Ch 68 So the Story Ends
Inuyasha really was a child sometimes, Sesshoumaru thought; what a worry to have, obviously he still had so much to learn about his heritage. But from the tension in the pup, he needed a truthful and not a teasing answer.
"Youki is only energy Pup; true it is youkai energy and the power we harness, but it has no personality. Our energies are compatible because of father; but none of my essence will be in your seed to come through to any pup, you and Rin hopefully will have together. Your offsring will not be mine in anyway except by blood relation, as my pups are to you; does this ease your mind Inuyasha?"
"Feh!" Inuyasha understood and pulling his sleeping mate close to his body, he also managed to curl up into his brother's body warmth and welcomed the youkai's arms around them both. He had missed this feeling dreadfully in the days that he'd not been able to relax near them all, when he'd spent his lonely nights in his own futon; now all his animosity seemed to have melted away and he wanted to feel safe and loved again, wrapped in his brother's aura. Sesshoumaru too was pleased to have him back within reach; he had actually felt fear when he thought that once again, Inuyasha despised him and might this time never be able to forgive.
One day Sesshoumaru might learn that Inuyasha had never held a grudge in his life, tending to absorb as his own fault all the crimes that were committed on him; therefore although he had been hurt and angry, he would never have completely blamed his brother. Far from it, he always forgave and loved Sesshoumaru long before the youkai acknowledged their affectionate bond. Inuyasha was amazed and truly grateful for all the help he received now and could hardly believe in the power that Sesshoumaru was lending him.
He would never abuse the trust and felt the love Sesshoumaru had for him in the actual fact of the rings; his brother's power lying dormant for now but Inuyasha could feel it and it was comforting in it's own right, connecting him and the Daiyoukai wherever he was or however far apart. Inuyasha would never cause his brother to regret giving him the ring, it was a most precious gift.
However it still took over a year for Rin to conceive; a heartbreaking year, where all felt the bitter disappointments each month when her bleeding occured. Of course as her scent did not change, Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha knew that his seed had not taken root. Until one day when Rin came into dinner, the brothers just stared at each other; Rin was pupped. Inuyasha was ecstatic and grabbed hold of Rin pulling her into his lap; making her look in surprise at her Mama and Papa, their genuine smiles of delight suddenly told her what had happened and she burst into delighted tears which caused her mate to do the same.
Their parents just laughed at the pair, until the sympathetic wails of their smaller pups joined in; they didn't understand that the older two were happy. Of course the children's noise called in the servants, who had rushed to find out what was wrong and soon the good news was spreading like wildfire throughout the Palace. By the time their meal had ended, everyone who saw them offered their congratulations; from the smallest of the mice youkai to Shingi, who looked as pleased as Punch. Kagura was slightly concerned that all this was all still very early and not all human pregnancies resulted in a live birth; but Sesshoumaru said that the important thing at the moment was the fact that Rin had conceived.
Then for her whole pregnancy, which everyone in the Palace followed every step of the way with eager anticipation; Inuyasha drove her out of her mind by not letting her do anything. He carried her everywhere, made sure she was surrounded by cushions, food and drink and that the pups did not overly tax her. Every chance he got, Inuyasha sniffed at her; especially around her neck and her stomach, absolutely overjoyed when he could finally isolate his pup's scent from that of it's mother. In the end Kagura and Sesshoumaru took pity on the girl by getting the hanyou to go on some patrols with his brother, which he would only do if Kagura promised to guard Rin.
At least sometimes then Rin could feel freedom and not be suffocated, but she unlike Kagome who would have 'sat' Inuyasha for his soft imprisonment; recognised and sympathetically understood his worry, after all she too wanted this pup born safe and well. Soon the scent proclaimed that the pup was a little girl, which was fine as Kagura and Rin could now start thinking of clothes and decorations befitting a small Princess. The news however shocked Inuyasha, it was as if he finally realised the pup was a reality and not just a happy thought.
He was going to be a Papa to a little girl hanyou, who had the potential to be stronger than her Sire; Sesshoumaru told him that because of the strength of the youki being used at the conception of the pup, it would be full hanyou and very strong. Inuyasha was strong in his own right with the amount of youki he'd inherited from his father and when added to that of Sesshoumaru's...there was no way the pup would not be worthy of it's grandfather's lineage. This was a comforting thought for the suddenly nervous Inuyasha; who amidst his daydreams of all his little girl could be and achieve, had the disturbing image of his little bitch pup being tossed out into the wild to fend for herself as he had been.
The picture was so frightening that he didn't hear Sesshoumaru come after him or realise that he was radiating his fear all around. Inuyasha was close to hyperventilating when his brother pulled him close, in order to calm him down;
"Be easy pup, there is nothing to fear."
"Of course it is I, now what is the matter? You are afraid."
"No. it was just a bad idea running away with me that's all. Didn't you have any such fears when you were going to be a Papa?"
"None out of the norm Inuyasha, all parents share certain concerns about becoming responsible for the new life."
"Tell me your fear pup, it can't be nothing; considering the amount it disturbed you."
"It was nothing Sessh, just stupid memories that's all." He turned his head away and Sesshoumaru understood; Inuyasha had seen his little pup in the same situation he had been in himself.
"This Sesshoumaru promises that your fears will never come about. Any pup you have will be safe and well loved by all this family, no harm will come to them; I pledge my life, as you have done for my pups. Which means Inuyasha, that we stand together to protect all of our own; does it not?" Sesshoumaru stared into his brother's eyes intently; letting the hanyou read the sincerity in his own and leaving them unguarded. Inuyasha hugged Sesshoumaru; leaning against him and hearing the steady beating thrum of his brother's heart and remembering when it had soothed him at various times during the years, he let it do so now and knew that his pup would be safe.
Ataeka (not one hundred percent sure, but I mean it to be 'Beautiful Godsend'.) made her appearance one late autumn morning, after waking her Papa up in the early hours; by deciding to break her Mama's waters all over the futon and soaking him in the process. Rin did not have a particularly bad time giving birth, but it was not a short labour and the new mother was very tired with all the hard work; besides having to reassure Inuyasha that she was doing fine. His ears drooped until they were plastered to his head at every sound of discomfort or pain his mate made and he kept popping in to see how things were going, to the despair of Kaede and the midwives because he kept getting in the way.
Eventually he was told to sit down in no uncertain terms by Sesshoumaru, who stood beside him almost daring him to move on pain of being tethered. The hours had dragged for them all, until finally the shout of Rin was accompanied by the wail of a newborn infant. A few minutes later Kagura came out and beckoned Inuyasha in, her eyes shining; then she and one of the midwives left the new little family alone.
Inuyasha looked with awe on the tiny pup in his hands; she looked exactly like he did, except she had two jagged indigo stripes to her little cheeks and over her eyes and around her body. Her small puppy ears were just flaps, lying in the silver hair that had the same bounce and curl as her mother's and her huge golden eyes were alight with life; she was thoroughly, beautiful. Inuyasha kissed his shattered and sleepy mate as the midwife answered the knock on the door to let Sesshoumaru and Kagura back in.
They first went to Rin to make sure that she had come safely through the birth and leaving her to sleep, then Sesshoumaru went to Inuyasha who turned to his brother and held out his pup to him. Sesshoumaru choked at this display of trust from his brother, noting the happy tear trails from the wide amber eyes that were full of love for him and remembering when Inuyasha had held out his toys in much the same way when he was small. He put his arms round Inuyasha and the pup holding them tight and kissing his brother's forehead; fervently promising, that she would never know any of the suffering that her father had seen.
Then he wiped his own eyes and took the little Ataeka from Inuyasha to inspect her. She was smaller than a full youkai pup, but normal for a human baby and very alert; she smiled at her uncle already, captivated by the stripes and moon as she lifted her diminutive claws to try and reach his face.
"Her markings are like your youkai and those of our father Inuyasha; they show she will be strong, hanyou do not normally show their markings unless transforming."
"Really?" Was the wry rejoinder to that statement; if anyone knew that it was Inuyasha, but he grinned at his brother's almost sheepish grin back.
"She really is the most beautiful pup, Little Brother and we must plan her Naming Day; Ataeka, firstborn of the Indigo Crescent." Then Sesshoumaru placed the pup into the crib that Inuyasha had made not so long ago for his pups and left with Kagura to go and tell his own boisterous offspring that they had a little cousin and that they could visit in the morning. They were not going to be the only visitors that next day, Grandmother had come to see them all and was welcomed in by Inuyasha.
"Izayoi would have been delighted over this little lady, Inuyasha and dare I say it, but you would probably have to steal her back from your father. He loved pups and he would have been most impressed with all of his grandchildren." Grandmother remained for the Naming Day, when everyone who attended was very pleased for the new parents; the difficulties they had had in begetting a child was well known, as these things are never able to be hidden very well. Ataeka was held aloft by her very proud uncle and named before all the guests; friends and dignitaries alike. She behaved impeccably for once and all breathed a sigh of relief; for in the month after her birth, she proved to have inherited her father's temper.
When they all retired that night to the crowded family futon; Sesshoumaru pondered over his father's words about having something to protect. He now understood totally his father's wisdom and looking over the family that the Inu no Taisho indirectly left him to inherit; he was saddened that his father had not lived to see, what he could now appreciate. Yet perhaps his father had had some foresight granted him; Sesshoumaru could only hope and believe, that this was always how his father would have wanted his sons and their families to be.
He looked down fondly as Inuyasha sheltered Rin while she fed Ataeka; one day all the pups would grow and leave the family futon, to only sometimes return, but Inuyasha and Rin would be a constant and that thought gladdened his heart. The Western Lands were set for a good future.
Many years later a family were taking the tour of the Higurashi Shrine. To the uninitiated, they might have been college students; although dressed more formally as a visit to a sacred place required. The elderly shrine keeper was regaling them with some of the legends and stories of the old days past and they politely listened, they were all tall and very lovely to look at and Grandfather thought they might have had a family resemblance; but dismissed it as unlikely as there were so many, all about the same age. But they were polite for youngsters today seeming to defer to two of their number, who were almost certainly brothers; if one went by look and the identical signet rings they wore, even although one was the shorter of all the others.
Now they were just sightseeing and the elderly priest bowed and begged them to excuse him for a moment; his granddaughter was fifteen that day and she had been at school. He just wanted to greet her before her friends came to take her out for the evening. So leaving them in the able care of one of the shrine attendents who was also a friend of the family, the old man left. The attendent came over ostensibly to answer any questions of the guests, but really to report that there had been no abnormalities that day so far with the well. It was Shippou who along with his mate and kits had been guarding the Shrine area since Kagome left and there was only the well.
Soon Kagome herself was running up the shrine steps and hugging her grandfather, telling him that she had done well at school and passed her tests. She bowed to the large group of people and ran inside the house to get changed, before her boyfriend Hojo came to pick her up. But she showed no sign of recognition for any of them; even though under the influence of the illusion charm both Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru looked like the hanyou did as a human once a month. Rin was still recognisable too, if any knew her which at one time Kagome did; but it seemed that Midoriko was correct, the time had indeed changed.
The 'student' group started to gradually disperse, until only three of the boys and three of the girls were left. They watched as the shorter boy walked to the well house, which was dark and damp with no sign of any magical properties; besides it being padlocked shut. He then went over to the Goshinboku and ran his hand over the scar on the trunk marking where he had spent fifty years and from where in his time line, he was freed that very day. Kouga and Sesshoumaru decided to take their mates and Rin back to where their cars were waiting to go to dinner, but Inuyasha said he wished to stay; to make sure that nothing untoward happened for the rest of the day.
Rin looked at him carefully and smiled nodding; she understood as she always did and went to join all of their pups and cubs, as they split up to go to their hotel for the family meal. Kouga too looked over the shrine, remembering Kagome; seeing her had done nothing for him now, except for him to be able to say with mild horror that she was so young. For Inuyasha however, the experience was far more profound; as he remembered that had it not been for her, his whole life would have ended sealed on a tree, never to have known his family or love.
But Kouga was right, she was so incredibly young; but then so had he been then, it was only five hundred years ago and his brother not only still called him his pup, but even treated him as such. Heck even his own pups acted older than their beloved Papa; especially if he threw a temper tantrum when they beat him in the dojo, which was usual as even his girls could upend him onto the mats, causing Sesshoumaru to laugh. He would even make a detour from wherever he was, when Inuyasha was in training with his pups; it made for excellent entertainment, but Inuyasha was inordinately proud of his strong offspring and they in turn adored him.
What surprised Inuyasha most of all was, that it was not the sight of Kagome that pulled on his heartstrings. While he got a slight nostalgic sadness seeing her again, especially as she had no idea who he was; he mainly felt a brotherly swell of love towards her as a friend, she was so young and he had long since found his soul mate in Rin. No, it was Mrs Higurashi who unexpectedly caused his eyes to water; she had seen him standing by the Goshinboku and felt compelled to offer him a drink, touching him on the arm and smiling at him as he turned to face her.
"I thought you might like some refreshment; you looked a bit sad as you stood by the tree. Memories perhaps?" Her smile was kind and gentle, just as he remembered and he smiled back at her blinking the water away. But she had noticed. "Sometimes it helps to talk to a stranger." She said, as she sat down next to him on the seat. He sat as well, taking in her calming and familiar scent; marvelling at this woman who had allowed him to take her daughter into danger. Yet she had always welcomed him back into her home; Inuyasha smiled at her, his eyes still damp and bright.
"Once you were very kind to a lonely orphaned boy, who had been overcome at seeing your happy family. You took him into your arms and told him that you would be proud to call him son and you held him like his mother would have done, when he still had her. You did not mock his tears and you never told anyone else about them so he could keep his pride. You will not remember."
But she looked askance at him;
"How strange, you have broken one of my dreams; only he was a boy with silver hair, red clothes and puppy ears. The things the mind does, I'm sorry; you will think me a fool."
"No, never; thank you and thank you for your kindness." He stood and bowed then walked quickly away and out of her sight.
"You're welcome Inuyasha dear, always." Where that name came from she didn't know, but she seemed to be able to see silver hair and puppy ears through a shimmer around the boy. Sometimes she even believed in her Miko powers too; then it was time to lie down if she didn't want a headache.
"I am glad she was kind to you Pup when you used to visit, she has my gratitude." Sesshoumaru had stayed too and now sat with his brother high in the boughs of Goshinboku, waiting for Kagome's birthday to finish uneventfully. Then after taking a last look around at this place, that held so many memories and emotions for him; Inuyasha said farewell to the Higurashi Shrine and it's occupants, to leave for home with his brother. He was looking forward to something to eat and to be surrounded with his family.