Disclaimer: The characters of InuYasha are not mine, they are property of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Yomiuri TV, Sunrise, and Viz. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

A/N So…note the pig flying outside your window? Yup. That's what happens when I update this sucker. As most of you know – but not all, or I wouldn't mention this – my health kicked my ass for months and months now. Before that? I pretty much let things go. I admit it. Bad, Twisted. But, health is slowly and carefully trying to make it's way back, so the fiction is as well. Slow, but it's coming. Quality editing may be suffering a bit in favor of speed, but I figure the speed has suffered for quite long enough. :-(

I want to say thank you to everyone who was reading, left comments and encouragement over the last couple years. Apologies to all those who waited in vain when I had plans to update the chapter and failed miserably. I'll do what I can to avoid that again.

Also, for those interested in my Inuyasha fiction, I keep most of it up at AFF dot net, in the Inuyasha section, naturally, under my same name: TwistedHilarity.

Take care!

WARNING- This chapter MAY contain: angst, fluff, foul language, Male/Male, anal sex, oral sex, non-consensual sexual acts, spanking, incest, or violence.

Ch. 32 - Sorry

Sitting outside near the fire Kagome had started, Miroku watched Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru. Inuyasha ate ramen with almost his usual gusto, and Sesshoumaru stared at the cup in his brother's hands with what looked like his habitual disinterest. Except few minutes, Miroku caught the daiyoukai's nose twitching as though he were catching a scent. His eyes would sharpen and Miroku wondered, not for the first time, exactly how disinterested Sesshoumaru really was.

Those cold, golden eyes followed every movement of Inuyasha's hand. He didn't even turn when Sango berated Shippou for trying to steal the last snack from her hand. Everything was focused on what Inuyasha was doing. Scooping up the noodles from the small cup, tossing an enormous wad of ramen into his mouth, licking his fingers off one after another. Inuyasha 'mmm'd' happily as he ate another bite and Miroku almost thought he caught another sound.

Had Sesshoumaru just growled? Or was that a groan?

It drove Miroku mad that he didn't know what was going on between the two. He'd hoped for the best, as unlikely as that seemed. Sesshoumaru's behavior had changed; he seemed truly protective of Inuyasha at present. If the two could move past what had happened, they might even find something worthwhile to share with each other.

And if not that, then at least peace. Inuyasha deserved some peace in his life. And pleasurable sex; a male couldn't truly have peace without that. Miroku had been hoping, based on his friend's response to Sesshoumaru, that things had been heading in the right direction.

But there was something different to the couple since they'd returned. Whatever depths Sesshoumaru possessed were closer to the surface today. Either that or Miroku was learning to read him, but since he'd hardly seen either male since Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha had mated, that seemed unlikely.

Perhaps it was more that Sesshoumaru was…slipping. His emotions, and there did seem to be at least a few, were seeping to the surface. Right now, they were nearly as noticeable as his anger typically was. Whatever had happened while the two were away from camp had definitely changed something.

If only he knew what it was! Perhaps he could get Inuyasha alone to speak with him for a few minutes…. Miroku glanced at Sesshoumaru and froze as he met the daiyoukai's gaze directly. It speared him in the chest even as he smiled blandly back.

Then again, perhaps he could help Inuyasha from within the group.

Miroku looked him over carefully. Still on edge, Inuyasha was, nonetheless, improved. His body seemed more like a coiled whip than a bowstring about to snap. He wasn't happy – that much was obvious – but this was better than before.

Miroku snuck another glance at Sesshoumaru and caught him staring at Inuyasha again. A flicker of worry passed over Sesshoumaru's face before it settled back into stillness. For both men, then, something had improved.

Had it improved enough?

"Miroku?" Sango kept her voice quiet.

"It's nothing. I was simply contemplating the state of things," he murmured back.

Inuyasha heard him and looked over. His eyes were pained; Miroku wondered what he saw. Was it the fact that Sango was sitting closer than she usually did? Inuyasha caught so many details, he was sure to notice. Perhaps it was a bit soon for him to see someone else in a romantic situation. After everything that he'd lost recently, it might be painfully difficult. Miroku shifted, wondering if he should scoot away for Inuyasha's sake, and the hanyou graced him with an approving grin for the two of them.

It had Miroku swallow painfully. Every time he thought he had Inuyasha figured out – stubborn, childish, brash, terribly vulnerable – he managed to surprise him. Miroku should be the one comforting him, not the other way around. All they'd been through, and Inuyasha still managed to put aside his pain, emerge from the brittle shell around himself, and share a moment with Miroku.

"I think Inuyasha just gave his approval." He hadn't meant to say it out loud, and was grateful it was low enough that Sango didn't notice.

Inuyasha smirked just as Sesshoumaru looked up at the use of his mate's name. The daiyoukai's eyes narrowed once before he turned to look at Inuyasha. Miroku found himself holding his breath until Sesshoumaru found whatever it was he was looking for and resumed watching Rin play with Shippou in the grass nearby.

He had a feeling that if Inuyasha was caused any pain whatsoever by he and Sango, they wouldn't live to regret it. Hypocritical, if that were true, but the feeling was strong, nonetheless. Which made him wonder again at how thoughtful Inuyasha could be, in spite of his crudeness and general lack of awareness of the niceties of world around him.

Inuyasha cleared his throat and everyone stopped speaking. He opened his mouth, froze, closed it again, cleared his throat and looked down. And then rocked forward as Kouga leaned over and wacked him so hard on the back that he nearly fell over.

"Got something stuck in your throat or something?" the wolf asked gruffly. Inuyasha just glared at him while Sesshoumaru stared at him through hard eyes.

"I'm fine, ya damn wolf. I was just gonna say-" Inuyasha looked at Miroku and Sango again, at Kagome seated on the other side of Kouga, and the little ones playing next to Ginta and Hakkaku, who looked like they wished they could join them. "I just wanted to say…thanks. Thanks for…thanks for everything, you guys. That's all." His voice fell to a mumble by the end as his face heated slightly. Miroku was touched all over again.

"You're very welcome, Inuyasha," Kagome said softly, peering around Kouga at him.

"Yeah. You can be a shit, but you ain't a bad guy." Kouga said it as though that explained everything.

"Inuyasha, you're our friend. We'll always help you out." Sango's soft voice was a welcome balm after Kouga's.

"Yeah, well," Inuyasha hmphed. He couldn't seem to go on, stalling until Sesshoumaru nonchalantly laid his hand next to his brother's leg. Miroku watched carefully when he noticed Inuyasha leaning against it without even noticing. "You guys have done more shit than a lot of friends would ever do, and I ain't had that many friends anyway, so…thanks. You especially, Miroku. You- you did more than you should have, you dumb houshi. But thanks for it, anyway." The gruff hoarseness to his voice made Miroku clear his own throat.

"Thanks aren't necessary, Inuyahsa." Miroku kept his voice soft. "You should know after all this time that I love you too much for you to worry about thanks."

Inuyasha stared. He looked stunned. Was it truly that surprising? Surely he knew that they all cared about him deeply?

A quick glance to the side at Sesshoumaru and then Inuyasha looked back at him as though he wanted confirmation. Miroku nodded, trying to smile even as it broke it heart a little. Did Inuyasha feel so unloved that he couldn't even believe in their friendship, after all this time?

"B-but, houshi-" Inuyasha stuttered to a halt. "…I thought you and Sango-"

The sudden realization of what Inuyasha thought had Miroku's face heating as he waved his hands frantically in denial. Sango started to chuckle next to him. "No! Oh no, not that kind of love. Inuyasha, not that- I mean…I love you like a brother."

Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed and he growled.

"Not THAT type of brother!" Miroku sputtered. Kagome let out a giggle now as well Miroku could feel his face growing hotter. This wasn't what he'd been trying to say at all! "I love you as family, Inuyasha! As a friend, all right! Goodness, what a …ugh."

Sesshoumaru snorted. "As though you would be allowed to care for him in any other capacity, ningen." Sesshoumaru said coldly.

For some reason, that had the girls giggling even more and Miroku smiled helplessly. It was not at all what he'd been expecting tonight, not with how awful the night before had been, but Inuyasha was…not upset. He even sniggered for a moment. The others were smiling. Even with Sesshoumaru included, it almost felt like old times, especially as they were enjoying a little bit of camping outside away from the village.

Kaede had kindly asked them to keep a way for a while until the villagers were more used to Sesshoumaru.

Miroku felt Sango's hand reach out and he took it into his own. She stopped giggling and smiled. It was a melancholy smile, but it was a smile. Yes, they had suffered, and yes, it was going to take a while to get over this. But if Naraku in life hadn't defeated them, there was no way his death and its repercussions were going to.

If only Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha could find some way to be together happily. And Kagome – she needed someone. It was the only way Miroku thought he could truly look forward to a new life that he now had the opportunity to pursue, for the first time.

His head resonated with a sudden pain. He clapped a palm to his red cheek with a pained wince. Looking down, he realized his hand had drifted over to touch Sango's bottom without his notice.

She glared at him, and Inuyasha sniped from across the way.

"See, always told you it wasn't your damn possessed hand that made you pull that crap, idiot monk."

There was a pause, everyone silent, before Miroku smiled over at him and shrugged. "I suppose not, eh?"

He smiled further as Sango glared again. Not too much longer, and he'd be doing more than a brief touch. As soon as he could persuade her…

Clearing his throat, he focused on the fire. Time enough for that another day. They grew silent, the crickets picking up as everyone stayed comfortably near the fire. Except for Inuyasha – he started to fidget.

Would Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru stay with the group this night or go off on their own again? Miroku wasn't entirely certain which would be better for Inuyasha. He didn't think they had consummated their relationship yet, although looking at Sesshoumaru's body and the tension that crept across his skin whenever he looked at Inuyasha, he wasn't certain how much longer that would be the case.

And he wasn't certain what would happen when the time came. Inuyasha needed something more, now. It might be compassion, or simply a little time. Or it might be something from Sesshoumaru that the male couldn't give him. What would happen then? Miroku couldn't stand aside if Inuyasha was going to be hurt again.

Could Sesshoumaru be what Inuyasha needed?

And if he wasn't…. Miroku wondered again if he should have used his kazaana, no matter that they slowly seemed to be finding something with each other. His hole-free hand clenched. That was the wrong question. It was too late for that now.

Far too late. Looking at Sesshoumaru's eyes as they suddenly turned his way, he swallowed and smiled at him with all the innocence he could muster.

Far, far too late.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Sesshoumaru glared at the monk across the fire, wondering again if he should end him. The human smelled suspicious, as though he were plotting something, and it clashed with the look on his face. Sesshoumaru found it somewhat disturbing that there was now a ningen whose scent he knew so well that he could actually TELL that he was planning something.

That he should be close to one, for so long - disturbing. Although Miroku's rather bumbling attempt at proclaiming his affection for Inuyasha had made the hanyou relax in some way that was close to the light feeling when his mate had laughed, before the weeping.

The monk could live.

Sesshoumaru stared at Inuyasha, feeling the jumble of physical sensations from Inuyasha's riot of emotions as his brother nodded to his friends, jibing at them a few times. Inuyasha was better today, with the humans. He wasn't jumping visibly at shadows. His body still tensed, but it wasn't quite so brittle.

He didn't feel on the verge of shattering.

It made Sesshoumaru wonder what he was going to do tonight. Was the fight from the night before or the laughter responsible for Inuyasha's improvement? Was it the humans? Simply being around them when they were acting less, or rather more, like themselves, might produce this result. And if the humans were helping Inuyasha, then he should ensure that Inuyasha stayed here with them tonight. Which meant he would have to tolerate their presence as well.

Rin would have no difficulty, she was already dropping where she stood. The child would sleep anywhere. Jaken was nearby, as well. Sesshoumaru had noticed his scent hovering at the edge of the village, although his retainer hadn't quite worked up the courage to return and take what punishment he might receive for his breach of courtesy. But Sesshoumaru having to deal with these people was something he wasn't certain he was willing to do. But Inuyasha was his mate.

He knew that.

And he was supposed to care for him – that had to be the reason for this continual stream of sensation from his mate. His father had said it was protection, but it involved more than simply the physical or emotions wouldn't have such a physical response inside of a creature.

Unless…was this a result of Inuyasha's human blood? Perhaps that was the reason it was so painfully overwhelming when Inuyasha suffered? Sesshoumaru had never inquired, but he was certain most youkai did not have to deal with such things, even connected to each other as they were.

Was his choice of mates, his choice of a half-human mate, the reason that he was so inundated with feeling in the form of pain and pleasure and blood pounding lust?

Wouldn't that be ironic in the worst possible way?

Especially as there seemed to be nothing Sesshoumaru could do about it. He had to get Inuyasha to recover from this, somehow, and then they could have the relationship they were supposed to. Sesshoumaru would have a responsive, polite, respectful…

Inuyasha belched loudly, licking his fingers.

Perhaps not all that polite. And Inuyasha was never going to be as respectful as Sesshoumaru had once hoped, but he could be taught to have at least some level of respect, and some measure of obedience, especially with regards to his safety.

Once they recovered from this, Sesshoumaru wasn't allowing Inuyasha to put himself into serious jeopardy ever again. It was too difficult, and too…uncomfortable. Inuyasha seemed far too easily broken. He would have to learn not to take so many chances.

"What was he thinking in the first place, bathing by himself," Sesshoumaru murmured. Inuyasha twisted his ears around and stared a moment before shaking his head. He turned back to listen to the bitch miko babbling about something inconsequential.

Who cared what her skill in archery was developing into.

Sesshoumaru struggled to decide what to do as the night grew later and he could feel fatigue creeping up on Inuyasha. He wanted time alone with him again. But not if the boy were going to react worse than the night before.

And perhaps …perhaps if they stayed with the ningen, someone other than himself would comfort Inuyasha when he whimpered and cried in his sleep. Sesshoumaru would no longer be responsible for caring for him that way, and bruising his dignity by doing so.

He glanced at the three ookami and his eyes narrowed. Anyone but one of them. Or the monk. Or the miko.

The slayer, perhaps, would be allowed.

Sesshoumaru needed to sleep. It had been days now, and even his body needed rest before too much longer. That might have to decide him. Sesshoumaru wasn't certain he wanted to see Jaken yet and be reminded of what had happened, but the kappa was still out, in any case. He would have to hunt him down if the toad were to do sentry duty.

If they stayed with the humans, however, Sesshoumaru would have warning if something came – even if it that warning was the humans dying around them. And that meant he could sleep, as long as Rin and Inuyasha remained close by.

"We will be sleeping here. We require accommodations worthy of this Sesshoumaru," he said

Everyone froze; they had been doing this quite a bit tonight.

"We'll sleep on the damn ground like everyone else," Inuyasha growled.

Sesshoumaru stared at him, trying to stare him down, and he wasn't as frustrated as he should have been when Inuyasha didn't waver. His little brother was recovering quicker now. Sesshoumaru could feel his insides quivering – Inuyasha was still not entirely comfortable standing up to Sesshoumaru. As it should be. At least it wasn't the fury from the first few days of their bond.

Sesshoumaru could smell Inuyasha's rage mixed with the fear. More than there should be, from such a small exchange of words. Likely he was angry AT his own fear. That would certainly describe how Inuyasha normally behaved: contrary and ridiculous. Disrespectful

"You will not speak to your mate that way." Sesshoumaru growled low. Hopefully that would take care of things. Not frighten Inuyasha too thoroughly, but keep him from any actions that would require…correction.

Inuyasha quivered – his entire body quivered - and then he took a deep breath, swallowed, and glared.

"Kiss. My. Ass," he said clearly.

Sesshoumaru heard the miko's sharp intake of breath.

The wolf whistled slowly. "Oh man. I cannot believe you just said that, dogbreath," he muttered, leaning away from Inuyasha. "Hell, even I know that means ass-whupping time, "

Sesshoumaru stood up as slowly as he could, letting Inuyasha beat him to a stand as the whelp jumped to his feet.

"You will apologize." Sesshoumaru growled low enough that it was very clear this was between the two of them. No one else was invited to comment, or interfere.

Inuyasha sneered at him, his body growing tight – it was very similar to the previous night just before he'd lashed out, only now it was aimed at Sesshoumaru. And Sesshoumaru knew he was going to have to deal with it. Whatever Inuyasha felt, he was still the uke. He was not exploding without thought right now. It was different than earlier, when pain had been all Sesshoumaru could detect. He didn't feel as broken, simply blood-poundingly angry and rebellious.

And considering what he'd done to Sesshoumaru's armor, and his pride – because no matter that Jaken had caused his humiliation, Inuyasha was ultimately to blame – Sesshoumaru was not going to let this slide by unchallenged.

"Back down, whelp. Right now."

"What'd I tell ya! Kiss. My. ASS!" Inuyasha's claws were out as he snarled at Sesshoumaru.

Sesshoumaru kept his senses open around him to make certain no one was going to have to be put down because they came between him and his mate. With no one moving, he focused completely on Inuyasha.

"I do not believe you will enjoy where this is leading, Inuyasha,"

"I don't believe I give a shit. You don't fucking scare me, you jackass." Inuyasha's sneer matched the rising scent in the air: combative, furious male.

Sesshoumaru realized that half the smell was coming from his own body as he stared at his brother. The boy was infuriating today, when he wasn't confounding Sesshoumaru's sense of who he actually was. He was so damnably contrary. He did nothing right. He was an irritating brat, a disrespectful uke, an immature little puppy of a hanyou.

Sesshoumaru couldn't stop his eyes from running down Inuyasha's body. He was also beautiful in a wild, untamed, seductively innocent way. He was loyal to a fault, even if it was to those undeserving of such an emotion. And…Sesshoumaru wanted to curse as he looked him over again…he was so damn vulnerable still. How could Sesshoumaru want to turn him over his knee and beat his backside red, and want to hear that strange, appealing laughter from him in equal amounts?

Cause him pain and take it away at the same time. It was like everything else involved with his mate: completely incomprehensible and disastrously paradoxical.

"I don't require your fear, uke. I require your respect." Or at least the outward trappings of such. It wasn't much to ask. He'd given Inuyasha more leeway than anyone he'd ever met. A little respect was nothing in return for that. He wasn't even forcing him to submit.

Inuyasha stared at him, a strange quiver going through him as though Sesshoumaru had surprised him in some manner, but it passed and the hanyou's entire body bristled fiercely. Even his hair seem grow in size as the boy noticeably raised his hackles.

"You'll never have either, you fucking, supercilious asshole."

Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed. "Mind your mouth, Inuyasha."

"Fuck you. You're never getting a damn thing from me, you got that? So take your kid, your pervert frog, and your supercilious ass and leave. Next time you want to have someone kiss up to you, you can get the kappa to do it. After today, I'd say he'd fucking LOVE to do that. Hell, you just ask and I bet he'd suck your dick on command. He sure as hell liked touching it today-"

Sesshoumaru had no memory of the next few seconds. It was a solid red-hazed blank in his mind. The next moment he was aware of what was going on, he was walking away from the group, dragging a stumbling Inuyasha behind him. Moko-moko was wrapped around his brother's wrists and forming a lead at the same time. The entire process couldn't have taken long; Inuyasha's eyes were still wide with shock. He hadn't started cursing at Sesshoumaru yet.

The ningen and the ookami hadn't even had time to react. Their heads were just turning to follow Sesshoumaru's path.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?!"

There it was.

"That should be obvious." Sesshoumaru felt like he was spitting the words. He wanted to hit out at the brat so badly. Everything about him made Sesshoumaru absolutely furious right now, and whatever concern he might have had – that he might still have, when the pain rose – he was too furious to care right now.

Insulting him, seeing Sesshoumaru humiliated by his servant's molestation, and disrespecting him publicly with it? There was only so much he could tolerate, no matter what Inuyasha had been through.

"You fucking let go, asshole!"

Inuyasha's voice rose in volume as he finally managed to stop stumbling. Sesshoumaru yanked on his hands before his brother got his feet under him. He had to continue the process, going with enough speed that Inuyasha couldn't catch his balance and retaliate. By the time he actually stopped, he sat down on a small boulder and had Inuyasha over his knee so quickly that the brat didn't even know what had happened until it already had.

He reacted to the situation with such violence it made Sesshoumaru's anger rub against his insides happily like a puppy. With moko-moko holding Inuyasha's wrists to the ground and the boy's legs trapped between Sesshoumaru's, it didn't take long for him to untie his hakama and yank them down from his ass. Inuyasha was snarling without words the moment he did.

The need for violence riding him strong, Sesshoumaru brought his hand up and stared down at the pale ass that had taunted him for days. "I told you not to disrespect me, whelp."

Inuyasha's snarling grew sharper, his struggles more frantic, but he wasn't cursing and that made Sesshoumaru more furious. He NEEDED to have Inuyasha curse at him – it was an acknowledgement of the whelp's position and helplessness, that his mouth ran off when he could do nothing to back it up.

"Nothing to say now, brat?" A taunt would do it. Inuyasha could never resist responding to a taunt. He'd respond and then Sesshoumaru could bring his hand down and blister that blindingly white ass of his until he apologized.

Inuyasha's snarling growls went to a higher pitch, but he still didn't say a word. Inuyasha didn't even sound like he'd heard. The strange reaction made Sesshoumaru pause. His anger faded from fury to anger, just enough that he was aware of Inuyasha in his head again. The red haze died. His stomach clenched at the pain streaming through his brother's body. It was almost worse than the panic he'd been in underneath Naraku.

Sesshoumaru laid his hand on the warm skin of Inuyasha's ass and nothing changed.

"Inuyasha, stop this."

His brother continued his struggles and the snarling brought to mind the desperate posturing of a small, cornered animal facing a predator. Sesshoumaru swallowed uneasily, staring down at the body over his legs. The bared bottom over his lap was taut and tempting, but the unending, mindless struggling was affecting the burgeoning lust.

He pulled Inuyasha upright with a frustrated growl and had to dodge claws and feet as Inuyasha attacked. Letting himself slide off the rock and onto the ground, Sesshoumaru held on until Inuyasha was trapped in his lap, back to Sesshoumaru's stomach, his hakama hanging down his thighs. Inuyasha tried to pull his hands free from the moko-moko, thumped his head back into Sesshoumaru's chest, kicked out at the dirt in front of them, but Sesshoumaru wasn't budging.

He couldn't simply let him go. Inuyasha had insulted him, and he was going to attack if he was released right now. Sesshoumaru had planned on a lot more pain for that pert little ass of his, but…

He was NOT Naraku. He couldn't-

"Stop this at once, Inuyasha. Your punishment is over."

The struggles didn't alter, Inuyasha's body wriggling wildly while his chest echoed with deep growls.

Sesshoumaru tried again. And again. Threats didn't change his behavior, nor orders, not even something that came uncomfortably close to wheedling. Even as unpleasant as he found the situation, Inuyasha bare bottom wriggling over Sesshoumaru's lap was arousing him, and he thought that might be the one thing to affect his brother, in the entirely wrong way.

Sesshoumaru was wondering if he was going to simply have to wait until Inuyasha's muscles gave out, an entirely unpleasant prospect. It could take hours.

"Inuyasha-" What could he say? Nothing was getting through to the whelp, dammit! "Inuyasha…I-"

Why was this like so much else in Sesshoumaru's life with the idiot? Every damn time the brat was infuriating, Sesshoumaru responded in a perfectly reasonable way, and it ended like this. Miserable.

"Inuyasha. I'm sorry." No. He hadn't meant to say that.

But he wasn't Naraku, dammit. He might have let the shame from his actions in his youth egg on a life-long fury towards his brother, but the little brat was infuriating even without that. Even when Sesshoumaru was aware of his own emotions, controlling them, the puppy could make him so furious he wanted to strangle him, but he wasn't Naraku! He didn't get a thrill out of seeing Inuyasha so desperately panicked that he couldn't even form words.

Especially now. He…

Sesshoumaru blinked as he realized Inuyasha had stopped moving. Carefully, as though his gaze could break it, he looked down at his brother to catch him staring up into his own eyes. The hanyou was looking at him, brow furrowed in confusion, cheeks still flushed from his fighting.

Inuyasha tried to speak, had to clear his throat before the words would come out properly. "W-what did you just say?"

Sesshoumaru didn't think he cared to repeat himself. Ever. It had simply been expedient to say something at the time and that was what had emerged.

"Have you controlled yourself now?"

"Stop trying to change the fucking subject! What'd you just say, jackass?"

"Nothing of import."

Inuyasha started at him and shook his head, looking away. "Yeah, didn't think I heard that right. Dumbass."

Sesshoumaru wasn't sure what to say to that so he simply held Inuyasha and they both stared into the darkness as the moon chased the clouds across the sky.