Papa's Home Truths
"You give me such hope My Pups; you overcame your differences without your mother or I intervening. Remember that if you can do this in any other altercation you may have, you will be unstoppable together." Inu no Taishou praised, although he emphasized the word 'pups' just to impress upon them that they were both still under his own Alpha headship, no matter that Sesshoumaru was now considered an adult. The eldest son took note and revealed his neck slightly, letting his father know that he understood.
Inuyasha though was oblivious to the warning but vastly relieved that his world had returned somewhat to normal. Immediately his ears perked right up and his eyes shone with the joy that had been missing since his quarrel with Sesshoumaru. Inuyasha's mercurial nature was difficult to suppress and shouldn't be, it was part of his human heritage and made him who he was; as was the cheeky, yet hopeful grin the boy gave his father.
"Does that mean you will let me off my escort Papa, now you know I can be grown up?" Inuyasha's ears were like sails, open and wide making him look even more like a pup than normal in his unconscious effort to appease his Alpha, and his father had to smother a smile as he sternly replied.
"Don't push your luck Puppy; you are skating on thin ice at the moment. Besides which, you have some clearing up to do before you bathe for dinner; you will assist the gardeners in repairing the damage to the courtyard."
"It wasn't just me Papa." He whined and Inu no Taishou grinned.
"No. but you provoked the fight and Sesshoumaru has his own repairs to make, he must prepare to visit and apologise to Susumu, who has returned to his home." Inu no Taishou noted the surprised look on his eldest's face and the slight annoyance as he understood that his father had sent the kitsune home in order to teach his heir a lesson in court etiquette. Wisely however, the younger youkai said nothing and once again acknowledged his father's right to demand his acquiescence.
Inu no Taishou watched Inuyasha greet his mother before going to see from the gardeners just what it was they wanted him to do. Then he spared a thought for his poor gardens that would probably never be the same once the exuberant pup had finished his work. The general went to his study followed by Sesshoumaru who wished to speak further with him. Inu no Taishou ordered refreshments including sake for them both and they sat sipping the warmed drink companionably.
"Did Inuyasha say you have given him an escort Papa?"
"Yes, it is part of my stipulation that he has an escort for when he is outside of the Palace."
"I don't understand the need, haven't you extracted a promise from his youkai?"
"That was a promise that he would tell either of us if he ever got such an idea again."
"Surely he will have given any such hare-brained schemes up now; he knows that being hanyou is what he is and it doesn't matter to any of us."
"It will always matter to Inuyasha, My Son; his youkai wants to be as strong as possible and is overly sensitive to being considered weak and he humanly also wants to be completely acceptable to his friends. He is tired of always being passed over when it comes to invites to other homes. This will only get worse if he is not taken seriously as he gets older. If Inuyasha hears of any way to become a full youkai, he will want to take it…and it will be his right to decide, if we deem it safe for him Sesshoumaru."
"Will it always be thus for Inuyasha Papa?"
"I don't think so, but a lot will depend on him; I plan to speak with him about this tomorrow."
"If he ever becomes full youkai it will change him, change our bond…" Sesshoumaru said; his voice low and quiet and his father heard the real concern that the older son held was the fear of losing the vibrant personality of his younger brother.
"I should think if anything your bond would strengthen, it was your combined youkai that forged it in the first place."
"But Inuyasha would not be the same as he is."
"You mean that as a hanyou he has greater sensitivity and perhaps understanding of all peoples than a full youkai would do normally. I agree with you, full youkai are not usually so full of feeling towards each other are we? And yet there is irony in that, we do seem to need to be understood by a gentler soul at times don't we? One day you will find your mate will fill that gap for you, if you choose her wisely."
Inu no Taishou watched as his son digested these words and hoped that they would suffice for now. It was true a nice gentle mate would bring a form of balance to his older son, but he knew that Sesshoumaru would not be happy with a mouse like creature, any more than his father would have been. But that would mean a woman that would truly suit his son would probably be an Alpha Bitch in her own right and able to hold her own in the relationship, just as his mother did. She would not however fill the gap of the patently adoring, albeit sometime argumentative, little Beta brother.
Therefore Inu no Taishou hoped fervently that if Inuyasha was ever able to become full youkai, he would still remember who he was in essence, that his personality wouldn't change too much. It would not just be Sesshoumaru who would miss the sunny, charming and often unpredictable hanyou who was the light of the whole family's life. However there was a more serious side to this as far as the General was concerned; if Inuyasha became youkai, the plans which had been mulled around in Inu no Taishou's head would be likely to fail.
There was no doubt that when Inuyasha fully matured, he would be incredibly strong; whether or not he would be able to rival Sesshoumaru or his other siblings. But if he became youkai he would be an unknown, not having the combined youkai blood from two parents. Should he become an Alpha as his brothers, Inuyasha would not be able to second Sesshoumaru in the rule of the West when the land became his brother's responsibility. Sesshoumaru would have to rule alone just as his father did.
This of course would be no problem for his son and heir, but Inu no Taishou had hoped that Inuyasha in Beta position would eventually be of great assistance to his older brother and use his humanity to bring more stability to the lands by understanding the humans who lived there. The General hoped that over time peace and acceptability would become the norm between the two peoples in the main. But if there was rivalry in the rulers with Alpha Youkai Inuyasha arguing with or second guessing his older brother, it could cause dissension, maybe even war.
Inu no Taishou had debated mentioning his plans to Inuyasha; on the one hand the lands and peoples were important, but so was his son. Would it be right to try and guilt the pup into abandoning his dreams for the good of his country? Perhaps though it would help Inuyasha come to terms with his own worth as a hanyou. As he was musing on his second son, Inu no Taishou noticed that his eldest has been quiet for a bit too long.
"Something still troubles you My Pup?"
"You made Inuyasha bleed Papa, you have never been that severe to me; why be cruel to him when you understood the jewel was influencing him?"
"You question me? Inuyasha understood, he hasn't asked you to question me."
"No Papa…I know you think it isn't my business; but…"
"Normally you would be right and I would not discuss what happens between me and My Pups; but you accuse me of cruelty."
"No. No I do not think you are cruel but…"
"I understand perfectly and I will explain this once. I deemed that Inuyasha had transgressed enough to warrant his punishment but he also needed a strong deterrent. You would never dream of going against my decrees once given, but Inuyasha would, given enough incentive. He does not see the danger or understand in the same way you do, his instincts are tempered and somewhat changed by his humanity."
"You drew blood though; I have never known you show such harshness to your children."
"Inuyasha also needed to face the reality that he could have been killed and I didn't want him brooding. A sharp shock was needed and I could of course have made him bleed on the first stroke, but I didn't, he is still young enough thankfully to react loudly and immediately and thereby not dwell for too long on dangerous thoughts."
"How do you know all of this Papa, I was ready to kill him for his stupidity?"
"I have more experience of pups than you do My Son; but I have to admit this time he frightened and greatly angered me. But remember Sesshoumaru, if you strike a child in fear or anger that is not discipline; it merely teaches him that you are stronger than he and a bully; I made sure that your brother knew why he was punished and he accepted the correction. And a word of warning for when you have your own pups, they learn very quickly if you are swayed by their tears and they will play on that, especially if they are anything like Inuyasha. Then they learn the wrong lesson."
"I would not be so easily fooled Papa."
"Probably you would not, so long as you are not excessive; Inuyasha is unharmed and in no way demeaned, and he has also recovered from his severe shock about the truth of the jewel. One of the other reasons I am so proud of you My Sesshoumaru, you did well this afternoon in recognising your brother's real need was for your personal reassurance."
"Inuyasha has then atoned for his transgressions now Papa?"
"Yes, but I doubt he will think so; I am curbing his freedom for the foreseeable future. He will have an escort daily and the older two hanyou will take over the day to day management of his lands. They are well suited to work together and will be perfect for the task and Inuyasha will only have the final say."
"He won't like that; he will think you feel he is incapable."
"Nevertheless it will be done. Inuyasha has had too much freedom in his life and too much insecurity in his heart. He has always been well loved but due to his unique circumstances, he has not had the consistent boundaries that children need. It is not too late for these to be effective and to eventually make him feel cared for on a deeper level. Sometimes though, it is hard to know just what is best for your pups My Son.
"How can he not know he is cared for Papa; that is ridiculous?" Sesshoumaru was aghast.
"Losing so much of his family to time has been traumatic and I wrongly allowed him to take control over his lands when he was upset…he was more than able, but really not mature enough. We have tried to reassure Inuyasha when he has felt inadequate, but with youkai understanding and it has not proved enough for his more sensitive human heart. At the moment he is almost like a baby that needs to feel the gentle swaddling to feel safe and that is what I will do with these restrictions; he will learn that he is safe."
Sesshoumaru thought his father was a bit overly dramatic likening Inuyasha to a baby in that way, but he could see the point that he was trying to make. He had often felt envious of the way Inuyasha had had such varied days, sometimes school, sometimes living at the farm or palace; even when often the circumstances were far from happy. Now though he could see that maybe there could have been some psychological problems connected with such drifting for his hanyou brother. After all, Inuyasha had been pulled from place to place and person to person while the rest of his family was permanently based; it was not too long a stretch to imagine he might have felt unwanted at times.
Out in the corridor the sounds of family were loud, Inuyasha had obviously had his bath and feeling rejuvenated, he was now chasing the others throughout the Royal Quarters. Suddenly Sesshoumaru felt free and throwing his carefully maintained decorum out of the window, he gave a roar and joined in. This added a new dimension to the chase and it ended up being taken outside into the more tolerant grounds and astonished all those who saw them, not the least The Lord and his Lady.
Things did not go according to plan on the following day, Inu no Taishou had a deputation from the South that he had to deal with and it was nightfall by the time he found his second son. Then as he noticed the black hair and violet eyes as they turned to him, the father knew he would have to rethink what he was to say; it didn't take long.
"How like Izayoi you are when you are human Inuyasha…a male version of course." He added smiling. Inuyasha returned the smile; being reminded of his human mother always brought a tender pang to his heart, but he was always pleased to remember her. "You still come to visit this little shrine My Son?"
"Yes Papa, not as regularly as I once did, but it is still important, not only to me either. Xing-Fu comes here now, he says he understands more and regrets what happened and the shrine gives him comfort."
"This is good news Inuyasha; coming to know you and your other hanyou friends has helped Xing to grow up and lose his prejudice. This will happen more and more the older you all get and you mark my words, when your friends are able to make their own decisions on guests, you will be invited more. You have an important role to play in helping others understand about hanyou."
"I still want to be full youkai Papa; you said…"
"I know and it will be your choice, but meanwhile you will learn more about diplomacy from your tutor as well as increase your time in the dojo; I have asked Sesshoumaru to practice with you for a couple of hours a day. Your school days will be reduced, but you will come back to the Palace to live; your friends will be quite welcome to stay in their holiday homes under the supervision of selected housekeepers, as will you, at holiday times only." Inu no Taishou decreed firmly, his stern expression vetoing immediately any outburst of protest from his son.
The father knew that Inuyasha wouldn't see the reason for such tough love at first; it would be counted an injustice and punishment more than he deserved. He fully expected a tantrum, but Inuyasha just looked away from his father.
"Sometimes my thoughts are too big and I can't catch them."
"Try to tell me My Son."
"A lot of the time I am happy being hanyou but sometimes it's the exact opposite; I get so confused." Inuyasha sighed and kicked a pebble before he shivered, his human frame suffering now from the evening chills of autumn. Inu no Taishou pulled Inuyasha to him, his arms draping round the shoulders of his son, offering his body warmth before drawing him away back towards the Palace. He pondered on the boy's words; Inuyasha was still young enough to find one emotion at a time could be all encompassing.
"It will ease as you grow My Pup; whatever you will be will be good and I have such plans for you and Sesshoumaru, one day I will tell you of them. For many years now I have had cause to be thankful that your youkai long ago accepted Sesshoumaru as your Alpha apart from me. The circumstances at the time of your birth were undoubtedly painful, but a lot of bad things can be turned around for the good." The General said cryptically.
"You are capable of great things, as a hanyou, Inuyasha; helping to bridge communities and peoples. It has already started; you have already made a difference to such perception as Xing-Fu and his father can testify. Your position as Prince of the West gives you high profile to help those others, Jinenji, Gyuoh, and Little Shiori and there are probably others who are of less exalted birth…I can't help but think that is your true destiny My Inuyasha."
"You don't want me to become full youkai, do you Papa?"
"To be honest with you My Son, no, I would rather you stay hanyou."
"You said you wouldn't stop me."
"And I won't, if there is a safe way found that guarantees you will be of sound mind and you still wanted to change."
"Would you still love me if I changed and you didn't want me to…would Shu hate me?"
"I can't imagine you doing anything at all that would make either of us hate you My Inuyasha; you are a special child to all of us, not just to Sesshoumaru."
"Well…I'm not looking for anything else just at the moment." Inuyasha said softly and his father's heart swelled with gratitude. So did the heart of one who remained hidden from his brother although not his father; Sesshoumaru had been worried that Inuyasha might be even more determined to find a way to change. He came out of the shadows to join his brother and father as they set off home and reassured Inuyasha that he too would never hate him, whatever.
The next fifty years or so were spent much as Inu no Taishou had outlined, Inuyasha learned diplomacy, and he learned how not to balk at his father's restrictions which were lifted only when he was invited to his friends' homes. The first time this happened was when Kouga especially invited him as a personal friend to the ceremony that was held when he finally became Prince of the Wolves for himself, and no longer needed a regent.
After that it seemed it became respectable to invite the hanyou to receptions as not only his friends would ask, but also others that Inuyasha didn't know. It was galling to him for a while, to be the fashionable guest, but he supposed that change would be slow; and he believed his father when he said that as Inuyasha became known for himself, it would get easier. His favourite times however were when he and Sesshoumaru would spar, and his brother would teach him.
It seemed that the pair were in a choreographed dance when they displayed their swordsmanship; they were not boring to watch as they were so different. Sesshoumaru was complete grace and flowing movements, whereas Inuyasha would bring the fire to his powerful shapes, the smaller hanyou darting quickly around his brother. They complemented each other perfectly and could hold their own when challenged in any tournament; so much so, that it didn't take long for their fame to spread.
All in all, they were happy days, Inuyasha felt more settled in his mind and heart than he had ever done before and when it was time for Sesshoumaru to take his Walk Alone, he could almost be happy for his brother. This was the ritual walk of adulthood for all heirs of the West; a time to become acquainted with his future lands and peoples and to prove to them that the West would be in good hands when his turn came to rule. Inuyasha out of all his siblings would miss Sesshoumaru the most, but Shu had promised him and their mother that he would be home in time for the birth of his new sister.
Inu no Taishou had a special gift for his son's Walk; Sesshoumaru was presented with Tenseiga and encouraged to learn how to use it properly. The sword was a mighty gift worthy of respect and once handed to his son, Inu no Taishou relinquished it forever; Sesshoumaru accepted it gracefully, acknowledging the trust his father had put in him and proved his maturity even more, as he made no mention or sneer that he would rather have had Tessaiga. And so, Sesshoumaru set off, along with the two headed dragon that had been his pet since he'd been a small pup and Jaken who couldn't bear to be left behind.
Every week, and then every day that passed Inuyasha would look out from the highest roof of the Palace to see if he could see his brother returning. He knew that nothing had happened to Shu because of the bond, although there had been a couple of times that had caused worry for him and his father, as it felt as though Sesshoumaru had been hurt, but he seemed to recover quickly. As The Lady was due to give birth very soon, Inuyasha knew that he would be seeing his brother again in the near future.
Then one afternoon, his patience was rewarded and after announcing that he'd seen Sesshoumaru in the distance, Inuyasha asked to go and meet his brother. Inu no Taishou said 'of course', and the boy positively flew out of the Palace and jumped over the wall, not waiting for the gates to be opened. He reached Sesshoumaru, nearly knocking him over in his excitement, but he received a hug for his troubles and a pet to his ears. Sesshoumaru looked his brother over and saw that the boy seemed to have grown although in essence he was still same.
Inuyasha noticed some changes immediately, namely a small human girl child about seven years old and a new sword that was secured next to Tenseiga. Sesshoumaru would say nothing about them, only that he had many things to explain; but he would say them when he met his parents and then he looked to his home and gave a sigh of relief and carried on walking, Inuyasha at his side.
After the evening banquet, given in honour of the successful Walk Alone for the heir it was time for the stories. Rin was introduced properly; she'd been bathed and fed before being presented and Bakusaiga was duly admired by a very proud Inu no Taishou. There were concerns of course as to the situation that had arisen in order for Sesshoumaru to feel pressed enough to cause his youkai to make the sword. But the father knew that for it to appear, it meant that his son had truly given up on Tessaiga and had relied on his own abilities and stood on his own feet and not relied on his father's strength to overcome his enemy.
As more stories were told in front of the fire, Sesshoumaru spoke of youkai whom he fought and vanquished; Inuyasha knew there were many more yet to tell. He listened with his eyes glowing with pride in his brother, before it was bedtime when he dreamed contentedly about the day when he too would stand next to Sesshoumaru and defend their land and people. They would make more stories to tell to their pups, joined by an unbreakable bond of brotherhood by their youkai and their blood; they would be undefeatable.
I'm sorry this has been a long time coming, but I wanted to make sure this truly was the end. It was always going to end at this point, even though I had only envisaged ten or so chapters at the beginning. Thank you for staying with me and encouraging me greatly with your reviews, I treasure all of them. Now I am going to continue with refreshing my old stories; if you'd like to follow them, I am writing the updates on my profile page. At the moment I have reached chapter 21 of my story All Our Hopes. It is a brotherly fic as usual, with canon couples and I would as always welcome your thoughts and reviews. Sue