloom. While the stem was tinged indigo. It smelt irritating, not sweet, nor was it at all calming; the smell caused the woman to feel nauseated (though that could have simply been because she had been charged with the duty of infecting Sesshomaru's pretty gardens with its filth).

The dirt shifted like wet sand beneath her fingers, staining them a dull grey. She stopped once she was a hand length deep.

The woman eyed the plant. It wouldn't be hard to simply destroy the plant. She'd save Sesshomaru and he would owe her... A flick of her wrist and a razor sharp burst of wind would be all it would take...

She gingerly placed the flower in its new bed, gently patting the soil around it until she was sure it wouldn't move. She stood with her back as straight as an arrow's length. Her violet eyes were cold and detached, as she realised Sesshomaru couldn't help her in his current state.

The woman turned from the plant, before she called out for the young demon boy she was supposed to be searching for.


Woffy: It's Dubious Relations' first birthday yesterday/today/tomorrow (the 2nd of April)! My baby's growing up! Squee!

As a result, I was wondering: how do you want this fic to end? What did/do you expect to happen? Have I done something that has completely killed off your expectations (good or bad) for this fic (such as a happy ending XD)? With that said, your answers won't affect the outcome of this fic; I've already planned it and it's not changing (much).

Anyway… Nothing action-y happened this chapter (though it is important!), but we're moving into the climax of the story. Things should really start to boil either next chapter or the one after it.

Anyway… Thank you to Sanguinary Tears, CrayonTyrant, midnightsweet, midnightwhispers, empath89 and LittleButterfly for the lovely reviews. I appreciate them!

Review, please!

EDIT - 19.08.08: I rewrote this chapter. Hopefully it's more believable now. Thank you to m who's very honest review made me extremely stubborn about redoing it. Usually when I don't like a chapter, I think about redoing it, but procrastinate and then don't. But look! It's redone! It's your fault. :D