Title: Aisoku (Beloved Son)
Summary: I am the Daiyoukai. In the hierarchy of demon society, I sit at the peak. Demons fear my strength and many cower at my feet. However, there is one who can bring me to my knees with a single glance from those doe-like eyes … My son.
Pairings: None at the moment.
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.
Chapter two: Father and Son
"Ouji-sama!" A maid called out in frustration, running after the active child, "Ouji-sama, please! Lord Sesshoumaru will be very displeased if you forgo your lessons!"
Inuyasha ignored her, his feet carrying him swiftly across the castle. He glanced at her from over his shoulder, smirking slightly when he noticed the enormous distance between them.
"Ouji-sama, the master will punish you severely for not attending his lesson. He is already displeased."
Inuyasha snorted, "No one but my father can punish me."
"He will!" she cried out in anger, "Such mischief is beyond Lord Sesshoumaru's tolerance. Ouji-sama, please, I say this for your own well-being."
Inuyasha snorted once again and continued running until a servant suddenly appeared before him and tackled him to the ground.
It was a reckless decision. Inuyasha's head collided painfully against the hard floor and he let out a whimper. Both servants that were chasing after him went sickly pale, their eyes wide. The child closed his eyes tightly, a small cut bleeding enough to stain a small section of his pure white hair, red.
They both knelt beside the child, their hands trembling. "O…ouji-sama…" one shuttered, helping Inuyasha sit up, "Gomen nasai!" she whispered urgently as the child opened a single eye to glare at her.
"What is going on here?" A low, icy voice demanded and both the servants cringed, their eyes wide in horror. They turned quickly, bowing low to Sesshoumaru, "Gomen nasai, Sesshoumaru-sama! It was not our intention to hurt him."
The Daiyoukai narrowed his eyes before walking forward and kneeling before his son. Gently, he removed the small hand that was pressed against the wound to examine it. It was hardly anything worth mentioning and would certainly heal within an hour. Inuyasha looked irritated but not in pain. "You are fine, musuko."
"I know." He said with a frown.
Sesshoumaru turned towards the servants, "What happened here?"
The kept their eyes lowered and one of them spoke hesitantly, "Ouji-sama refused to attend the archery lesson, my lord. The master sent me to fetch him."
Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes, "That does not explain why he got the wound, servant."
The servant bowed deeply, "Tateo thought to help me and…" she glanced nervously at the man standing beside her with his head bowed.
"And?" The Daiyoukai scowled, "Make haste, woman."
She cringed, "He tackled Prince Inuyasha, my lord."
Sesshoumaru glanced sharply at the bowed man, "Have I not informed everyone in the staff that Inuyasha is not to be harmed?"
They cringed, "You have, my lord."
The Daiyoukai glanced at Inuyasha who was scowling at the blood on his hand, "This will be your last warning. Is that clear?"
"Hai, my lord." They replied together.
Sesshoumaru waved his hand in dismissal before narrowing his eyes on his son. "I am displeased. You have never disobeyed me and I did not expect you to start now."
Inuyasha crossed his arms, looking defiant, "I did not wish to displease you or disobey you, father."
"Then how do you explain your actions?" he asked as he walked towards his study. His son will be punished only in privacy.
Inuyasha stayed silent, even when they entered the study where they were alone, the child did not speak. Sesshoumaru knew that something was bothering his son. "You have been a diligent student so far. You have applied yourself and performed well so I do not see the need for this sudden rebelliousness."
Inuyasha did not speak and Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes, this time, his voice carrying a hint of his anger, "Musuko, do not test my patience. Would you like to be punished? Because the manner in which you are behaving warrants it."
"Gomen nasai, chichi-ue." Inuyasha whispered, his eyes closed tightly.
Sesshoumaru leaned back; Inuyasha did not feel guilty, that much was apparent from his scent. "You know that if you have an acceptable reason, I will not punish you."
Inuyasha shifted uncomfortably, "I do not like archery."
Sesshoumaru paused, looking at his son in slight disbelief. Inuyasha had expressed great excitement at the prospect of learning archery and he seemed to enjoy his lessons. "Is there a reason for that?"
The child bit his lower lip, looking uncertain, "Too much touching."
The Daiyoukai stilled, his sharp ears hearing the slight whisper clearly. "Would you care to repeat that?"
Inuyasha sighed and crossed his arms, knowing that his excuse sounded ridiculous and he would still be punished. "Master Kanae is too…" he scowled, "He is too touchy. I feel uncomfortable and then become stiff and unable to relax and then I am not able to aim properly and then I fail to hit the target and I…"
"Silence." Sesshoumaru commanded, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully. He was well aware of his son's aversion to touch. Only Sesshoumaru and his mother were able to touch Inuyasha without the boy feeling discomfort. However, Inuyasha was able to curb that instinct well so Sesshoumaru did not see any reason for this sudden complaint. Unless, of course, if the touch was inappropriate and unnecessary, and his son perceived that subconsciously.
He looked at the child intently, "You will attend the lesson."
Inuyasha slumped, looking resigned. "However," The young demon looked up at his father, a brow arched in question, "I will be watching your lesson discreetly. You will not inform Master Kanae of my presence and do your best to perform well in the lesson."
Inuyasha looked confused but he bowed in acceptance, "Hai, chichi-ue." The child ran out of the room, knowing his was already late while Sesshoumaru followed him at a sedate pace.
Sesshoumaru slipped into the shadows, concealing himself expertly as they reached the practice grounds. The demon who was teaching Inuyasha archery was old but his age did not reflect on his features. Light blue hair and aqua-green eyes with smooth unblemished skin, Master Kanae was often mistaken to be a young demon.
He had come highly recommended. An archery expert par excellence and Sesshoumaru only wanted the best for his son.
'But the best should not come at the price of Inuyasha's safety.' He thought to himself as he narrowed his eyes, observing the demon keenly. Kanae reprimanded his son for being late before starting the lesson. At the beginning, Sesshoumaru did not find any fault. The only touching that Kanae did was when he was guiding Inuyasha to correct his posture and his grasp on the bow.
His son did not look uneasy so Sesshoumaru assumed that this was not what was bothering Inuyasha.
For a long while, there was nothing out of the ordinary and Sesshoumaru was starting to feel a bit irritated. He knew Inuyasha did not lie to him but as far as he could see, there was nothing wrong.
Suddenly, Inuyasha tensed and Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes. Kanae had his hand on Inuyasha's shoulder and the touch looked casual; however, Sesshoumaru could see that it was a strong grip.
It was something that would certainly leave a bruise on Inuyasha's fair skin.
He scowled fiercely as he continued to observe. He watched as Inuyasha failed to hit the target and Kanae glared at his son, reprimanding him curtly with restrained anger in his voice.
Sesshoumaru raised a brow, leaning back against a wall. He suppressed the protective flare of his youkai with ease, knowing that now was not the time to reveal his presence to the archery master.
Inuyasha was not lying. Kanae was definitely touching Inuyasha more than necessary. In actuality, what made Inuyasha uncomfortable was the aura of pure hostility that the child could perceive but did not understand. That was probably why Inuyasha stated that Kanae's touches bothered him.
Much to Inuyasha's relief, the lesson got over soon. However, before Inuyasha could leave the demon's company, Kanae moved forward and grasped Inuyasha's chin harshly, "Pitiful." He sneered, "The heir to the Inu-youkai is so weak that it makes me laugh." Sesshoumaru stood straight, his eyes narrowed dangerously. "You were late today and your performance was pathetic."
Sesshoumaru smirked when a flare of defiance lit Inuyasha's eyes. His son worked hard and did his best but he did not take criticism lightly. In fact, he despised it when anyone tried to tell him he was wrong.
The Prince grasped the hand that was holding him hostage and twisted it to make Kanae release him. "I do not like you, Master Kanae." He said bluntly, his eyes narrowed icily, "You don't let me concentrate and you then criticize me. I will tell father to get me a new teacher." Inuyasha said arrogantly and Sesshoumaru's lips curved in amusement.
"Always running to your father, like a coward." Inuyasha stilled, "What will you do, Inuyasha-chan, when your father is not there to assist you?" An icy finger caressed his pale cheek, "What happens to you then? When your father is not there to protect you from the dangers that exist outside this castle?"
Sesshoumaru knew instantly that his presence was the only thing that kept Inuyasha calm in the situation. His son had been subjected to too much violence when he was in his mother's village and that was not something that faded away so soon.
"Nothing to say?" the older demon asked with an icy smirk while Inuyasha looked at him impassively. "Don't blame your incompetence on me, boy." He sneered, "You must respect and obey me or you will find yourself on the wrong side of my ire."
Inuyasha stepped back from the demon when his senses told him to run. Narrowing his eyes, he concentrated on the gentle caress of his father's protective aura to soothe his mind. The child kept his gaze locked with the older demon with great effort and frowned, "I still don't like you." He said before spinning on his heel and walking away.
The moment he was out of the demon's presence, Inuyasha ran. His pale skin looking nearly white and a bead of sweat traveling down his cheek because of his nervousness. The demonic aura of his archery master had been terrifying. Never had such a powerful demon focused his hostility on him.
While Inuyasha did not doubt that Sesshoumaru was far more powerful than the archery master was, but his father had never directed that hostile aura towards him.
He gasped as someone grabbed him from him, terrified. However, he soon relaxed as the familiar scent reached his nose.
"Good boy." Sesshoumaru murmured as he carried his son to his private chambers. "You will feel better soon." He said as he pressed his hand to the back of Inuyasha's head, letting his child nuzzle his neck, finding comfort in his scent.
Instinctively, Inuyasha curled into the embrace, his little hands clutching onto Sesshoumaru possessively. The Daiyoukai was pleased with the child's resilience; any other demon child would have panicked and reacted very badly to such hostility. "Chichi-ue, I don't like him."
"Worry not." Sesshoumaru said as he stepped into his chambers, sliding the door shut behind him, "You will never see him again."
"Why is he so mean?"
"You are the Prince of the West and will, in time, take over my position as the Daiyoukai." Sesshoumaru explained, concentrating on wrapping his scent like a comforting blanket around Inuyasha. "At this age, you, like all children, are fragile and it is a perfect time to target you and hope to weaken me."
Inuyasha's eyes widened, "Why would attacking me weaken you?"
Sesshoumaru sat down, his son sitting comfortably on his lap. He had to marvel at the short attention span of his boy. His mind was already off Master Kanae's stunt. "If a child is killed, the loss is very keen and can completely devastate both its youkai parents. The bond is very strong when the child is young, as you are." He looked down at Inuyasha thoughtfully, "If the parents have more children, the loss is less keen considering that their bond with their other children will still be strong. However, if the parents have only one child… the loss is nearly impossible to recover from."
Inuyasha bit his lip, looking a little more frightened though he hid it well. "Ne, chichi-ue, can't you break the bond?"
Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes and glanced at his son sharply, "Why would you ask such a ridiculous question?"
Inuyasha squirmed, "I don't want chichi-ue to get hurt."
Now Sesshoumaru was amused. He had never been so entertained by just one little being.
Inuyasha was so unguarded against him that Sesshoumaru was certain that Inuyasha viewed him with nothing but utmost adoration. There was such innocence in his devotion, in his eyes and his actions that the mere presence of his child felt like pleasant spring breeze.
"Can't chichi-ue teach me archery? I bet chichi-ue is good at that! Chichi-ue is good at everything!"
Oh, Sesshoumaru was definitely amused. "And your chichi-ue has many things to do other than attending to the whims of his little prince."
Inuyasha pouted spectacularly and Sesshoumaru actually had to suppress the chuckle that threatened to escape his lips. It must be a talent all little ones were born with, the ability to delight even the sternest of parents. His child even had the audacity to glare petulantly at him and many a men had died for lesser offences. However, Sesshoumaru's ire did not rise. All he could feel was humor as he indulged the child who was being spoiled by adoring servants and teachers in a rather speedy fashion.
In a castle that hadn't seen a child for centuries, Inuyasha's mischievous presence was more than welcome.
"Obaa-sama says that all whims of princes must be catered to." Inuyasha said with narrowed eyes. "Obaa-sama says that I am blessed by the crimson moon and therefore I am a special prince."
"Does she now?" Sesshoumaru asked indulgently, leaning back against the headboard. "And what other lies has she whispered into your ears? They are making your head swell in the most unsightly manner."
Inuyasha's hands flew to his head, his eyes wide. Sesshoumaru chuckled under his breath. "Chichi-ue is mean! I am not unsightly."
Sesshoumaru tapped his son's nose in slight reprimand, "You must not raise your voice against me, musuko. It shows disrespect." He observed those childish features, seeing the traces of himself upon that innocent face. "Yes, you are indeed blessed by the crimson moon. The greatest warriors of our clan are born with such a blessing bestowed upon them. However," there was a hint of warning in his voice, "Even the most excellent of all swords will dull if they are not tended to and sharpened regularly. Consider yourself to be a sword of the finest make, created to guard our lands and protect those who dwell upon it. Following the instructions of your tutors, you must sharpen this young blade. With dedication and perseverance, you must hone your skills and cultivate your mind and then you will become a warrior worthy of praise and respect."
"Then I shall become a Daiyoukai?" Inuyasha questioned in a whisper.
Sesshoumaru nodded, "You will be a Daiyoukai regardless of what you do. However, to be a good Daiyoukai, you must work hard. The obedience and respect of your subjects will come when they know you to be a good ruler."
"Just like chichi-ue?" He asked, excited at the prospect. "Then I shall have everyone bow to me and never look at me in the eye and treat me with utmost respect! No one will dare to hit me with sticks then! If they do, I will have them thrown to the gallows!"
Sesshoumaru raised a brow, "How well your arrogance has been nurtured and cultivated by your reckless minders." He frowned when he saw small bruises formed on his son's chin. "We must discuss in depth about these men you speak of, these ningen who have taken sticks to you so often that you cannot forget it."
Inuyasha winced, rubbing his arm once again and Sesshoumaru noted that his son shielded the same arm every time he felt insecure. Was there something deeper behind that gesture?
"Well?" he asked with a raised brow, ensuring that his youki was wrapped protectively around his child so that Inuyasha did not feel vulnerable.
"I told you already!" he whined, unwilling to discuss it again.
Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes, "I have warned you once and I will not do so again. You will never raise your voice against me, is that understood, Inuyasha?"
The younger boy recoiled immediately, looking contrite, "Gomen nasai, chichi-ue."
The Daiyoukai narrowed his eyes but he decided that his child had too much drama for one day. He searched his mind for something that would completely distract Inuyasha from unpleasant thoughts. While Sesshoumaru did have certain matters to address, he couldn't leave the pup when his own youkai was feeling so protective. He would not get any work done if he did. Observing the child thoughtfully, he decided that it was high time Inuyasha was introduced to his father's true form.
"Hmm." He murmured to himself and stood, inciting a startled squeak from his son, "I do have something in mind that would doubtlessly brighten your day." There was a faint smirk on his lips when Inuyasha turned to look at him, his bright amber eyes curious.
He walked out of the room, briefly giving Jaken some instructions before he swiftly exited the castle. "Ne, chichi-ue, where are we going?" Inuyasha asked curiously, resting his head on his father's shoulder since the older demon refused to let him walk on his own. Inuyasha understood why when his father took off in the air, moving at speeds that Inuyasha couldn't hope to match.
"Be patient." Sesshoumaru commanded.
The child fell silent at the command, his tiny hand fisted in Sesshoumaru's mokomoko-sama's soft fur. He looked down, his eyes widening in fear when he saw how high they were and how fast they were traveling. He whimpered and pressed his face against the fur, unwilling to take another glimpse.
"Worry not." Sesshoumaru murmured smoothly, "I will not drop you. You are safe in my arms so do not squirm so lest I lose my grip." Inuyasha stilled completely, another whimper of fear escaping him while Sesshoumaru's mouth curved into a smirk. It was amusing to see his son so frightened over such a trivial matter. Sesshoumaru had mastered flying just as well as he had mastered all his skills and his hold was like a band of iron that even some of the strongest demons could not hope to escape it. A child's feeble squirming would definitely not cause him to lose his grip.
Besides, Inuyasha would soon learn that particular skill himself and being frightened of heights would only hinder him. He chuckled under his breath when he found that his little prince had managed to squirm underneath the mokomoko-sama completely, hiding himself from view. His white clothing helped him in that respect. Smirking in faint amusement, he let his tail cover the boy completely, indulging him.
It was not until Sesshoumaru was standing on solid ground and not moving that his little pup emerged from his hiding place, peaking at him with wide eyes. His tail moved, removing the child from his arms and placing him gently on the ground. Inuyasha laughed when the fur of the appendage tickled him.
"Where are we?" Inuyasha asked, looking around. It was a vast plain, so big that he could barely see the edges of it.
"We are still in the Western Lands." Sesshoumaru informed, "But quite a distance away from home. This is a place where we are least likely to encounter anything that would disturb us." Inuyasha titled his head to the side in question and Sesshoumaru gestured, "Sit down and listen carefully to what I have to say."
The boy complied and sat down, looking a little confused and startled when Sesshoumaru sat down on the ground as well. "Have any of your tutors explained to you about the differences between ningen and youkai?"
Inuyasha frowned and shook his head. He did learn a lot about youkai customs and rules but nothing about ningen.
"Hmm." Sesshoumaru murmured thoughtfully, "Very well." Keen amber eyes closed for a moment as the Daiyoukai gathered his thoughts. "Ningen and Youkai are two very different beings. However, in ways, we are very much alike. Both species are intelligent and capable of speech, of writing and reading and of invention. We share many similar physical attributes as well. Of course, there is an exception in the form of lowest class of demons. Those are the ones who are purely violent and often prey on humans."
Inuyasha nodded in understanding, remembering those ugly looking things that had pursued him. They were not capable of speech so they must have been low class demons. "However, no one can deny that demons are superior to humans, even the lowest amongst us are far stronger to them when it comes to pure physical strength." Sesshoumaru leveled a look of warning at Inuyasha, "Nevertheless, you must not forget that they are cunning creatures that are quite capable of creating sly traps. You must be cautious when you are dealing with them. Especially the ones who possess spiritual power."
"I understand, chichi-ue."
"Good." Sesshoumaru nodded, "As I said, demons are superior to humans when it comes to physical strength. However, demons of our stature, those who possess royal blood can surpass even those humans who possess great spiritual strength. Our youki is powerful, powerful enough to overcome any spiritual attack from a ningen monk or priestess. Moreover, we are gifted with several other abilities." To demonstrate, Sesshoumaru drew his hand back and cracked his knuckles, releasing a long glowing whip of pure energy.
"Sugoi." Inuyasha whispered in awe, reaching forward to touch the whip.
Sesshoumaru hissed and drew back, "Be still you fool." He snapped, narrowing his eyes, "Did I give you permission to touch it?" he asked dangerously.
Inuyasha froze, his eyes going wide in apprehension. The Daiyoukai calmly drew his whip back, scowling at his son in reprimand, "You must not touch it. It will blister your skin and I assure you, that will be quite painful."
The child nodded, looking calmer. "You will be able to perform this particular skill. It is not too difficult to summon the whip but it takes a lot of time and effort to master it. However, some other skills will come to you naturally and easily. Flying, for example, shouldn't take long to master."
He observed Inuyasha for a while, "You are far too young to be learning the whip. It will be very dangerous for you. You will not be learning how to summon poison to your claws until you develop immunity to all poisons." He narrowed his eyes, "That should happen by the time you are about thirty years old."
Inuyasha pouted, thirty was a long time away.
Sesshoumaru looked amused for a moment before he continued the lesson. "One key difference between youkai and ningen is our ability to transform." He looked at Inuyasha intently, "We are called the Inu-youkai for a reason. I will transform soon so that you know what it is like. My true form can be frightening but you must understand that it will never harm you. When I am at such a state, my instincts often take precedence over rationality. It is very unlikely that anything, including me, will ever harm you when I am in my true form." Inuyasha nodded, his eyes wide. "However, as my son, you must show completely obedience to me or my youkai will punish you. You must follow my every command down to the very letter."
Inuyasha nodded again and Sesshoumaru stepped a few paces away from his apprehensive child, letting his youkai surge to the surface. Instantly, his eyes turned red, the demon markings on the sides of his face widening as his power visibly rose. The ground under his feet cracked at the sheer strength of his aura. The Daiyoukai took one last look at his son before closing his eyes and letting his power loose.
Inuyasha whimpered, scrambling back as his father's features shifted. It felt like hours before a large, menacing form stood before him. He looked up with wide, frightened eyes, taking in the massive demon in front of him. Those red eyes were not comforting at all. They did not show the wisdom and intelligence that his father possessed. They were wild, untamed and completely feral.
'B...big… teeth…' his mind whispered he gaped at those menacing looking fangs, gulping at the sight of the green acid dripping from the demon's maw.
Suddenly, he felt his eyes water, "Chichi-ue, please come back!" he called out, absolutely terrified. He placed his hands protectively on his head, "Please, please, chichi-ue…" he trembled, a sob escaping him.
A low, soothing growl caught his attention as a huff of warm breath ruffled his hair. He looked up, his skin pale with terror. A wet snout tapped him in his chest, another low growl landing comfortingly on his ears.
Hesitantly, a little hand reached out, hovering uncertainly in the air. The large demon nudged his hand and Inuyasha smiled tentatively, caressing the silky fur. His eyes widened in awe as he gazed into his father's crimson eyes, suddenly feeling nothing but security and peace. In this form, his father seemed so powerful that Inuyasha felt that nothing in this world would ever touch him.
His father wouldn't allow it.
"Chichi-ue?" he asked uncertainly but the demon in front of him growled in approval and Inuyasha got a bit more adventurous, rubbing his father's snout with his hand, tracing the crescent moon on his forehead. "Sugoi!"
A low rumble coming from the demon startled him until he understood that his father was amused. His eyes brightened and he enthusiastically inspected Sesshoumaru's true form, "Chichi-ue is so amazing!" he exclaimed, his little fingers refusing to stay still as he explored, caressing the silk like fur. He wondered whether he would be able to transform like that as well.
Suddenly, Sesshoumaru nudged him harder than necessary, making Inuyasha fall onto his back. The Daiyoukai pressed his nose against his son, sniffing him to ensure that his pup was in good health and no longer afraid of him. Inuyasha squirmed, giggles erupting from his mouth as he face flushed in excitement. "That tickles!" he exclaimed and tried to escape but the older demon held him still, an amused snort ruffling his clothes.
"Ewww!" Inuyasha exclaimed as a large, sandpaper-like tongue groomed him. "Stoooop it!" he whined, unable to stop the helpless giggles that escaped him. The large demon bared his teeth at the squirming child and somehow, those fangs didn't seem so scary anymore.
Suddenly, Sesshoumaru flinched back, an enraged growl escaping him. Inuyasha yelped when someone grabbed him and ran from his distracted father. The Daiyoukai was trying to deal with the abrupt pain of a heavy stone hitting him right underneath his eye.
It took a few moments for Inuyasha to understand what had happened and he started struggling in the unknown grasp. "Let me go!" he demanded as loudly as he could, his wide eyes watching as the enormous form of his father become more and more distant. Whoever had kidnapped him was fast. He continued his struggle, knowing that his movements would slow the unknown person down.
"Stop it!" his captor hissed in urgency, "That demon was trying to eat you! Don't you know anything! Big demons eat pups like you!" A youthful voice stated.
Inuyasha blinked, recalling the time when his father too had warned him that very big demons were likely eat little ones. "Bakaaa!" he yelled as he felt the earth shake. His father was running towards them, no doubt very angry. "Chichi-ue would not eat me!" he said incredulously. Why would his own father eat him?
The other person stopped abruptly, looking down at Inuyasha. It was the first glimpse that the Prince of West had of his captor and he was surprised to see wide blue eyes and pointed ears. 'How dare he call me pup?' he thought angrily.
"That was your father?" The other demon asked, "Why the hell didn't you tell me that in the first place mutt!"
Inuyasha turned red in anger, "You did not ask!" he said loudly, freeing himself from the demon's grasp and glaring at him with piercing amber eyes, "You just took me away! Just you wait, chichi-ue will be so angry." He crossed his arms, "And don't call me mutt, baka!"
"I ain't a baka!" the other demon child growled.
"Yes you are!"
"No I ain't!"
"Yes you are!"
"No I ai…"
A loud, enraged growl stopped their argument and suddenly Inuyasha was lifted up in the air. He yelped when he noticed that his father's teeth were gently holding onto the back of his haori.
The large Inu-youkai directed his crimson glare at the other demon, baring his fangs in a fierce snarl. Sesshoumaru's tail caught Inuyasha and placed him on his back so that he could concentrate fully on the fool who dared to touch his pup.
The other demon gulped and stepped back, "Nice doggie…" he whimpered, taking another step back.
Inuyasha slapped his hands on his mouth to stop a giggle. He resisted the urge to stick his tongue out at the other boy knowing that he was a prince and such actions were unbecoming of him.
Suddenly, Sesshoumaru paused, taking a tentative sniff of the culprit before him. Crimson eyes flashed and he drew all his power in, caging his true form once again. Inuyasha yelped as he found himself falling from a great height when his father disappeared. His eyes widened in fear but familiar arms caught him long before he could come anywhere close to touching the ground.
The Daiyoukai stood silently for a moment, his arms retaining their possessive grip on his child as he looked at the young boy in front of him. "Wolf Prince Kouga." He murmured, narrowing his eyes, "You are far away from your tribe."
Kouga gulped, recognizing the tall, elegant demon as someone very powerful. However, he was a prince; the other demon wouldn't dare to harm him unless he wanted to suffer punishment at the hands of his parents. "You have not yet reached your maturity, why are you away from your parents?" Sesshoumaru asked, looking down at the young man with the expression Inuyasha was used to seeing, reprimanding but not meant to discomfit or scare. It was an expression his father used only on him and did not like Kouga getting it.
His fingers fisted in his father's haori possessively and he glared at the other demon. He will not let anyone take his chichi-ue away from him.
Kouga crossed his arms in defiance but there was a slight flicker of uncertainty in his eyes, "I just got separated from my friends. We were hunting together."
Sesshoumaru raised a brow, "And you thought of my son as a suitable prey?" he asked icily, a slightly crimson light entering his eyes. His youkai was still stirring underneath the surface, ready to tear the insolent fool part.
The boy was young, about fifty or so years older than his son was. He was of the age when young boys thought the entire world was their playground. Rebellious and uncouth, he was the very picture of youthful arrogance. Sesshoumaru knew that he would never allow his son to be like the demon standing before him.
"No." Kouga scowled, "I thought you were attacking him." He looked at Inuyasha, "I can see that the mutt looks a lot like you, so I made a mistake."
"Do not call me that!" Inuyasha snapped but quickly silenced himself when Sesshoumaru glanced at him sharply.
Kouga scoffed, "Don't talk when adults are speaking, you little shit."
Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes, "Refrain from using such language in front of my son." He commanded, looking down at Kouga in slight disdain, "And you are too young to be considered an adult."
The Daiyoukai turned away from the wolf demon and started walking towards the castle, "Come." He commanded, glancing at Kouga from over his shoulder, "I will not allow the Prince of Wolves be lost in the wilderness if I can help it. We shall go to my home and I will contact your parents and search for those who accompanied you on this hunting excursion." His lips curled into a displeased frown, "They should be punished for losing sight of you."
"Hey! I can take care of myself! Who the hell do you think you are, ordering me about like that?" Kouga exclaimed as he followed Sesshoumaru.
Inuyasha bristled in the Daiyoukai's arms; no one was allowed to talk to his father so disrespectfully. "Do not speak to him in such a manner!" Inuyasha snapped and Sesshoumaru looked down at his son, a brow raised in amusement. It was all too easy to recognize the jealous protectiveness in Inuyasha's eyes.
"Didn't you hear, mutt-face." Kouga replied with a smug smirk, "I am the Prince of Wolves! I can speak however I want to speak and you can't say anything about it!"
Inuyasha scoffed, "You do not sound like a Prince, speaking in such a crass manner." He stated loftily, narrowing his brilliant eyes, "You are in the Western Lands and as you are the Prince of your people, you must take care not to offend the people of the lands which do not belong to you. You represent your clan here and your actions can reflect badly on your people." He seemed to be reciting something he had learned from his tutors as he gazed at Kouga with a frown, "You want others to think that the wolf tribe consists of uncouth, uneducated ruffians?"
Sesshoumaru's eyes lightened in humor, his lips curling into smirk that was hidden from the two quarrelling boys. Kouga's indignant sputters only added to his mirth. Inuyasha had inherited his vicious tongue, it seemed.
"It would serve you well to heed to my son's advice, Prince Kouga." Sesshoumaru's voice was silky-smooth, devoid of any feelings. "It would also serve you well to take care not to offend him." He glanced at Kouga, his long fingers combing through Inuyasha hair to sooth his jealous feelings, "He also happens to be a prince… he is the Prince of the West."
Kouga faltered, his eyes going wide. He paled suddenly when he connected the dots, "Sesshoumaru of the West."
The Daiyoukai dipped his head in acknowledgement and Kouga paled further, 'Gods, please tell me I did not just offend the Daiyoukai of the Western Lands. Oh Lord, father will have my head for this!'
Once he understood that Kouga was following him obediently, he turned his attention towards a sulking Inuyasha. This was not the first time ever since Inuyasha was discovered that he showed his insecurity. Sesshoumaru had tolerated Inuyasha's need to be in his presence constantly because he considered it natural for a demon child his age. Especially since Inuyasha had never known his father before.
This, however, was a different situation. He had thought that Inuyasha was coping remarkably well with the sudden changes in his life. He adjusted quickly, his tutors, with the exception of Kanae, were pleased with his performance. The servants dotted on him and his mother was indulging his every whim, showering affection on her beloved grandson liberally.
Inuyasha's insecurity was something that even his mother had noticed. She had told him that he felt abandoned, which was only natural considering that he was not able to bond with Sesshoumaru as he had bonded with Izayoi when he was born. Moreover, he had just found out that his mother deliberately kept him away from his father and it must have had some effect on the child.
Narrowing his eyes, he turned his head a little, taking in his son's scent. Sure enough, there was an underlying sense of unease in him. The child still had very little understanding of Sesshoumaru's role as his father. He did not understand that no one could ever take his place. No random child picked up by Sesshoumaru would ever come close to being his son and unless he mated and sired another child, he would claim no other pup as his own.
Mating was out of question therefore Inuyasha would never have a rival for his attention.
The Daiyoukai paused thoughtfully; they could not fly back to the castle. Sesshoumaru could carry Kouga and Inuyasha with him but he was disinclined to touch Kouga. To an Inu-youkai, scent was an important factor. If Sesshoumaru had Kouga's scent on him, it would bother Inuyasha.
He looked at the sky and let out a long, sharp whistle, startling both Inuyasha and Kouga. "I have summoned Ah-Un." Sesshoumaru explained to Inuyasha, "He will carry the wolf back to the castle and you can come with me."
Inuyasha nodded, narrowing his eyes on Kouga before turning away with a huff, resting his head on Sesshoumaru's shoulder.
It wasn't long before Ah-Un landed before them. Sesshoumaru gestured Kouga to climb the beast while the animal greeted Inuyasha, naturally fond of his master's child. Inuyasha indulged the loyal creature by petting it as Sesshoumaru saw to it that Kouga was sitting securely on the saddle.
"Head for the castle." Sesshoumaru addressed to the beast before looking at Kouga, "Ah-Un is very reliable and will carry you safely to the castle. Do not agitate it."
Kouga nodded hesitantly, bracing himself as the beast rose into the air. Sesshoumaru stayed unmoving as Ah-Un ascended and disappeared from sight.
It was only then did his son relax. Sesshoumaru looked down at Inuyasha with a slight frown, disliking the manner in which the pup avoided looking at him. His skin was pale and his eyes shadowed. It was such a contrast to his earlier mood when Inuyasha had been flushed with excitement and bright eyed as he marveled Sesshoumaru's true form.
"You have become very wise, musuko." He murmured, knowing very well how to distract his son. Inuyasha looked up at him in confusion. "It was most amusing to see you teach a prince who is decades older to you how to truly carry out his diplomatic duties."
Instantly, Inuyasha was distracted. His eyes brightened, "The wolf was being impolite. Surely, Sayaka-sensei would spank him for cursing! She says that it is unbecoming of a prince to curse or be impolite." He tilted his head to the side, "Ne, how come he speaks so boldly?"
Sesshoumaru rose into the air as well, flying towards their home in a leisurely fashion. "Firstly," the Daiyoukai murmured, smirking faintly, "While Lady Sayaka is very likely to spank a child such as him, she happens to be your sensei and not his. Since you are behaving yourself, I do not assume that she will be bending you over her knee anytime soon." Inuyasha nodded, already seeming less apprehensive about flying. "As for the manner in which Prince Kouga speaks, his arrogance allows him to behave so foolishly. You must remember this, Inuyasha. Never allow anyone to question your upbringing, never allow anyone to think of our clan in a less than favorable manner. It is your duty to uphold the honor of our clan and that of our kingdom."
Inuyasha nodded solemnly for a moment before frowning, "Father…" he hesitated for a moment and Sesshoumaru looked down at Inuyasha with a raised brow. "I am your only son, aren't I? Without a doubt?"
Sesshoumaru nodded, "Yes. Without a single shred of doubt."
"You will be my father forever and ever, won't you? Even if I were weak and incompetent?"
'Ah.' Sesshoumaru thought in realization, 'It would seem Kanae's words had a greater impact on him than I imagined.' He paused thoughtfully for a moment, knowing that the matter should be handled delicately.
"Tell me, musuko, would you have anyone else rather than me as your father?"
Inuyasha's eyes widened in surprise and he looked up at Sesshoumaru, "Why ask?" he asked, his voice soft and uncertain.
The Daiyoukai traced the crescent moon on Inuyasha's forehead thoughtfully, "As a father, I may not be what you desire. I may be sterner than what you wish for or less affectionate than most. I may not tolerate misbehavior in the slightest and I may very well give you some harsh punishments if you disobey me. When such a time arrives when you are being punished or you wish for a more affectionate parent, you may dislike me." Inuyasha frowned, "Would you replace me with someone else, then?" Sesshoumaru asked with a raised brow.
Inuyasha shook his head forcefully, "Iie, Chichi-ue is chichi-ue!"
"Precisely." Sesshoumaru murmured, satisfied with the answer. "There maybe times when you would displease me. There maybe times when you would not perform in your duties as well as you are capable of, times when you would disobey me. There maybe instances when you may fail in a task I ask you to do and that would disappoint me. However, musuko will still be musuko." He assured, "No matter how many times you commit mistakes, I wish for you to try your best and excel because I know you are capable of it. You are my son and there is nothing out of your reach. Do not let anyone, much less a scheming demon; tell you that you are weak or incompetent."
"Truly?" Inuyasha asked softly, "You are not angry with me for not performing well in archery lessons?"
"Inuyasha," Sesshoumaru's voice took on a slightly exasperated tone, "My pup, why must you dwell on such trivial matters? You now very well that that was not your fault and I would never be angry with you if you are faultless." He caressed the fading bruises on Inuyasha's chin, "If I am angry, it is because someone dared to touch you with the intention to harm. Do not concern yourself over this."
Inuyasha fell silent for a while and Sesshoumaru increased his speed, considering the matter resolved for a moment.
Suddenly, Inuyasha giggled.
The Daiyoukai looked down at the flushed face and sparkling eyes with a questioning look, "You find something amusing, musuko?"
Inuyasha shook his head, "Ne, will you let big chichi-ue come out and play with me again sometime?"
Sesshoumaru's brow arched in surprise, "Big chichi-ue?" he asked skeptically.
Inuyasha nodded excitedly, "Yes! Since he is chichi-ue as well but he is so big." His spread his arms to imply the size, "And normal chichi-ue is so little." He brought his thumb and a finger together, "So I decided to call him big chichi-ue and he is so much fun! Even though his tongue feels weird and I don't like it when it is licking me but the rest was so brilliant!"
Sesshoumaru decided not to feel offended by that and he looked down at his son, his eyes flashing in amusement, "I thought you were frightened of my true form."
"No," Inuyasha waved dismissively, "Little chichi-ue is much scarier than big chichi-ue. Big chichi-ue is like a giant puppy!"
Sesshoumaru wisely decided not to mention this particular conversation to his mother. She would never let him forget it.