A/N: Hi everybody! Did anyone check out my story on deviantart?

Disclaimer: You know what, yes. I magically somehow became the owner of Inuyasha and this will be my last post. Are you happy now? Are you? ARE YOU?

Inuyasha: … I think you broke Songsiren.

Muse: (Nods dumbly)

A far away look entered Inuyasha's eyes. He turned his head towards Sesshoamru.

"She wished me back, you know. With the jewel…"

"Tsukiko," Sesshomaru interrupted, "perhaps you should take Rin to wash up. We will not be staying the night again."

He caught Tsukiko's eye and she seemed to understand, even smiled slightly at him as she took Rin's hand and Ah-Un's reins. Sesshomaru knew he did not want Rin to hear this conversation; she did not like it when she found out about the danger her Lord was in, despite his ability to take care of himself. Sesshomaru also knew that he did not want Tsukiko to find out about the jewel or his dealings with Naraku. 'The hanyou is none of her business.' He told himself.

When the rustling of leaves died down, he turned back to his brother, who was watching him curiously. When Sesshomaru simply stared Inuyasha down, the former hanyou gave him a languid smile.

"Your mate?"

"No," Sesshomaru replied, his voice as strong as stone.

Inuyasha's smile widened, revealing pearly fangs. "Yeah, she is too kind for your cold ass."

Sesshomaru might have lowered himself to snort if he was talking to one of his staff. "So says the demon that just met her."

A knowing look entered Inuyasha's eyes, "She annoys you."

Sesshomaru considered his next words carefully, knowing that even here with his no-account brother, a single slip could mean attacks on his country, his allies and even himself, and more than just physical attacks. Still, as he could not afford to speak irrationally, so too could he not afford to stall too long. Sometimes silence tells just as much as a misplaced word.

"About as much as a buzzing gnat."

Inuyasha shook his head. "She's pretty enough though. That why you keep her around?"

"Careful, Inuyasha," Sesshomaru warned, "or you may say something you will regret." He allowed his youkai to flare a bit, a dog demon's equivalent to raising his hackles.

"I get it, I get it," Inuyasha said, "I'll leave it alone." Under his breath, Sesshomaru heard him mutter, "For now."

"For now and for ever, mongrel," Sesshomaru gritted out. He doubted that his infinite patience would last much longer.

"Hn," Inuyasha said, uncommitted.

"You've yet to explain yourself, Inuyasha," Sesshomaru prompted indiscreetly.

Inuyasha seemed ready to get lost in himself once again.

"It was during the battle, or after, I guess. Kagome managed to pluck the jewel from Narku's ashen body but… she was dying. I was sitting right next to her, Sesshomaru." His voice cracked, "She looked right at me…"

As tears threatened to fall again, Sesshomaru muttered not unkindly, "Get a hold of your self."

Inuyasha nodded mutely and swallowed hard before continuing, "She looked at me and wished for me to be alive, safe and happy. And then… she was gone…" Inuyasha let out an animal noise of anguish and hid his face in his hands, his shoulder shaking.

Sesshomaru drew his own conclusions on how that little scene must have gone; no wonder his brother was in the condition he was in. He allowed Inuyasha a moment of silence.

When the appropriate amount of time had time had gone by, Sesshomaru finished Inuyasha's story, "So the jewel turned you into a demon, because that is what your Kagome believed to be able to make you safe and happy." He ended the sentence as if looking for confirmation.

Inuyasha answered his unasked question indirectly, "When I woke up, everyone was gone. Kagome, Miroku, Sango, Shippo even you. Everything in my life that ever had any meaning was blown away. Even the village wouldn't take me back. They called me demon… so here is where I stayed."

Sesshomaru delicately sniffed the air, searching for what a dog (though certainly not a dog demon) would search for upon meeting any dog. A slightly sweet, musky scent filled his nostrils, making him want to cough. Inuyasha was diseased physically. He had not been taking care of himself (as he was in too crazed a state to do so) and he had certainly not been cleaning himself. He was filthy enough to want Sesshomaru to recoil in revulsion, but emaciated enough that Sesshomaru's (slowly!) thawing heart would not allow him in good conscience to leave his half-brother in a state that would spell certain death within a few months.

Besides, what kind of image would it bring to Sesshomaru's household if it ever got out that his half-brother died of disease in a place such a this? Dirty and alone? No, that would never do.


Tsukiko sat with her back to Ah-Un, telling Rin a story. A few times she nearly watered the story down for Rin, but the girl could tell (Tsukiko had never been good at lying outright; she had to practice beforehand) and demanded Tsukiko "tell the truth!" Then, of course, Tsukiko would tell the story again, only a little less diluted. Some things even teenagers did not have to know.

It was as she was finished her story that she sensed Sesshomaru. As he entered the small area that Tsukiko had found that was dry enough to start an inconspicuous fire, she noticed that he was not alone. The demon from the forest, Inuyasha was following him. Both she and Rin stood, as respectable women should do when royalty walk into a room (or place of living, in this case).

Sesshomaru sent Tsukiko a look. They held eyes for a moment, and the contact made Tsukiko's skin prickle. She hoped that her cheeks would blush. She understood Sesshomaru's message and nodded back, managing a week smile. Sesshomaru gave no sign of acknowledging her understanding, but merely moved to walk through the clearing and into the forest. When he walked away, Tsukiko turned her attention to Inuyasha.

"Welcome, Lord Inuyasha. I will serve dinner in a few minutes.

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