Makeup flashfic for alterfano at 6400 words. Way to overdo it, Aiffe. And way to keep it "platonic." ('s not platonic.)

After Inuyasha's mother died, he went to live with the only family he had left. At the time, it did not seem so terrible to be a hanyou, for though he did not have the best of both worlds, there was at least a place for him in either. He never called Sesshoumaru's mother by filial titles, for she was not his mother, and he knew it, but she was not unkind to him, and he was content to be in her house.

Inuyasha rather liked his half-brother. Perhaps because they first met when Inuyasha was six and Sesshoumaru ten, or perhaps because after all, they were only half-brothers, Inuyasha always called Sesshoumaru by his name, rather than the appropriate titles one gives to an elder sibling. So in that sense, their relationship was un-brotherly.

However, it couldn't be denied that Inuyasha looked up to Sesshoumaru. He clearly admired Sesshoumaru's quiet stoicism, and did his best to copy it. In a few years, he'd changed from the rambunctious, often tearful child that his mother had known, to a self-contained young man of few words. Sesshoumaru was his idol, his role-model. In that sense, their relationship was brotherly.

Inuyasha wasn't exactly sure when things that oughtn't happen between brothers started taking place. It seemed organic, how it developed, completely natural. As Inuyasha came to an age where desires entered his flesh, Sesshoumaru was there to sate them. It was just like that.

At first, Inuyasha only gave his implicit consent, by not saying anything, or by bucking his hips into Sesshoumaru's hand. It was a passive kind of consent, for he was afraid to really say yes, but he knew he didn't want these things to stop. Later, he became the aggressor, the first one to break their unwritten rule of mutual masturbation and take Sesshoumaru into his mouth.

Though their relationship was something Inuyasha never would have initiated on his own, he did not feel taken advantage of. There was no doubt in his mind that Sesshoumaru would have stopped if he'd shown any inkling of discomfort. He didn't think he was attracted to Sesshoumaru, per se—even then he knew that he liked girls—but he did love him, and he loved the pleasure he gave him.

Perhaps it had been the isolation that drove them to it. In that castle in the clouds, they had felt so far removed from the rest of the world. Meeting a lover from the outside world seemed unlikely, a distant dream. Both understood implicitly that this was not going to be forever, that someday there would be other people—this was only practice, a sacrifice they made to cure their loneliness.

And yet, Inuyasha felt that he would always look back on these days with a kind of fondness, his first innocent pleasures with the only person in the world he trusted.

Then, one day, when Inuyasha was eleven and Sesshoumaru was fifteen, Sesshoumaru's mother found them, Inuyasha just succumbing to the pleasures of Sesshoumaru's mouth.

It was much harder on Sesshoumaru than it was on Inuyasha. Of course, she thought Inuyasha had been victimized. He was immediately absolved of blame. (Although, he didn't want to be, because some of it had been him, and Sesshoumaru should not carry that burden alone.) For his part, she only thought that she had failed him, allowing him to be abused in her house.

But she thought she had failed Sesshoumaru in a deeper sense. The look on her face when she found them was utterly clear: How did I raise such a thing.

Sesshoumaru had many talks with his mother after that, but Inuyasha was not privy to them, and did not know what was said. Sesshoumaru certainly didn't tell him. A complete change went over him, and Sesshoumaru wouldn't even answer him when spoken to. When Inuyasha tried to take Sesshoumaru's hand, as he had done long before there had been anything sexual between them, Sesshoumaru would freeze for a moment, and yank his hand away.

It was unclear to Inuyasha whether Sesshoumaru was blaming him for what happened, and taking it out on him, or if Sesshoumaru felt he was untrustworthy around his younger brother, and distanced himself to protect him. But either way, Inuyasha was hurt. He would have understood if Sesshoumaru had wanted to stop fooling around, but being rejected as a brother as well stung. First he pleaded with his brother, but when he still found himself scorned, his pain turned to anger. He felt he'd been made to humiliate himself, by begging for a friendship Sesshoumaru so obviously did not want. Worse yet, by showing weakness, he'd done something un-Sesshoumaru-like. Even as he began to hate his brother, he still longed to be more like him.

Resentment built, and old wounds festered. Surely, if Sesshoumaru loved Inuyasha, it was a love he was also ashamed of. He refused to show it. And Inuyasha, now finding himself outside his brother's love, remembered their earlier trysts with only embarrassment. He couldn't stand that Sesshoumaru had seen him so vulnerable. It was an intolerable mistake that he must forever compensate for by always appearing stronger, tougher, more independent in his brother's eyes. But he was not independent. Even by being cruel to Sesshoumaru, he sought his approval.

Eventually, the boys had had enough. Though they were now the furthest thing from lovers, living together in a house where all their secrets were known was unbearable. So when Inuyasha was fifteen and Sesshoumaru nineteen, they struck out on their own, to find their fortunes.

They met many times after that, but it was a very long time before either of them mellowed into civility. Even when their goals coincided over Naraku, it had been beyond them to work together, and after Naraku was gone, they parted ways again for a long while. Their few meetings after that were entirely by accident, and marked by a curious awkwardness with the bitterness gone out of it.

And then, well, they met once more, and neither had the strength to hate the other very much.

They didn't even look much like themselves. Youkai had gone into hiding, and both had dyed their hair black. Sesshoumaru was taking a concoction that lessened his youki, which made him harder to hunt, and also erased the youkai markings from his flesh. Even his eyes seemed somehow darker, though that may not have been the drug. Inuyasha was aware of such things, and with them, could have lived completely as a human, but that would have meant growing old and dying as one too, and Inuyasha was rather attached to his longevity. He wore a wide-brimmed traveller's hat, to hide his ears and shade his eyes, and like Sesshoumaru now wore less distinctive clothes.

After everything they'd been through, both were surprised to see the other alive, and more surprised at how much this pleased them. Sesshoumaru was the first to stop staring in astonishment. He tossed his head rather regally, and said, "Time has treated you well, little brother."

"And you," Inuyasha said appreciatively. While Inuyasha was at least still young and beautiful, aside from his disguise nothing at all had changed about Sesshoumaru. He seemed utterly outside time. "But, that's to be expected, really."

"No," Sesshoumaru said softly, without bothering to explain why. Then, he muttered a simple, "Until we meet again," and went on his way.

Inuyasha caught his sleeve with a quick grace learned from many years of fighting. Sesshoumaru arched an eyebrow and looked over his shoulder at his brother, a sort of implied do you really want to do this? in his gaze.

"All these years, I thought you were dead for sure. Stay and talk a while," Inuyasha said. But despite the almost kind meaning of his words, his tone was harsh and nearly threatening. That was the only acceptable form of affection between them.

Perhaps Sesshoumaru understood. "I have nothing to say to you," he said. "You cut my arm off, you son of a whore."

Inuyasha seemed unimpressed by this. "It grew back, you big whiny baby."

Of course, that was Sesshoumaru's weak spot. More horrible than being dismembered was letting anyone know that something—even said dismemberment—could actually get to him. Sesshoumaru's lip began to curl in a snarl that he quickly tamed. "Say your piece, little brother. For old time's sake, I will allow this."

"Old time's sake?" Inuyasha repeated in astonishment. "I thought we never talk about 'old times'."

Sesshoumaru smiled scathingly. "I have no idea what you're referring to. Perhaps your human mind has already buckled under the weight of senility."

"Heh," Inuyasha said, almost a laugh. "I thought after Rin, your hatred for humans had subsided."

Sesshoumaru blinked. "I never hated humans. That was you, remember?"

"Me? Don't be absurd. My own mother was human—and knew the touch of none but our father, thank you very much. Youkai or not, I think it's you that's gone a bit seedy with time. You teased me mercilessly for my human blood, told me I was inferior."

Sesshoumaru shook his sleeve free of Inuyasha's grip, but made no move to leave. "You thought you were inferior. I merely told you what you already feared, as a tactic against you. What better reason to hate humans, than to carry their heritage oneself? I never had any animus towards them, or hanyou for that matter. Rather than humans, it was you I hated."

"Well, you were stupid for hating me," Inuyasha said, still slightly taken aback by Sesshoumaru's confession. "Father didn't love me best—he knew I was inferior. He left everything to me because he knew my best hope was in his shadow. He loved you too much to burden you with his legacy. He wanted you to have your own legacy, to stand tall and be great. You have no idea how much I envied you that, how much I just wanted to give you Tessaiga." Inuyasha caught himself, shocked at the things that were pouring out of his mouth. "I think I've wanted to say that to you for a very long time," he ended lamely.

Sesshoumaru seemed to ignore his embarrassing outburst, a mercy Inuyasha was grateful for. "Do you carry it still?" he asked.

"Tessaiga? Of course I do. Without it, know. But I haven't used it in a long time. Youkai swords are more trouble than they're worth in this day and age." Then, hesitantly, "Do you still have yours? ...Bakusaiga?"

"Yes. But I don't carry my swords with me anymore. As you said, more trouble than they're worth. Besides, there's nothing around these days that I cannot defeat unarmed."

"Yeah, tell me about it. Tessaiga's probably rusted in its sheath, I haven't drawn it in so long." He smiled a little, completely different from Sesshoumaru's smile, at the simple pleasure of being able to talk about things that really mattered to him with someone who understood. Even the few sniveling youkai that were still around knew nothing of great power and legendary swords. He'd been recognized by some tanuki a few years ago, that had been floored by amazement and kept calling him lord-this-or-that. That's when he'd realized what he missed. He had no equals in this new world. There was no need for another with strength like his, no need even for him.

Sesshoumaru still said nothing, so Inuyasha asked, "Where are you staying?"

"I'm not," Sesshoumaru replied.

Inuyasha puzzled over this for a moment, mentally translating from Sesshoumaru to Japanese. "You're a wandering vagabond still?"

Sesshoumaru didn't answer, but Inuyasha knew he'd hit the nail on the head. "What about your mother's place?" he asked.

"I won't go back there, you know that."

Inuyasha knew how much Sesshoumaru loved his mother. It was sad, really, that his shame should keep him from her, even after all these years. He was sure she would have forgiven him by now.

"Well, then, come stay with me," Inuyasha surprised himself by saying. He had by no means forgiven his brother himself, and there was still this tight ball of hatred in his gut when he thought the name Sesshoumaru, but some part of him felt that, in a sense, he and Sesshoumaru had found themselves on the same side, in a way they hadn't even been in the war against Naraku. For a fleeting moment his mind went back to when they were children, not to the things they did in the dark, but how Sesshoumaru looked out for him then, the playful way he'd ruffle his ears, back before touching him seemed to burn his skin. He remembered how even later, though of course Sesshoumaru would never admit it, he had still seemed to be there for him, always showing up in the nick of time, a sort of Deus ex Sesshoumaru. He had wondered at those times if the old affection was still there, still salvageable.

Well, now it's my turn to look after him, Inuyasha thought, and resentment mingled with pride.

It amazed him more when Sesshoumaru actually followed him home.

There was always a distance between them, but over the years they became, if not brotherly, at least comfortable with each other. There was no hint of the old lust between them. That seemed sealed a thousand years in the past, and neither had the courage or the desire to attempt to dredge it up. In fact, they hardly even touched at all. If they both reached for the same thing at the same time, they would pull their hands back, and Inuyasha would apologize. Yet a closeness grew between them that ordinary friendship couldn't touch. They knew everything there was to know about each other, even secrets too terrible to be spoken.

Inuyasha continued to take interest in women, and would occasionally marry, which only once ended in divorce. Usually, though, he would just love them until they faded and died, as was the way of humans. Perhaps it was Sesshoumaru that kept him from losing his mind then, not through any great compassion, but simply by being a constant in his life. Everything else came and went, but at the end of each day, Sesshoumaru was there.

Inuyasha walked into their apartment and sighed. "Sesshoumaru, how many times have I told you about letting your hair drip on the floor after you take a bath?" he grumbled.

Sesshoumaru, his hair dry and silky by now, looked up over the spine of his book at Inuyasha. "You're home late," he said.

"You should use a towel or something. We have hardwood floors, and they get all warped from water sitting on them. This isn't the Sengoku Jidai, you know, you can't just drip all over everything."

"Is it another girl?" Sesshoumaru asked, seemingly intent on carrying on two completely different conversations at the same time.

Inuyasha groaned and gave in. "No, it isn't. And you never care about my business unless I'm lecturing you."

Sesshoumaru shrugged and returned to his book.

After a while, there had seemed little point in hiding their appearances. No one would suspect them of being youkai anymore. After all, what fool would admit to believing in mythological creatures? Sesshoumaru walked the streets in modern attire with his long silver hair and full youkai markings, practically reeking of youki, and the most anyone ever said was "Rad tattoo, man!" Inuyasha had also let his hair return to its natural color, but wore a bandanna or a hat over his ears, and had to be careful not to let anyone see him on the night of the new moon.

It had taken centuries for Inuyasha to stop carrying Tessaiga with him everywhere—even when it became illegal for non-samurai to bear weapons openly, he had strapped it to his leg under his hakama—but gradually he'd realized that there was nothing left to provoke his youkai blood. He hadn't transformed in ages.

Finally, they were in Kagome's time.

The first time he saw her, it was like being struck in the chest. She had to be about six or seven, wearing an elementary school uniform, and giggling with a group of girls her age. He had no pretext under which to approach her, and was afraid to anyway. So he just watched. After a few minutes, a man had said, "That's my little girl," pointing out a child next to Kagome, holding a little pink plastic purse. "Which one's yours?"

Inuyasha had blinked, his reverie broken. "None of them are mine," he'd said, and paused, realizing he'd need to explain to this man why he'd been staring at a group of little girls. "I was just remembering when I was younger." There was a lot of truth in those words, and the man had nodded.

But now, Kagome was older, and she'd taken to travelling through the well.

Now that she knew him, he was more tempted than ever to approach her. He didn't appear so unchanged that Kagome would mistake him for his younger self: he had matured, his face had become more angular and lost some of its youthful sweetness, and he'd gotten a little taller. But she would know him.

He would fantasize about it, about sneaking into her room at night and touching that soft skin that he had not felt in hundreds of years. It wasn't just her virginity he wanted to steal from his younger self, but everything, everything that was Kagome. He would tell her that he saw her die, (which was true, at the ripe old age of eighty-one) and that she should not go down the well again—no, that she should seal it, and live her life here, with him. Then he would do what he should have done the first time, and drink that youki-killing potion to the dregs, and live his life with her as a human being. It would not matter when her skin began to wrinkle, because his would be wrinkled too, and they could smile about it. He told himself, it was for this that I have lived so long.

But he didn't go to her. He continued to watch her, as the signs of love—for him, the other him—became more apparent in her. He even watched himself, although he had to be very careful, for he knew how wary he had been in his younger days. So it was from more of a distance that he watched himself come through the well, watched that time he'd helped her get to that important test on time, watched the first time they kissed, sitting on Kagome's bed. It was like a living memory, and Inuyasha remembered how his heart had pounded, how he'd been afraid that she wouldn't like him, would say his mouth tasted bad or he wasn't doing it right. And bitter envy grew within him. He hated that other Inuyasha, for having while he could only watch. He remembered everything that Inuyasha would eventually have, and hated him more.

He could do it better. He knew how Kagome liked to be kissed, and he would never forget it. He would be so gentle with her on her first time, would give her so much pleasure. He knew things about her body that she herself would not know for years. There would be no awkwardness, no embarrassment, not with the Kagome that he knew better than he knew himself. And his love for her had only gotten stronger over the years, strange to say, despite the fact that he had loved others and married several times. He knew how to live in the modern world, was stronger, more mature.

As he thought these thoughts, his hatred for his younger self grew. He wished that he had become human then, so he could have grown old and died with her, the way he should have. Did you think the future held anything better? he screamed in his mind to his younger self. Is there anything in the future so worth living to see, better than completing your life with the one you love?

Yet, Inuyasha knew that he could not do these things. History only happened once. If he took her from his younger self, he would lose all those wonderful memories, his memories of a lifetime with her love, and despite his hatred for his younger self, he was not ready to part with those. Worse still, how many times had she saved his life? Without her, he might die then, and his current self might vanish like a dream, their life together unlived. He saw that if he were greedy now, he might poison everything they had ever had.

Finally living in the same time, he could look at Kagome, but not touch.

Inuyasha came back to his apartment late again. "Oh, Sesshoumaru," he grumbled, "using a towel does no good if you just dump it wet on the floor. Have some respect for the other people living here."

They worked for a living only sporadically. Having made enough money to support them for a time, they saw no need to continue working, and would only resume when their funds got dangerously low. As it was, neither had worked in fifty years, and they had enough to live off at least that long over again. Their needs were sparse, as they never got sick, and Sesshoumaru didn't even eat. Clothes they wore as long as they could get away with, and not be considered grievously out of date.

"Another girl, Inuyasha?" Sesshoumaru asked again.

"I already told you, no."

"The same girl, then," Sesshoumaru said, a perceptive look in his eye.

"Maybe," Inuyasha said, and then, "What would you know, anyway? I've never seen you with man or woman, human or youkai. Are you exempt from all hungers, and not just the need to eat?"

He thought he saw an odd look cross Sesshoumaru's face—hurt?—but then it was gone. "I have wondered, myself."

The next time he watched Kagome, it took him a while to notice the youkai standing next to him, so intent was he on his subject. When he finally did see Sesshoumaru there, several feelings rushed up in him in quick succession: a feeling of privacy invaded; surprise at seeing Sesshoumaru leave the house at all; anger at the fact that he hadn't noticed him sooner; and finally, a kind of relief at not being alone. He was beginning to feel like a ghost, living unseen on the outskirts of Kagome's life. So, against his better judgment, Inuyasha said nothing and allowed Sesshoumaru to stay.

After some time, Sesshoumaru said, "She's that girl from before. Kimeko, Kasumi..."

"Kagome," Inuyasha corrected, somewhat annoyed. And then, as a private joke to himself, "Her name is Kagome. Ka-go-me."

"Ah," was all Sesshoumaru said.

"You don't remember the past very well, huh?" Inuyasha asked.

"It's part of being a daiyoukai," Sesshoumaru responded. "In order to live a very long time, one must forget. You, on the other hand, have the memory of a human, designed to remember only one lifetime well."

Inuyasha realized that he was right. He could hardly remember anything about the wives he had taken later in life. The only thing that stuck with him very strongly was his first hundred years or so, his first human lifetime. His lifetime with Kagome.

"I thought you were hung up on the past too," Inuyasha said at length. "I thought that you were still pining for some other girl—Rin, maybe?—in your own era-long fashion. That that was your reason for not looking at other girls."

Inuyasha may have been partly right: the name Rin did produce a reaction on Sesshoumaru's face. But then Sesshoumaru said, "Rin was never my lover."

"Someone else, then?"

"There was no one else."

Inuyasha chewed on that for a while. "I'm tempted to say that you're just cold, and have no carnal desire. But I know firsthand that that's not the case." Sesshoumaru's face remained completely unreadable to the outside eye, but to Inuyasha, who had known him for centuries, there was shock at the mention of things they had sworn to never speak of, and the slow rise of hatred.

"You have no idea," Sesshoumaru said, and there was a bitterness in his voice the likes of which Inuyasha had never heard before, something from the cold depths of Sesshoumaru's soul that he'd never let anyone see. His voice trembled, and Inuyasha was sure that even Sesshoumaru's mother had not heard such an intimate thing from him. "After...after...after the things we did became known..." he trailed off, evidently trying to regain control of himself. "Back then, when we touched each other, my mind would wander. I thought of women, of men, of anything but my little brother. You were not my desire."

Inuyasha nodded. "It was the same with me. I fantasized about other things."

Sesshoumaru smiled, his strange youkai smile that was full of hate. "But after we were caught, if anything touched me, if I touched myself, immediately, against my will, images of you would appear in my mind." Inuyasha looked at him with shock and horror, and Sesshoumaru continued. "Every time I gave myself pleasure, it was worse, the thoughts of you were stronger, no matter how I tried to fight them. Soon I could no longer continue that, for at the slightest sign of arousal, you were there in my mind, and I would choke on bile. My atonement, for using you for my pleasure."

"Are you saying never?" Inuyasha asked in astonishment. "I mean, I never caught you at it, so I thought you were just really private about it, but...doesn't everyone?"

"Not," Sesshoumaru said, his words clipped, "since a few weeks after we were discovered. Not once since then." His face hardened. "And when others would get close to me, it was the same."

Inuyasha could do nothing but look at him, clearly shocked. "I never knew...that it had that kind of effect on you," he started, but Sesshoumaru cut him off. Clearly, once he started to say something, he intended to finish. This moment had waited for five hundred years.

"I have often thought that Rin had been my one chance to free myself of this. With youkai women, they expected me to be strong and confident when it came to matters of the flesh. Rin would have been patient with me. She would not have thought less of me. All her adult life, she desired me, a desire I was unable to fulfill." His voice lowered. "You have no idea, Inuyasha, how much I hated you then. It had nothing to do with Father or his accursed swords. What we did back then was an abomination. I hated you for not paying the price, as I did."

Pity mingled with his horror as Inuyasha looked at Sesshoumaru, knowing for the first time that he had been the only one to ever touch him. They had only been children. He hadn't meant to take away Sesshoumaru's life like that. And he knew that the last thing Sesshoumaru would want was his pity. What did he want, then? Inuyasha asked himself. Hesitantly, he brought his hand to Sesshoumaru's face, and brushed a few stray hairs away from it, steeling himself for what he was thinking of doing.

Sesshoumaru's reaction came like lightning. Faster than Inuyasha could blink, he found Sesshoumaru's claws through his chest, and he could smell the dokkasou burning through his flesh. Inuyasha took a few shallow, painful breaths, and stared at Sesshoumaru in disbelief. After all these years?

"Look at Kagome," Sesshoumaru commanded, and Inuyasha did, wincing with the additional pain even this small movement brought him. She was tidying up her pink little room, and just then she turned to look out the window, look in his direction, as if she could feel his gaze on her. For one terrible moment Inuyasha thought he'd been seen by her, but then she resumed her work, her expression dreamy. She did not have sight like theirs.

Longing grew in Inuyasha again, despite his physical distress, at the sight of Kagome. "Close your eyes," Sesshoumaru instructed, and he did. Then there were lips on his, and with the poison sending jolts of pain and fear through him, and making his movements less controlled, it did feel like the first time he'd kissed Kagome.

Inuyasha lay on his bed, half in and out of fever. It had been so long since he'd been wounded like that. He had forgotten it, the thrill of such sharp pain, the bitter iron taste in the air. Sesshoumaru had not pierced his heart, but he suspected his right lung was not as lucky. He touched the wound, feeling where the ribs had splintered and he'd been run clean through, and his fingertips came away raw with corrosive poison. Yet, Inuyasha could feel his heart beating, and he knew that he was healing. Already the hole was smaller and less painful than it had been. Within a day or two, there wouldn't even be a mark.

The thin crack of light at the door widened, and he saw Sesshoumaru's silhouette. It was a sort of unwritten rule that neither entered or even looked in the other's room, so despite all their years of living together, the sight of Sesshoumaru in his doorway reminded him of much longer ago. Back when he had been so sure that Sesshoumaru would never hurt him. He fought the urge to laugh at that thought, knowing how much laughter would hurt.

Sesshoumaru tossed something on the bed, and Inuyasha regarded it with disinterest. A roll of bandages. Did he think that little of him? "I may be half-human," Inuyasha drawled out, looking at the bandages in distaste, "but I heal like a youkai. I have no need for such a thing."

"Of course," Sesshoumaru said. "But this is not the Sengoku Jidai; you can't just bleed all over everything. You left a pool of corrosive blood on the hardwood floor. Do you have any idea what that's going to do to our deposit when we move out?"

This time, Inuyasha was unable to prevent laughing, though he immediately regretted it. He spat up a little blood, and clutched his chest in pain. "So, use a towel to clean it up."

"I did," Sesshoumaru said icily, and held up the tattered remains of what could have once been a towel.

"Well, that's your fucking dokkasou, not my blood that's doing that," Inuyasha grumbled. "How do you usually get rid of that stuff, anyway?"

Sesshoumaru shrugged. "That's the victim's problem. Anyway, I haven't used it in hundreds of years."

"You really must hate me, huh," Inuyasha said. Sesshoumaru took a few steps into the forbidden territory of his room, and slid the door shut soundlessly behind him.

In the darkness, Sesshoumaru hissed, "More than you can ever know."

"You think I haven't paid," Inuyasha said. "But for all my life may have seemed freer than yours, both our paths have led to the same place in the end."

Sesshoumaru sat down on the bed beside him. "Is that so?" he asked, then made a sound that in a less dignified personage would have been a snort. "My mother did warn me against running away. She said—"

"...that I would only go in circles," Inuyasha finished. Then, "I'm sorry, about the Meidou Zangetsuha. It wasn't even useful to me." He reached under the sheets and drew Tessaiga. Sesshoumaru raised an eyebrow at the sight of the sword, but Inuyasha said, "No, to make sure I don't transform. I've forgotten where the threshold is." He held the blade until it turned black. "It was always yours," Inuyasha said. "You earned your pathway to Hell."

Sesshoumaru held Inuyasha's hands in his own, the first truly brotherly thing he had done in hundreds of years. "It doesn't matter now," he said. "Of course, attempting to perfect the Meidou Zangetsuha brought me to you. It is like the completion of all circles in my life."

Both were silent after that, and Inuyasha frowned a bit, as if thinking it over. One hand had gone back to clutching the hole in his chest, but the other still held Tessaiga. He didn't seem to be able to decide which one to let go of, and as a third hand did not present itself, he eventually released his grip on Tessaiga. He didn't move his hand immediately to Sesshoumaru, but hesitated for a few minutes, his hand close enough that Sesshoumaru could feel the heat of it, but never quite touching. Finally, it landed on the bit of exposed skin where Sesshoumaru's button-down shirt had rucked up, and he felt the smoothness of Sesshoumaru's belly, accented with a few hairs that led downward from his navel.

Inuyasha had taken to wearing jeans in the modern era, but Sesshoumaru never did; even today, when he had finally accepted Western garb, he wore more formal pants. Inuyasha was surprised by the fineness of the fabric when he touched Sesshoumaru's pants, and soon baffled when tried to undo the top clasp. It had taken long enough for Inuyasha to accustom himself to buttons, let alone the metal hooks of Sesshoumaru's clothes. He struggled with it for a few seconds, gave up, and moved on to the zipper. It slid down like water and made hardly a sound, so unlike the rough zippers of Inuyasha's jeans. Inuyasha slipped his fingers inside, and found something soft, softer than the silk of Sesshoumaru's boxers or his exquisitely fine pants. Almost the second that skin had brushed skin, he felt Sesshoumaru's hand on his wrist, shaking slightly. Sesshoumaru's hand pulled his hand back the slightest fraction, eliminating contact. Inuyasha tried to meet Sesshoumaru's eyes in the dark, confused. He would have sworn that Sesshoumaru had been hard.

Sesshoumaru pushed Inuyasha on his back suddenly, and Inuyasha cried out, more from the pain of his wound than anything else. Sesshoumaru then removed Inuyasha's jeans—no, removed wasn't the word, he tore them off like a savage, not bothering about buttons or zippers or anything, not caring if denim or metal cut into Inuyasha's sensitive areas as he did so—and hovered above him. Inuyasha could feel Sesshoumaru's disappointment as his fingers closed around his flaccid penis. Things were not as they had been in their adolescence. But then Inuyasha felt Sesshoumaru's warm, wet tongue on him, and the situation was quickly remedied.

It didn't take long for Inuyasha to forget himself. It had been decades since he'd known pleasure at the hands of another, and lately with all his spying on Kagome, his frustration had mounted to such levels that even masturbation did little to help. At first, he just let his mind wander to thoughts of Kagome, imagined that she was the one sucking him, and oh, that was heaven. But the fantasy faded, and he was left with the reality of Sesshoumaru there instead, and his feelings became conflicted. He had longed all these years for the love of his brother, but this was not the part of their relationship he had sought to reclaim. This, if he recalled correctly, was what had poisoned their relationship to begin with.

He puzzled over Sesshoumaru's reluctance to be touched as well, and pity grew in him again. For Sesshoumaru, there would be no moving on, no existing as brothers again, no new loves to take away the sting of these transgressions. He sat up suddenly, and cried out again from his wound—he had already forgotten it—though he found the pain to be less intense, already on its way to being healed. He gripped Sesshoumaru by the shoulders and forced him up, a growl starting at the back of his throat at the sharp pain that ran through him. They were standing on Inuyasha's futon now, Inuyasha pinning Sesshoumaru against the wall. Now that his eyes had adjusted to the dark, he could see Sesshoumaru's face. There was something in Sesshoumaru's eyes that seemed to expect death; nay, welcome it. Inuyasha felt a pang that for once, had nothing to do with being run through. He had no intention of killing Sesshoumaru.

His own erection still throbbing, Inuyasha found the metal hook in Sesshoumaru's pants again and tore it, enjoying the sound of fine threads snapping. Sesshoumaru made an unintelligible sound at that, but Inuyasha didn't know if it was out of lust or just because the pants were expensive. He pulled the pants and boxers down more gently, knowing Sesshoumaru must be sore with arousal. He had intended to suck him, but when his fingers merely touched Sesshoumaru's erection lightly, he heard Sesshoumaru's breath come sharply, and couldn't resist torturing him like that for a minute or two. When finally he took Sesshoumaru into his mouth, he heard his breath become labored as though he were enduring great pain. Finally there were moans on it like choked sobs, sounds that he had never made back when they were young.

Sesshoumaru's knees buckled when he came, and Inuyasha nearly hurt him with his teeth. Inuyasha lowered him gently onto the bed. He was still erect himself, and quite tempted to just release the pressure with his own hands, but he didn't. He'd gotten surprisingly good at dealing with frustration over time. Instead, he laid down close to Sesshoumaru. It was a strange feeling: Sesshoumaru neither lover nor brother to him, but feeling almost like an extension of himself.

He knew that that was the first orgasm Sesshoumaru had had in five centuries, and he knew that just as he had been the one to swallow Sesshoumaru's first drops of semen, he would be the last. It wasn't fair, it wasn't equal. There had been others for him. But, he realized, the only one he had ever wanted was Kagome, and she was now centuries beyond his reach, for all she seemed so close. It had taken no less than five hundred years for their paths to take them back where they began: utterly isolated, with none but each other with whom to act out their desires.