Disclaimer: The only claim I have on these characters was made in the Live Journal community 30Shards, whose story prompts serve as a basis for this tale. In point of fact, the inu-brothers belong to Rumiko Takahashi.

Dedication: For Racing Stripes—my co-conspirator and confidante. I'm glad you've got my back.

Date: 05.12.07

Brothers-in-Arms by Ginger Bits
Chapter 1: Advice

"So, basically, you're saying that life's not fair."

"That is not what I said," retorted the taiyoukai after a lengthy pause.

A creaking chuckle shook through the limbs of the ancient magnolia. "I have a gift for summation," Bokuseno assured his truculent visitor. "How long have you been putting this little visit off, Sesshomaru?"

The silver-haired inuyoukai gazed off into the forest, refusing to meet the tree youkai's eyes. "Eighty years."

"Aha, and how many allies remain—those you can trust implicitly?" persisted Bokuseno.

"There is no one," Sesshomaru stated flatly.

"I see," the wise, old tree drawled thoughtfully. "Were you hoping matters would just resolve themselves?" The taiyoukai's countenance soured at the mild reprimand in his advisor's tone. "You may be your father's son, Sesshomaru, but even he had the sense to keep a few allies around. You cannot hope to stand alone against the clans at court if they've set themselves against you."

"I am aware of that, Bokuseno. Do not waste my time telling me what I already know," growled the Western Lord.

"Have you considered your brother?"

"What would…" Sesshomaru choked on his words as he caught Bokuseno's meaning. "No. Absolutely not."

"It would improve your odds drastically if you were to ally yourself to him."

"That worthless half-breed?"

"You fought by his side against Naraku, did you not?"

"That was no alliance," snapped Sesshomaru. "Our purposes just happened to coincide."

Bokuseno offered a non-committal hum before speaking again. "I am given to understand that he resembles your late father. Golden eyes and silver hair leave no doubts as to his true lineage?"

"It is so," sniffed the taiyoukai.

"Does he not possess your father's fang—Tessaiga?"

"You know it to be true," snarled Sesshomaru angrily.

"Yes, yes," murmured the tree youkai soothingly. "In the eyes of the court, your brother would be a formidable ally. The two sons of Inu no Taisho united. Few would dare to challenge your inheritance with both of Inu no Taisho's fangs standing as testimony to your claim."

"He is a hanyou," the full youkai bit out.

"I don't see that making a difference at this point," Bokuseno stated firmly. "He is your brother. He should be a part of your pack—by rights your beta. Don't let your prejudice blind you to the obvious. You realize he is the closest thing you have to an heir?"

"Never," spat the taiyoukai. "He is not fit to rule."

"That so?" returned the magnolia challengingly.

"He is unruly and uncouth, crude and churlish," Sesshomaru enumerated crisply.

"Is that all?"

"By no means—he is completely undisciplined and utterly ignorant of his heritage."

"You don't say," encouraged Bokuseno in a bemused tone.

"Foul-tempered, foul-mouthed, foul-mannered…" ranted the Western Lord in a proper fit of pique.

"I see," interjected the magnolia softly. "And who had the raising of him?"

This brought Sesshomaru up short. "What?"

"The second son of your esteemed father, your half-brother—who was entrusted with his training?" Bokuseno asked patiently.

"He ran wild, so far as I know," Sesshomaru shrugged, dismissing the matter.

The tree youkai feigned disbelief, "None of his family embarked upon his training?"

The taiyoukai snorted, "He was cast out as an abomination. What would be the point?"

"Stubborn dog! You succeeded your father as Lord of the Western Lands upon his death, did you not?"

"Yes," affirmed Sesshomaru.

"Making you ultimately responsible for all your clan," continued Bokuseno didactically.

"Of course," replied the taiyoukai impatiently.

"So the hanyou, your brother—you are his only living relative."

"What of it?" Sesshomaru asked with a warning growl.

"Who else was able to teach him?"

"No one."

"You still refuse the responsibility?"

"I do."

"Yet you blame him for his lack of upbringing?" Bokuseno chided gently.

Sesshomaru's knuckles cracked in irritation. "I will not abase myself by forming an alliance with that half-breed. I want nothing to do with him."

"He was alone," pointed out the magnolia quietly.

"I do not care."

"You could have treated him as a brother, allied yourself to him when he was in need."

The youkai's eyes narrowed, "This Sesshomaru needs no one."

"Which is why you are alone now."

"I do not care," the taiyoukai insisted, drawing himself up.

"If you are lucky, he will." Sesshomaru frowned at this switchback. "Perhaps he will not withhold what you were so unwilling to give. The very humanity you disdain in your half-brother may be what permits him to overlook the past and ally himself to you—now that you are the one in need."

"He deserved his lot in life," the taiyoukai muttered, almost petulantly.

"Perhaps you, too, will be getting what you deserve, foolish dog."

Sesshomaru ground his teeth in frustration. "I do not have to listen to this."

No," called Bokuseno after the stiff-backed Western Lord, "But you would be wise to do so. Go to your half-brother, Sesshomaru. Go to Inuyasha."

Shard 12, Advice
818 words