Hidden Child

PART ONE...The Youkai.

The fact that Inuyasha was going to be alone for over a week had nothing to do with the Youkai's decision to stay in the area. It was not his concern if the hanyou's pathetic choice had been to stay and guard the old Miko and the village of useless beings, instead of keeping more securely amongst his slightly less than useless friends. The idiotic creature had made sure that the Kit had gone with the monk and slayer on the firecat, when they went to visit her old village and his old master; while the strange Little Miko went home for studies and tests for about ten days. As the Youkai understood things, Inuyasha could have gone with her; but he was being noble apparently, as the village was vulnerable.

The Youkai prepared to camp in a place he knew was defensible and was close enough for Rin to obtain food from the nearby village fields; plus had the benefit of huntable wildlife and running water. Telling himself that it because Naraku had gone to ground and until there was a good enough clue to his whereabouts, he would not give the vile hanyou the satisfaction of watching him walk around in ever decreasing circles searching for him.

The decision had nothing to do with his own hanyou relative who after a few days on his own, would start to shed his gruff exterior and become more insecure; as the pup he really was emerged, when no one was around. It was nothing to do with the Youkai if the fool's imagination made him start to feel abandoned and lost, when his friends departed for any length of time. If Sesshoumaru had noticed in the past that Inuyasha would keep a look out for him when he was lonely, for the small cold comfort it gave the pup to know that his strong sibling was around; it had no bearing whatsoever on the need of Rin to have a rest from the long wanderings.

Inuyasha and his pitiful well being was of no consequence to This Sesshoumaru; he certainly felt no regrets over his harsh treatment of his brother in the past, or at least that is what he told himself. He had already searched the clearing and found the place that Inuyasha would most likely use to spy on him and if the clearing was on the edge of the meadow where the well that the Miko used was to be found, then so be it. The Youkai was not going to move for her sake, so if the foolhardy hanyou had to stay in the general area to keep an eye on both himself and the well, that was his own lookout; he could always go into the village and further away if he so wished.

It was also obvious that with their limited human brain capacity, his brother's companions had forgotten that the new moon would be in a few days and Inuyasha would therefore face his night of mortality; once again, unprotected in their absence. But no matter; Sesshoumaru would not lower himself to attack the whelp when he was not at full strength and as no one else was allowed to dispose of the younger except the elder, he would be safe enough under the youkai's observation for that particular night. But that was just a matter of personal honour; it was not a sign that he cared at all for the irritant, thorn in his flesh.

Having secured the perimeter of his camp and alerting his brother to his presence by reaching out to Inuyasha with his aura; Sesshoumaru made sure that his ward and retainers were settled before he went off to hunt. Once that was done and he was replete, the youkai went to search for his brother; the whelp had not yet acknowledged his lordly sibling or shown his obeisance as was appropriate. Whether or not the pup knew it, seeking his brother out to find out what was happening was one of the ways that this was shown; as he then proved he recognised his older brother's rank.

At the moment Inuyasha was remiss and it was now Sesshoumaru's duty (and pleasure), to make sure that the errant pup remembered his place. He found his little brother without any difficulty and was ready to berate the boy for his tardiness and presumption, that Sesshoumaru no longer meant him harm. But the whelp had fallen asleep, his head resting on his arm; which was laying along the top edge of the well, while his ears were moving to catch any sound to alert Inuyasha to awaken. In repose, Inuyasha's face lost it's hard edges and Sesshoumaru was brought up sharply at how young his brother was.

The pup's face was soft and round with puphood still clinging to him; which was further emphasized by the huge golden eyes hidden at the moment, the sleep on Goshinboku had only suspended his ageing. In mild shock the Daiyoukai realised that actually in comparative terms, given the disparity of time in the development of human and youkai, Inuyasha was only figuratively about twice the age of Rin; even if the life he had lived placed him far beyond her in experience. It was even obvious that Inuyasha was not yet fully physically grown; still having to fill out from an adolescent boy's shape, to that of a full adult male, maybe he would even add a few more inches to his height.

It was neither guilt nor a twinge of sympathy for the sleeping boy that made Sesshoumaru leave him alone instead of rudely awakening him with a vicious slap of his whip, certainly not; the youkai would never indulge in such useless emotions, rather he didn't want his camp being disturbed by the noisy ramifications of such an action. Then he made sure that the perimeter around the well was also secure before beginning his patrols around the greater area of the village; purely for something to do and the fact that it would not do to encourage predators by thinking they could come and cause havoc anywhere near his protection zone.

For the following two days, the brothers cautiously ignored one another; Inuyasha amusing Sesshoumaru although he would never admit to the distraction, by jumping like a skittish colt if he turned to find the older brother silently behind him. Not that the youkai was giving into a form of 'play' with his younger brother, that would be a ridiculous notion; he was just showing his natural superiority and deadly potential over the hanyou. By the third day however just as Sesshoumaru predicted, Inuyasha started to get more jumpy and obviously quieter as he found himself alone.

The villagers although not wishing him harm were more concerned and uneasy when he was not with the others who they thought controlled him and they were more circumspect in his presence. Inuyasha pretended not to notice or mind the fear and lack of trust, but it was difficult and all in all he found that he would gravitate towards his brother's aura as he understood it would never take much for the crowd to become a mob; but there was no way they would attempt to go near or tackle Sesshoumaru.

Inuyasha never knew that Sesshoumaru understood all of this or even that the Daiyoukai knew him better than he did himself; so much so, that he had always been able to use his knowledge to undermine the hanyou at any time he wished.

That night as Sesshoumaru spotted his hanyou sibling hiding in the tree that he'd already picked out, he smirked; knowing that Inuyasha didn't really believe that his brother would save him from frightened villagers even if he was trying to hide in his aura. He also noticed smugly that the whelp was insecure, he was such a failure as a youkai; his human blood debasing his truer youkai inheritance, then he smiled again as he looked more closely at his brother's face intrigued by what he saw.

The boy was almost impossible to see, not that anyone was looking for him. Nobody would know to search for him even if they were aware of his existence and the only person who could recognise the child easily and immediately; couldn't care less about his hiding place, let alone him. The child though it was obvious, didn't realise he was hiding; nor that he was clearly to be seen by one who'd known him since he was born. In fact Sesshoumaru thought Inuyasha hardly looked any different to the six year old ragged urchin that he had rescued from being chained up like a dog; with just a bowl of rank water and scraps, outside the village where his mother had just died.

The memory angered him as he surreptitiously watched the hanyou from beneath his heavy eyelashes; yes the huge round eyes in that baby face which at the moment had no trace of the normal gruff mask he usually wore around everybody, was the same face, only the body had grown. But back then, the pup's claws were still too soft to free himself; his fangs only small points and his eyes bewildered at what was happening to him, a weak pathetic half youkai pup. Sesshoumaru's family honour however being at stake, required retribution and the village found out just what he thought of his half brother's treatment.

He found that the feeling of distaste he now had as he remembered how he had translated the anger towards the villagers into anger against the tiny pup, was most unpleasant; he would never treat the girl child that way. But it was definitely not guilt; he might own to a slight regret that he had not been more understanding of the boy when he had taken charge of him, but he had been younger and was not experienced in the ways of half youkai, half human creatures. Yes, acknowledging regret, was acceptable and soothed his slight disturbance and suited his measure of culpability.

He managed a slight chuckle when he thought back to his inexperience; he had not even realised how easily the hanyou pup bruised, until the marks of his hands were still visible days after the child had been punished for something or the other. Not that it had ever stopped him from repeating himself whenever he felt it was needed; although he forbid himself from dwelling on that for his own peace of mind, the image of Rin being so battered did not sit well with him, especially as he was seeing the golden eyed pup in her place for some strange reason. The sudden knowledge that neither would his august father have been happy with the cavalier and often brutal way that his eldest child had debased the younger.

A movement in the tree effectively put a stop to his dismal musings and he noticed Inuyasha settle down supposedly for the night. The Youkai knew that Inuyasha was puzzled by the girl that he had aquired; the boy had only seen her a couple of times, as normally the child was left in Jaken's charge whenever the Lord encountered his brother. Now all his charges were settled down, the Daiyoukai took the time that he enjoyed on his patrols; silent and contemplative he valued the time he had to himself without distraction and he was not worried that Inuyasha would harm the child while he was not around.

TBC