Disclaimer: Not mine.

He strives against him, dislikes him, fights to surpass him, and wants to be him. It's not as though he can help it.

"What was my father like?"

It's something every fatherless boy wonders at one point, and she has little to offer him. His father was good and kind, and so very strong. It's all little more than passing shadows, barely-glimpsed memories of a warm embrace, a shared gaze, and whispers in the night. What was the boy's father like, indeed? Her arms still remember him as do her eyes when the tears come, not so very often now. Words, she offers him, words of praise and love, and the fatherless boy is enchanted and dissatisfied, little puppy ears twitching in a mass of soft white hair.

Sesshomaru came to her one day when she was still in mourning white, his own apparel and demeanor hardly changed. His clothes were as white, his face as blank, as though he had lived in indifferent grief all his life.

"You will depart for your father's court before the turning of the moon. With your whelp," he added as an afterthought.

Her late husband's son is wolf and dog, there was no impropriety in the word to him. No discourtesy at all, except in his short pauses and in his eyes.

And she was sorry, sorry that they were a liability to him, sorry that there were too many ambitious relatives, in-laws, and retainers who would be only too glad to rule in Inuyasha's name. Angry that Sesshomaru did not hate her or even dislike her, would consider any emotional effort wasted on her or her son. How much emotion would she feel for or against the insect that fluttered against her window?

He sent her off with a contingent of guards and did not see her off. Borne in a luxurious litter with a squirming Inuyasha in her arms, she reflected that she really had nothing to complain about in Sesshomaru's treatment then or ever. Nothing except the cold distance, the politely veiled scorn.

It was deep within the woods that ambush came, sent by some kinsman or another of the Inu no Taisho who would have assigned himself Inuyasha's uninvited guardian. Urged by her guardsmen to run she was struggling out of the litter when Lord Sesshomaru seemingly materialized out of the shadows between the ancient pines.

Instantly the tide of battle turned, Sesshomaru's arms red to the elbow by the time it was done. Inuyasha watched through frightened tears, which he instantly blinked away at a fleeting amber glance. Inuyasha could not take his awed eyes off the white demon until he gave a few curt orders and melted out of sight. She saw the fear and adoration there in her little boy's eyes, and despaired.

Small children, faced with a deprivation they cannot understand, will sometimes make up a fantasy they inhabit all too willingly. So it is with her son. Once he found out about those mysterious and benevolent beings known as "fathers," hardly a day passes by without little Inuyasha informing his mother that his father is coming for him today.

She tries everything--distraction, persuasion, even whipping--but the fantasy creeps back again and again with the fierce strength of desperation. What else has he to cling to, after all, a child shunned and scorned in his own grandfather's court, their presence just barely tolerated? Some days it's hard to hold back the tears, listening to Inuyasha speak in his child's babble of how big and strong and kind his father is.

One day out in the gardens, just the two of them because she has had her fill of the gossip and the surreptitious glances, Inuyasha goes very still in the middle of a butterfly chase to lift his little nose in the air and take an anticipatory sniff. A small wild animal, she thinks, or perhaps a cat, but Inuyasha's face brightens as he spins to face the little bridge over the stream.


And her heart leaps painfully, as if she too were caught up in Inuyasha's daydreams, that her lord would return and they could be a family again... Then she sees Inuyasha tearing towards the stream and the gleaming white figure crossing it, and the brief mad spell is over.

"Inuyasha! Wait!"

With a joyful yelp Inuyasha launches himself at the white youkai, only to go sprawling from an absent-minded swat. It is not quite a strike, which Inuyasha--she knows with the certainty of terror--would not have survived, but more of a gentle tap as might be given to any rambunctious pup.

,With a cry, she rushes the rest of the way to Inuyasha while the child sits up, slightly stunned. His golden gaze is fixed a few paces beyond her on Sesshomaru.

"I trust you are well." Sesshomaru is imperious, controlled, entirely dismissive as always. His father was never so cold or haughty--and yet so like they are, the sheer presence and power coiled within that beautiful form, that her heart aches in remembrance. Inuyasha is entirely transfixed as Sesshomaru asks her something about a sword which she cares nothing of. She answers as politely as she can, wanting him out of the garden, out of her life.

Wanting Inuyasha to stop staring openmouthed at his brother, committing every feature, every gesture to memory.

When the Inu no Taisho's son nods curtly at her brief, strained answers and leaves, silent as a white shadow, Inuyasha looks silently to her. She strokes his white hair, trying to smile.

"That was Sesshomaru-sama, your brother."

Inuyasha nods quietly. "He's not very kind."

"He is a very great lord, and very powerful." Her throat tightens with fear as she tries to give him warning without turning him from his kin. She takes her hands from him, afraid that he will feel her tremors. Her husband's son wants Tessaiga, the sword that was promised to Inuyasha. Find it and keep it, she hopes fervently, but let him be!

Inuyasha stands, dusts himself off, and plays quietly by himself the rest of the afternoon. He does not tell her again that his father is coming for him. Sometimes he would sit by the stream, watching the bridge as though waiting. She never sees Sesshomaru again in her life.

So what was the boy's father like? His mother's answers are flowers in the wind, warm rain on a rooftop. He listens, and is dissatisfied.

He really only has one template to build his own answer. He has the awe and fear pooling in his stomach at unfathomable power, the amber eyes that barely even glanced his way, a painful tumble in the dirt, the taste of grit in his mouth. He has seen what he must overcome. He will strive against that vision, dislike him, fight to surpass him, and want with all the strength of shadowed and half-glimpsed dreams to be him. It's not as though he can help it.