In the months since Naraku's defeat and the ending of the Shikon no Tama, life had proceeded in regular patterns. Sango looked after her babies, Miroku and Inuyasha had formed a partnership to keep themselves busy and provide for the growing family and Rin helped Kaede under the guardianship of both Inu brothers. Also regularly, although only Shippou knew this, Inuyasha tried jumping in the well every three days to see if it worked again, only to be disappointed.
Sesshoumaru too knew that Inuyasha held onto the hope that one day the Miko would return to him; but he used his knowledge to taunt the hanyou into starting a sparring match whenever he was in the area visiting Rin. The brothers no longer fought to seriously injure one another; they had a truce after all, born from the time they had combined forces to bring down Naraku. Besides, Sesshoumaru needed someone he could trust to help him protect Rin; the Lord's ward needed to learn about human life within the village safely.
Then came the marvellous day when the well re-opened and Kagome returned to the past and Inuyasha. The couple were overjoyed to be together again and even though the well had closed for good behind her, Kagome had no regrets about her decision to leave her home to live in the past. The three years separation had been hard for her too, and her family had accepted long before the well opened that given the chance the girl would choose to go to be with her hanyou.
A couple of weeks afterwards, when all had settled down between the friends who had never thought to see her again, Kagome shared Inuyasha's hut as his mate and sat and talked with him during the day as she worked at learning to be the next Miko. Inuyasha did not worry Kagome but he would need to speak to Sesshoumaru the next time he visited Rin. When Sesshoumaru came, Kagome called out to him even though she knew he would not reply and his look of disdain was most off putting, but Inuyasha couldn't afford to wait until the next visit.
The hanyou waited until after his brother had visited with Rin and left her a brand new kimono and then he approached the Daiyoukai before he lifted off on his youki cloud to go home. Sesshoumaru watched his brother and Kagome approach and decided to wait and see what Inuyasha wanted of him. But Inuyasha wasn't quick enough to form his sentence before Sesshoumaru spoke.
"Your Miko has returned to you I see; your patience has been rewarded."
"Yes, we are now mated and I wanted to ask you if you would extend our truce to any pups Kagome and me may have."
"You are concerned about pups?"
"Yes, I know that you protect the area here when I am away and because of Rin; I'm asking you to do the same for Kagome and my pups."
"There is no need to worry about pups Inuyasha."
"Thank you, Sesshoumaru..."
"You obviously do not understand the nature of hanyou Inuyasha; there will be no pups, you are sterile and do not produce living seed."
"What...what do you mean? How the hell would you know that?" Inuyasha was shocked to the core by his brother's statement.
"It is a matter of common knowledge amongst the educated, although I also know your personal scent has not the strength of life; not many hanyou reach an age where it matters, and of those that do, even fewer gain a mate. It is merely the way that nature provides to stop any further abominations."
"You still think that of me...after all we've been through?"
"Whatever I may think of you now as a person and my brother, your existence was still regrettable; hanyou should never be born."
"I'll never have pups and you still despise me; I thought...hoped perhaps..."
"We can never be more than we are now Inuyasha; I will tolerate you and your mate but that is all, and be thankful there will be no further dilution of our father's blood, that would be unacceptable." With that parting remark, Sesshoumaru left the pair without further concern over the effects his devastating words would have.
"You could be wrong; I've already proved different to other hanyou, I'm strong as a youkai." Inuyasha yelled out after his brother.
"Pray that I am not incorrect Inuyasha." Was the veiled threat of a rejoinder that reached him clearly and Inuyasha turned distressed eyes to Kagome.
"He is wrong Kagome; I'll show him, don't worry, we shall have as many pups as we want. I can protect them from my arrogant brother. We can move away when pups come, somewhere he won't bother looking for us if I make no trouble for him; in fact we can go now if you like. I'll bring you back to visit everybody, but we will have pups; I've always dreamed of having pups, but I never thought anyone would want to have them with me, so we'll have lots of them and make our own clan, they will never be alone I promise."
Kagome felt desperately sad for her mate as she heard him desperately trying to convince himself that Sesshoumaru was just being sadistic. However she was a girl with the benefit of the education the youkai had mentioned, and it wouldn't surprise her if Inuyasha was typical of most male hybrids of all species and unable to sire offspring. She wouldn't say this to him of course, there would be no point as nothing would be changed and as Inuyasha said, who was to say that he wouldn't be the exception to the rule.
As there was nothing she could say, Kagome merely turned to her mate and stopped his ranting by kissing him passionately and being thankful that no one was around when he immediately reacted and set out to make a pup there and then. She also just held him as he wept when the adrenalin abated, leaving him despondent and waiting for her to also condemn his heritage just as everyone eventually did. Kagome though was far wiser than when she had been left back in her own time and knew when to keep silent and told him with her body language that her love for him had not lessened because of this news.
As time went by, it seemed as if Sesshoumaru would be proven right; there was no sign of a pup for Inuyasha and Kagome. They had even asked the advice and opinion of Miroku, Sango and Kaede in case any had an idea of what could be done to help them conceive. Kagome went along with all the herbal remedies that Kaede and Sango could concoct for both her and Inuyasha, although she herself held out no hope for them to work.
They meditated and prayed for hours at a time but still nothing, although neither would concede defeat. Meantime Sango and Miroku's family expanded as another boy was born to them and it seemed that it would always be that the barren pair would only ever be able to be the fond aunt and uncle. This they did admirably, Inuyasha was always to be found with the children somewhere close by and after two years no one would have been able to see the disappointment in him, that it was not his own offspring that delighted in his Inu features.
No one but his mate of course, but they had not yet given up hope and once an idea surfaced, Inuyasha pursued it as if it were Naraku until it became accomplished. He and Miroku still worked together, it was imperative for the monk to be a good provider for his growing family and Inuyasha too had an agenda now. His was to provide Kagome with the best things he could, fine kimono and hair ornaments and items for the house. To that end he worked with Miroku, made leather and carvings and bartered meat that he had hunted.
He would not see his mate in any less finery than an orphaned human child who happened to be the ward of his youkai brother. Sesshoumaru was bemused by the rivalry; he could afford to deck the girl in silks everyday if he so wished and Inuyasha could never hope to compete, but Kagome allowed it, as it occupied her hanyou and gave him another thing to think about. When she explained this to Sesshoumaru though, he merely stated that she was as great a fool as Inuyasha if she thought he had given up the hope of a pup.
Well into the third year since becoming mates with Kagome and still no issue, Inuyasha thought of a dangerous scheme; perhaps if he could mate Kagome in his full youkai state, his youkai could pup her. Inuyasha knew that he would not hurt his mate now, he had enough control as had been seen when they had been inside Naraku during the final fight. Kagome had pulled him out of his ignorance of himself and everything else; in turn, he had saved her from falling.
But this was not something he could attempt alone, it was far too risky; not for Kagome but in case she could not bring him back to his hanyou state, then he could become a lethal uncontrolled killing machine. He first broached his idea to Miroku, wondering if the monk could think of ways to control him; forewarned being forearmed. Miroku was only willing to consider it because he knew how much his friend wanted children; a desire that only grew more intensive the longer he was denied them.
Miroku discussed this new proposal quietly with Kaede marvelling that it was Inuyasha and not Kagome who seemed so driven. It was then that Kaede told him that Kagome had suspected the truth from things she had learned in the future and was also not the one who was barren. Inuyasha's masculine pride was badly hurt and causing some of the pressure to find a solution, apart from the real desire for pups.
Unfortunately, or not, Rin casually remarked to Sesshoumaru about the plan as she had overheard them talking and as she did not know of her Lord's feelings on the subject of more hanyou pups, she had no qualms in telling him the news. Sesshoumaru's response was immediate and he left Rin and picked up his brother bodily and took him into the forest and subjected him to a severe beating that left the hanyou battered and bleeding. He now sat hugging his knees to his chest with his head down, completely ignoring his youkai brother.
Sesshoumaru observed him for a few moments, calmly assessing him until Inuyasha was ready to listen, and knowing from experience that it would have to wait until the boy was more composed. He remained silent until Inuyasha stopped growling and his anger had drained away, leaving the quieter, far more subdued hanyou fighting his pain and not his sibling.
"You really are an unmitigated fool Inuyasha. You wish for pups so much that you would risk not only your mate but your associates as well? Your selfishness astounds even This Sesshoumaru."
"I was only planning with Miroku, he thought it would work." Inuyasha said in his defence.
"You forget your friends are loyal and would do almost anything, including endanger themselves for you. A true noble thinks of his vassals' safety before himself."
"They ain't vassals, they're my friends."
"That makes what you planned worse. The monk and slayer have whelps and you would put your desires above their lives. The monk could only have approached you once you were in youkai form for the control to have effect. How would he have done that when you would be insensible of why he came to you? Did you consider that you would have to feel your life threatened to become youkai?"
"I hadn't got that far...I..."
"You ignore my advice and knowledge and instead of channelling your desires into other avenues you have dwelt on the thought of pups. You are still a child Inuyasha; let me tell you this and remember my words if you don't want to be punished again. Even as full youkai your seed would be dead, you would have more stamina only, but life cannot be transmitted to your seed by your transformation. If you go against my decision in this, know that I will kill you without fail this time; I will not stand by and let your rabid mania bring further disgrace to our house."
"You're a cruel bastard you know Sesshoumaru."
"It is not cruel to speak the truth Inuyasha; it would be more so to allow you to hope. Why do you wish for pups in any case, they would always be in peril, not the least from This Sesshoumaru?"
"Don't you ever want an heir; pups to love and have them love you?" Inuyasha ignored the threat, secretly he didn't believe that Sesshoumaru would ever kill them, after all he had never killed Inuyasha.
"I will have them one day certainly, but you have no need of an heir, you have nothing of importance to bequeath, neither lands nor property and as for love, you have your mate to supply that need. I do not feel regret that you are unable to sire pups and further diluting the family bloodline, but I do regret you cannot let the idea go." Sesshoumaru left Inuyasha sitting by the river, knowing the boy would need to bathe to ease his hurts and went back to complete his visit with Rin.
Inuyasha though, was utterly crushed; Sesshoumaru had not been cruel as such, but there was no understanding or concern for his little brother's plight. It was even more galling that his elder brother had been right to censure him for his stupidity in even contemplating a deliberate loss of control to his youkai. It was at this point he accepted that he would never know his own child and that by default Kagome too would be denied.
Inuyasha put his head down again and wept bitterly until he was found by Kagome who had been advised that Inuyasha needed her by Sesshoumaru. He had told her what he had done to her mate and the reasons why, at which point she surprised the Daiyoukai by agreeing with what he had done to Inuyasha. She was beyond angry at both Inuyasha and Miroku for considering such a gamble and was fully prepared to give her mate a piece of her mind, until she saw his distress.
Once again she just held him as he held on to her as if to a lifeline; his broken words of apology were enough, and she knew that the message had finally got through to him. Sesshoumaru's brutally blunt words had killed any hope Inuyasha had held on to in his heart; he knew that his brother was not lying to hurt him, he had no need. Kagome then learned what her brother-in-law had said to Inuyasha and she sighed, sad that there had been no gentler way to get her mate to see reason.
It was a different Inuyasha that returned from the forest with his mate than had gone in with his brother; he was sadder and wiser for one, and some of his zest for life had gone. The couple were now resigned to the fact that they would remain childless and would have to make do with the status of aunt and uncle alone.
A couple of years later when Rin turned seventeen or as near as they could tell, village life started to change; Kohaku came home and asked formally to court Sesshoumaru's ward. The Daiyoukai spoke with him for a long while allowing the young man to prove himself suitable as a husband for Rin. Kohaku had exorcised most of his self disgust, the maturing young man was at last able to see how he had been manipulated and had started to move forward with his life.
He now wanted to settle down; he had accumulated some wealth and a good reputation and felt he had prospects to offer Rin who he had come to love more each time he saw her, since she'd been a kind little girl travelling with Sesshoumaru. His aim was to restore his old village and use it as a training centre to teach others, and educate them in the knowledge to distinguish between the good and bad youkai. No longer would humans automatically assume all youkai would harm them.
It seemed a good idea and Rin was secured once Sesshoumaru heard from her own mouth that the girl was not averse to marrying the young slayer. The wedding was scheduled for the beginning of summer and Sesshoumaru generously added to the dowry of fine silks and jewellery amongst the other things that he had been gifting to the girl since he left her in the care of the older Miko.
Inuyasha and Kagome had spoken privately to Rin as well on the subject of Kohaku; they had become good friends with the young girl and she often spent nights in the home of the couple. In fact she was often to be seen hunting or practicing with the light swords alongside Inuyasha, who took time to train her. Kagome might have been a bit jealous of the relationship the two had developed while she was away, but it was always obvious that the girl was enraptured by her Lord and only looked for his likeness in Inuyasha. He spoke now;
"Rin you do not have to go through with this marriage if you don't love Kohaku; I will speak to Sesshoumaru for you."
"Kohaku is a good man and I do love him...enough to make him happy; I will be a good wife."
"No one doubts that, but I know you are not in love with him; you love someone else."
"There is nothing to be done about that Inuyasha; all I can give him is my obedience and loyalty, he would not welcome my love."
"Perhaps given time...he holds you are in the highest regard; certainly more than his remaining family."
"Exactly," Rin laughed; "would you have me try to seduce him and bring more hanyou into the world? Should his pups be treated with the derision he still treats you; or worse, as despised as you used to be?"
"He would not treat his own pups so badly Rin."
"Because he would never have hanyou pups; do you think he doesn't know how I feel about him? Believe me, he knows; just as he knows how you would like him to be more familial and that you love him despite all he has done and does to you."
"He knows all that..?"
"Of course; I know he is has been ruthless and often cruel, especially to you and he can still be so in some ways despite your truce, but I love him and owe him my life. I will do as he deems right. Kohaku will not suffer with me as his wife and he knows how I feel about Sesshoumaru, he too learned to love him."
Inuyasha had no more to say, although he couldn't help wonder what it was that enabled his brother to inspire such devotion and knowing that he too would have been the same if he'd ever been given the chance. Kagome had said nothing, she knew as well as Rin that this was the best opportunity the girl would have for a normal family life now and she and Kohaku were very good friends, and it was not unlikely they would be happy together.