Disclaimer - I do not own InuYasha

CHAPTER TWELVE - The Wanderer Returns

As Sesshomaru walked through the forest, Karanosuke followed closely behind him. He wasn't exactly sure why he was following the father he never wanted to know, yet he continued to do so. Karanosuke was fairly sure that Sesshomaru wasn't happy about his presence and yet he did not care. He would follow his father regardless of his feelings on the subject.

Sesshomaru led the way to a camp site, where a small green imp sat a few feet away from a camp fire.

"Welcome back my lord," the imp said excitedly when Sesshomaru entered the clearing. Then he noticed Karanosuke, who was following a few feet behind Sesshomaru. "Boy, what are you doing here?"

Karanosuke smirked and pointed at Sesshomaru. "I thought that would be rather obvious however if you're really that stupid, I'll explain things to you. I'm following him."

"Do not call my lord "him" as though he were some common demon," the imp exclaimed angrily, glaring at the disrespectful child with obvious dislike. "Show him the respect he deserves or you won't live to repeat your mistake."

"That is enough Jaken," Sesshomaru said in his quiet and yet commanding voice. "Be quiet."

"Yes my lord," Jaken said.

"Hah," Karanosuke said to the imp called Jaken, a smirk on his face.

Jaken stared from his master to the impertinent youth, expecting Sesshomaru to order the boy to be quiet as well however this did not happen. Sesshomaru ignored the boy, just as he'd done with the human girl Rin for so many years.

"I don't understand," Jaken thought to himself. "Why did Lord Sesshomaru allow this half breed to follow him?

Karanosuke had been staying in the campsite with Jaken and Sesshomaru for several days and needless to say Jaken was very unhappy about this arrangement. "My lord, why don't you simply kill this half-breed child and get him out of our hair?"

Sesshomaru whirled around and gave Jaken a chilling stare.

Jaken was instantly terrified. "F-forgive me, my lord."

Karanosuke stared at his father, a shocked expression on his face. Sesshomaru's action had been completely unexpected by the boy. He would have expected Sesshomaru to be all for getting rid of him. "I simply cannot believe that he has developed fatherly feelings for me. No," Karanosuke said, shaking his head. "He's planning something. I just can't figure out what that something is."

Even though Kyo had told him that his father could not possibly be as heartless as he thought, Karanosuke was still not sure what to believe. His mind told him one thing and yet subtle actions by his father occasionally pointed to an alternate conclusion.

"I'm so confused," Karanosuke thought to himself. "I don't know what I should do. I never wanted a relationship with my father, and yet here I am. I only searched him out because of the promise that I made to Mother, or at least that's what I kept telling myself."

Karanosuke had been staying in the campsite with his father and Jaken for several days and yet he still had not confronted Sesshomaru and demanded him to explain what had happened between him and Hina. Karanosuke wasn't sure what was stopping him yet every time he started to bring up the subject his words failed him. This both confused and angered the boy.

"I don't believe this," Karanosuke grumbled under his breath. "I finally found my father and I can say anything I want yet the words won't come. I'm such a coward."

Karanosuke sat around the campfire, thinking about what the future held for him. "I've fulfilled my promise to Mother so now what do I do? I have no home and no family aside from my cold and uncaring father. What is there for me in this world?'

Karanosuke stared at the flames dancing in front of him, trying to think of a solution to his problem. The flames seemed to hypnotize him and he gazed at them unblinking. As he watched the flames he began to grow restless. This lifestyle did not suit him. He had been idle for far too long.

"I can't take this," Karanosuke said, jumping to his feet. In the year since his mother's death, he had grown accustomed to being on his own and relying on his own strength for survival. With the exception of the few months that he'd spent in the village of Kaede, Karanosuke had lived in the forests relying on his own strength and he'd enjoyed it. His thoughts went briefly to Sesshomaru and Jaken.

The two demons had done nothing but ignore his presence since he'd arrived so he knew they'd be happy to see him go. "I'll grant their wish then. They'll return from their journey and I'll no longer be here. That should make them happy."

His father and Jaken had left early that morning. They had not bothered to tell Karanosuke where they were going and he had not asked. He wasn't even sure whether or not they intended to return. "Oh well, it does not matter."

Karanosuke put out the campfire and then left the temporary campsite. He walked through the forest, uncertain of where he was going and as he walked he ran into Sesshomaru and Jaken, who were on their way back to the campsite.

"Look my lord," Jaken said excitedly. "The half breed finally took the hint. He's leaving."

Sesshomaru shot a chilling stare toward his servant, who was instantly terrified. As Jaken quivered with fear behind him, Sesshomaru turned his attention to Karanosuke. "Where are you going boy?"

"I don't know," Karanosuke replied shortly, glaring at the father whom he so closely resembled. "I just know I can't stand to be here any longer."

Sesshomaru gazed at the boy thoughtfully and then suddenly removed a sword and sheath from his sash. "Take this. The Tenseiga is useless to me yet it may prove to be of some use to you."

Karanosuke already had a powerful sword, Taiketsu the sword of elements, however he took the sword offered to him by his father. He stuck the sheathed sword in his sash, beside Taiketsu. "Thanks. . . Father." With that he turned and began to walk away from his newly found father. He had fulfilled his promise to his mother and now that he had found his father Karanosuke was ready to continue with his journey. There would be a place for him in this world, he would carve it out for himself.

That was the first time Karanosuke had ever called Sesshomaru father and Jaken was completely taken by surprise. Could this half breed child really be the son of his master? Visions of another half breed flashed before his eyes and it was in that moment that he knew the answer.

As the boy walked away Sesshomaru turned to face Jaken. "Go with him," he ordered.

Jaken's eyes grew large. "What?"

"You will accompany the boy," Sesshomaru said coldly. "And Jaken."

"Yes my lord?"

"Should anything happen to the boy, you will die."

Gulping loudly, Jaken nodded and quickly ran to catch up with the young boy. He fell into step a few paces behind the boy.

"What do you want?" Karanosuke demanded, glaring down at the imp with hatred evident in his amber, fox eyes.

"I am at your service," Jaken grumbled, not at all happy about the prospect.

"I do not need your service," Karanosuke said. "Be gone."

"I can not," Jaken said.

Karanosuke glared down at the demon who glared back but refused to leave. "Fine, have it your way. But don't blame me when something eats you."

Jaken held up the staff that he always carried. "The staff of skulls will protect me."

"Lucky you," Karanosuke said dryly.

"So where are we going Lord Karanosuke?" Jaken asked.

"LORD Karanosuke?" the boy said incredulously. "Why did you call me that?"

"Because you are Lord Sesshomaru's son," Jaken said.

"Whatever," Karanosuke said.

"So where are we going?"

"I have no idea," Karanosuke said. "I became accustomed to traveling around a lot during the time I spent searching for my father and I simply have the urge to go somewhere. So I'm going somewhere."

Jaken rolled his eyes. "You certainly are an impulsive youth Lord Karanosuke."

"And you certainly are a hypocrite," Karanosuke said, glaring at the imp. "Up until today you thought of me as nothing more than a filthy half breed. Then you found out that your lord was my father. Now all of a sudden you're treating me with respect."

Jaken chose to ignore the boy's accusation and continued to follow Karanosuke, grumbling quietly to himself. "I

can't believe Lord Sesshomaru demanded me to follow this half breed brat."

Jaken resented the order from his master with every fiber of his being. However it was still an order and he would obey, no matter how much it angered him.

Karanosuke was no happier than his reluctant servant. He would have much preferred to be traveling by himself, yet he could not prevent the annoying imp from following him, aside from killing him. And although at times he wanted to, Karanosuke would not kill the irritating little beast. His father had shown him a small amount of kindness during the time they had spent together and because of that Karanosuke would tolerate his irritating little servant. However it didn't stop him from attempting to persuade the imp to go back to Sesshomaru.

"Listen," Karanosuke said as the two of them walked through the forest. "I know you don't want to be here any more than I want you here so why don't you just go back to my father?"

"I can't do that Lord Karanosuke," Jaken said.

"Dammit all to hell," Karanosuke exclaimed.

Karanosuke journeyed through the forest where he had been staying with his father and headed in the direction of a very tall mountain range that he saw off in the distance. He wasn't sure what it was but something was drawing him toward the tallest of the mountains.

Karanosuke gazed at the distant mountain. "I wonder what it is that is compelling me to journey to that mountain? I've never been there before and yet I seemed compelled beyond all reason to go there. There must be some reason behind it."

Karanosuke was anxious to reach the mountain and find out why he was so compelled to be there and somehow, in his eagerness, he managed to conjure up a demonic cloud. The cloud seemed to have energy swirling through it and it lifted Karanosuke and Jaken off the ground.

"How did I do that?" Karanosuke exclaimed as the demonic cloud lifted him and his servant.

Jaken was also in awe over Karanosuke's powers. "This is just like the demonic cloud that Lord Sesshomaru uses from time to time."

The cloud seemed to be following directions according to where Karanosuke desired to go and the two demons were quickly airlifted to the far away mountain that was calling out to Karanosuke.

When Karanosuke's cloud landed he and Jaken found themselves standing outside a cave. The cloud dissipated as soon as Karanosuke and Jaken stepped to the ground and as he stood in front of the cave Karanosuke felt a strange pulsing coming from the sword that his father had given him.

"Tenseiga is pulsing," Karanosuke mumbled, confused.

Karanosuke glanced around, trying to figure out why he should be here. He saw nothing out of the ordinary, just plants, trees and the occasional bird or small animal. He sniffed the air and quickly picked up the scent of a demon and mixed in with it was the strong scent of human blood.

The scent was coming from inside the cave and Karanosuke quickly stepped inside. When his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the cave he saw a huge demon standing over the bodies of a woman and a young boy. Karanosuke picked up the scent of their blood and gasped.

"Lady Kagome! Suichi!"

The demon turned away from his victims and glared at Karanosuke. "What do you want boy?"

The demon was covered in the blood of his two victims. The bright red blood dripped from the creature's claws and fangs. Seeing the blood of two of the few people that he called friend infuriated the young boy.

Karanosuke's eyes began to glow red. "I'm going to kill you!" he growled menacingly. Karanosuke was only seconds away from transforming when he felt a pulse once again coming from the sword that he wore at his side. The boy's eyes returned to their normal amber color and he placed his hand on Tenseiga, the mystery sword given to him by his father. He had never seen his father use the sword and had never had cause to draw the blade himself so he found himself completely ignorant of the sword's powers, even as Tenseiga compelled him to unsheathe it.

"What is it Tenseiga?' the boy murmured, staring down at the sheathed sword he wore at his side. "Do you wish to be drawn?"

Karanosuke unsheathed the sword and stared at the seemingly normal blade. Karanosuke took a few steps toward the demon, who retreated farther into the cave. The boy made a move to follow the demon only to be stopped by Tenseiga. The sword pulsed once more as he passed by the bodies of his slain friends.

"I don't understand Tenseiga," Karanosuke said. "What do you want me to do?"

Karanosuke stared from the bodies of his fallen friends to the sword he held in his hands. He wasn't sure what to do and he raised the sword and swung it through the air , out of frustration. A blue aura trailed in Tenseiga's wake and Karanosuke gasped as Kagome and Suichi both took a breath.

He stared bewildered at them as they sat up. "You were dead. I know you were dead." He glanced at the sword that he held in his hand. "This sword has freaky powers."

Kagome stared at the young boy for a few seconds and then her gaze shifted to the katana that he held in his hand. "You have the Tenseiga."

"Yea," Karanosuke said, a confused look on his face. "But what's that got to do with anything?"

"Tenseiga is the sword of healing," Kagome explained. "It has the ability to bring back the souls of the dead. You saved our lives with your father's sword Karan."

Karanosuke stared at the blade of Tenseiga. "I brought you back from the dead with this?"

Kagome nodded.

The demon had been cowering in the back of the cave and had witnessed the powers of Tenseiga from the shadows. The demon was terrified. Surely if this young half breed had the power to bring back the dead, the boy would most definitely have the power to end his life.

"I gotta get outta here," the demon whispered.

The demon was slowly making his way to the mouth of the cave, making sure to stay hidden in the shadows, and he was almost there when the half breed suddenly landed in front of him.

Karanosuke raised his right hand and cracked his knuckles. "Going somewhere, you filthy demon?"

The demon dropped to his knees. "Please don't hurt me."

"Silence you worthless fool!"

The energy whip shot from Karanosuke's finger tip and slashed the demon across the neck. The beast let out a strange, gurgling cry and collapsed to the ground.

Karanosuke walked back over to the spot where Kagome and Suichi sat. 'You two should probably return to your village now."

Kagome stood up and put her arms around Karanosuke. "Thank you for saving us Karan. We are in your debt."

Karanosuke shook his head, thinking back to the kindness that this woman had shown him when he'd arrived in her village. "You owe me nothing."

The three of them walked out of the cave, back into the light of day.

"Why were the two of you here anyway?" Karanosuke wanted to know.

"I was searching for a rare healing herb that only grows at the top of this mountain," Kagome explained. "And

Suichi came along to help."

"Why didn't Inuyasha accompany you?"

"He and Kyo are off training," Kagome explained. "I hadn't planned on making this journey until he returned but one of the village children needs the herb."

"I see," Karanosuke said. "Then you should return to the village as soon as possible."

"I know," Kagome said with a nod. "It'll take days to get back there though."

"I have an idea," Karanosuke said. "I think I can get you there faster."

"How?" Kagome wanted to know.

Karanosuke concentrated all his energy and the demonic cloud appeared under his feet. "Jump on and I'll give you a lift to the village."

Kagome stared at the demonic cloud. She recognized it as being very similar to the one Sesshomaru had used. This son of Sesshomaru had incredible powers, especially for a half demon.

Karanosuke offered his hand and Kagome took it and stepped onto the cloud. Suichi quickly joined her, followed by a very reluctant Jaken and the unusual group began their journey. It took only a few hours for Karanosuke's cloud to reach the village, whereas it would have taken Kagome and Suichi a couple of days to get there by foot.

Karanosuke's cloud touched down outside the village and the group was met by Inuyasha and Kyo.

Inuyasha ran up to Kagome as she and Suichi jumped down from the cloud. "Where have you been Kagome?"

"Suichi and I went to the mountains to gather a rare herb," Kagome said. "While there we were attacked by a demon. The demon grabbed Suichi and dragged him off to a cave. I followed the demon to the cave and made it just in time to save Suichi from the demon's blow."

Inuyasha gasped and stared at Kagome. "You don't look injured to me."

"We were dead," Suichi stated.

"What?!" Inuyasha exclaimed.

Kagome nodded. "The demon killed us both but luckily for us Karanosuke came and brought us back to life with the Tenseiga."

Inuyasha stared at the young boy, who stood a little ways away from the group with Jaken cowering behind him. "And why exactly do you have the Tenseiga?"

Karanosuke shrugged. "Father told me that the sword Tenseiga was useless to him however he thought that it might come in handy for me. So he told me to take it."

"I see," Inuyasha said. "Thank you very much for saving my wife and son."

"Don't mention it," Karanosuke said.

Inuyasha glanced down and saw Jaken cowering behind Karanosuke's legs. Up until that point, he hadn't noticed the imp. "Jaken! What the hell are you doing here?"

Karanosuke glared down at the imp. "For some reason he's been following me ever since I left the company of Father. I've been trying to get rid of him for days but no matter what I say, he won't go away."

"Hmmm," Kagome thought to herself. "I wonder."

Karanosuke gazed at the happy family and decided that it was time for him to depart. "Good-bye."

"Leaving so soon Karan?" Kyo asked.

Karanosuke nodded.

Inuyasha walked up to the boy and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I am in your debt. If you ever have need of my aid, all you have to do is ask. You got that?"

"I understand," the boy said.

Inuyasha removed his hand from the boy's shoulder. "Have a safe journey."

"Farewell," Kagome called out.

Karanosuke waved good-bye and once again conjured up his demonic cloud. The cloud began to rise and Karanosuke realized that his reluctant servant was not on board. He glanced down at the imp, who was still staring fearfully at Inuyasha.

"I should just leave him," Karanosuke muttered.

After debating on saying nothing and simply leaving Jaken in the village of Kaede, Karanosuke decided to call out to his servant.

"Hurry up Jaken," Karanosuke called out. "Or I'll leave you behind."

Jaken jumped in alarm when he heard the boy's voice. He looked up and saw Karanosuke departing on his demonic cloud. "Wait Lord Karanosuke! Don't leave me behind."

Jaken jumped onto the demonic cloud just in time. He heaved a sigh of relief as the cloud rose higher into the air. He had nearly missed his ride and dared not even think what might have happened to him had he been left to the mercy of Inuyasha. In this case he would choose his half breed master, who was definitely the lesser of two evils.

"I can't believe he almost left me," Jaken grumbled under his breath. Then he thought, "But Lord Karanosuke did warn me instead of keeping his mouth shut and just leaving me."

Jaken stared up at his young master, his eyes wide. "Thank you for not leaving me behind Lord Karanosuke."

Karanosuke shrugged. "Whatever."

Kagome and Inuyasha stood side by side, watching the young boy and his companion fly off into the distance.

"So Inuyasha," Kagome said. "Why do you suppose Jaken insists on following Karanosuke, who is obviously not happy about his presence?"

"How the hell should I know?" Inuyasha said.

Kagome shook her head. "It's a good thing you're cute because you are so dense."

Inuyasha glared at her. "Okay then. If you're so smart then you tell me why the toad insists on staying with Karanosuke."

"It's because Sesshomaru ordered him to," Kagome said.

"What?" Inuyasha exclaimed. "And how exactly did you arrive at that particular conclusion? You do realize that you're talking about my brother, don't you?"

"I realize this," Kagome said. "But just think about it for a minute Inuyasha. Karanosuke obviously doesn't want Jaken tagging along on his journey and Jaken seems equally unhappy about the arrangement. Yet the imp refuses to leave, despite the many times that Karanosuke has told him to go away. This can mean only one thing, Sesshomaru ordered him to follow the boy."

"And why would he do such a thing?" Inuyasha wanted to know.

"Because he was worried about the boy," Kagome said. "And that proves that he has feelings for the boy."

"There's no way in all the seven hells," Inuyasha said.

"Why not?"

"I told you why. It's MY brother we're talking about," Inuyasha said. "He doesn't have any feelings, except for hate."

"I think you're wrong," Kagome said. "I think your brother has the same feelings that everyone else has, he just doesn't know how to express those feelings."

"I think you're crazy," Inuyasha said, then immediately knew that he had messed up.

Kagome's eyes narrowed. "INUYASHA."

Inuyasha's eyes grew large. "Wait Kagome, I didn't . . ."


The beads around Inuyasha's neck began to glow and he was pulled to the ground, face first. He slowly raised his head. "Kagome had to say it," he moaned.

"Yes I did," Kagome said. "Maybe that'll teach you to think before you open your big mouth."

"Not likely," Kyo piped up.

"No one asked you boy," Inuyasha grumbled, getting to his feet.

"That's okay," Kyo said. "I'm your son, you don't have to ask for my opinion in order to receive it."

A small vein bulged out on Inuyasha's forehead and Kagome shook her head slightly in the direction of her son. "You should quit while you're ahead Kyo.

Sesshomaru awoke with a start and gazed around his surroundings. He didn't even remember going to sleep and the strange dream had been so vivid. Shaking his head in denial the demon thought to himself, "Yea right, like that would ever happen."

At this moment Sesshomaru caught the scent of blood and it was blood that he recognized. Something had happened to Rin and she was injured. Getting to his feet Sesshomaru followed the scent of Rin's blood to a clearing where he found his human companion being cared for by a half demon woman.

Sesshomaru's eyes widened in surprise as recognition hit him. The woman who was treating Rin's wounds was Hina, the woman from his dreams.

"Unreal. . ."

A/N - and thus ends the story of Karanosuke and it was all a dream. Imagine that. Hope you enjoyed this story. This is Hitsu-taichou signing out.