A/N: Same stuff. Not mine, only borrowing them for fun and putting them back. :) Uncensored version will be up at adultfanfic and y-gallery in a day or so... or later tonight...

Bastard's Gift 19

Sesshomaru paced in his room as the day of the council drew near. They had arrived without incident, and from what he knew, the wolves were being kept on the other side, thus avoiding any confrontation.

The next day they would stand before the demon council, something that he would someday be part of.

He did not care for most of the council, but only one member agitated him and made him nervous.

He would do his best to not show any bit of feeling once he faced her.

Unfortunately, it seemed she was determined not to let him wait for long.

A quick knock at the door and a servant opened it. "The Lady Inu to see you," was all he said as an introduction.

Sesshomaru composed himself fast enough to hide the look of distaste that crossed his face.

"Lady Mother," he said, without the disdain he felt.

"Oh, my troublesome son!" His mother cooed. "Why must you only come see this princess when you need something?" she said.

She reached out as if to embrace him before stopping and holding out her hand.

With an inward sigh, Sesshomaru knelt before her and kissed the top of her hand.

She pulled her hand away and made her way to the window.

"Why do you feel the need to torment your bearer?" she asked.

"This one does not understand."

"The hanyou."

Sesshomaru stiffened. Seems she was going to directly discuss what he was nervous about.

"What about Inuyasha?"

"Hmph. Your father cared not for decorum and failed to uphold his marital oaths by showing blatant disrespect to this one."

"This one has heard you cavorted with many young inu during your stay at the castle."

"But there are no bastard children from those frivolous indiscretions. And this one never would have soiled her bed with human stench and bore a misshapen ugly hanyou. Do you see this face? It is a face of perfection."

"The Lady Mother is a vain creature."

"And with every right, ungrateful prince."

"Inuyasha is not misshapen."

"This one will not believe until proof is seen. It is common knowledge that hanyous are disgusting and foul creatures that should be culled before birth."

Sesshomaru held onto his temper. He had no right to react in anger. His feelings were the same several years ago, and her belief was similar to the one he had about Naraku's son.

"This one will still seek approval to become sole protector and possible mate to Inuyasha, son of the great Inu no Taisho."

"Oh, why do the heavens punish this former queen with a misguided son!" his mother wailed, dropping herself to one of the chairs near the window. "Such promise wasted."

Sesshomaru had a hard time taking her words and actions seriously when she alternated between being cold and aloof to overdramatic.

"This one will not easily grant such request," she stated, standing up and looking firm. "This princess will need to see the hanyou. A hanyou that…"

"That is a bearer."

"A lose bearer! Seeking no form of compensation. Isn't he on his second born? Son of another hanyou and son of a cave dweller. Obviously he has no respect for his miserable self and has only now come to the conclusion of seeking a better life by seeking your attention. Just like that human wench your father went after."

"Enough!" Sesshomaru snapped. "Do not speak anymore of Inuyasha if you will make no effort in knowing him first."

"Well!" His mother stared at him with wide eyes. "You certainly seem to think highly of yourself. Banishing the female that spent months with you in her womb back to her home once you came of age just to gain control of the castle. And now you raise your voice? What next? A physical challenge? Why don't you just beat this one with a stick like a common dog?" She began to mock weep again.

Sesshomaru sighed. "This one will make his own decisions. There is no changing of that. A fair hearing is all that is requested."

The lady let out an irritated sigh as she stopped shedding tears. "Fine. This one will not vote in your favor because you are of blood. But a fair hearing will be granted and a decision will be made. And do expect to see this one at the castle."

"Yes, my lady."

She glided out of his room, allowing him to sigh in relief. At least she had told him she would listen to his request and not deny it outright.

X

Arashi couldn't sleep in the bed provided. It was much too soft compared to the caves. Not to mention, each time he thought he was falling asleep, he swore he kept hearing whispering.

"Attack," he would hear. "Attack if it is not in your favor."

His body was drenched in sweat and pain wracked his body in waves. Not completely unbearable but enough to drive him mad because it just wouldn't stop. He found himself wanting to strike out at all who approached him. He wanted to see blood. He wanted it all to go in his favor so that he had Inuyasha in his grasp and show that stupid hanyou his place.

He was starting to dream rather vivid dreams of dominating the hanyou, and it made his blood burn with desire.

He wanted to see a look of desolation and complete dependency upon him. He wanted to keep him fat with pups and rub it in that stupid Inu's face. Build an army and when Sesshomaru least expected it destroy the kingdom of that pompous dog.

On the back of his neck, the little spider mark was more than halfway up.

X

Naraku opened his eyes and chuckled to himself. It seemed his little creature was doing its job and providing a link to the dark wolf's mind. How easy it was to turn his desires into complete obsession. No matter the outcome, the wolf was going to be doing his damn best to get what he wanted.

And to add fuel to the fire, Naraku was able to feed his memories of Inuyasha when he lay broken before him.

The lust that came from those visions excited the wolf.

Arashi needed to be eliminated, but at least he was going to have some fun with it before it happened.

X

Kohaku continued to sneak through all smaller openings he could find, locating each of the council members and attempting to find the wolves. He knew their general location, but he wanted to make sure he would be able to spy on them.

Sesshomaru have given no real orders to do this, but he knew that Arashi was shady and would probably try to do some underhanded things.

Any knowledge of plans would be a way of defense for Sesshomaru.

Several minutes later, he had his success.

He located Arashi's chambers and observed him for a moment. He had thought the wolf was having some type of nightmare from the way he was thrashing, but then he noticed evidence of lust.

Kohaku sneered and moved away. He was not about to watch anything like that. But at least he knew where Arashi was staying and he would return early morning and each time he knew that the wolf was retiring to this section.

Any discussions that he had with his subordinates, if they managed to meet up, would be heard, and Kohaku would report to Sesshomaru.

X

His father stank of his uncle. It burned his nose.

But he didn't want to stay too far away from his father, so he put up with it.

Especially since his poor father was obviously bored out of his mind.

He had taken into learning knitting.

Knitting!

Of course it was a bit amusing to see him knit phrases that were rather crude into the pillow cases that now adorned Sesshomaru's bed. But still… He knew his father would rather be running free in the woods, practicing with swords and mock battles.

He was really hoping that the baby would come soon so his father can go back to being normal.

He smiled to himself at that thought as he continued to read one of the scrolls that Sesshomaru had left for him to learn. There really were a lot of crazy rules and laws each kingdom had, but almost all of them left themselves some type of loop hole.

Ways to escape justice in his opinion.

But that also allowed, should enemies come across these laws and study them carefully, a way to work past their political defenses.

The wolves were a prime example.

There was one interesting fact that peeked his interest. Too bad there wasn't a definite way to exploit it.

X

Sesshomaru was up before the sun was. Although the bed was fit for royalty, he was away from his lands and he felt out of place. Sleeping out in the wilderness was more comfortable than what he was feeling at the moment. Not to mention, in such a short time, he realized that he missed having a warm presence by his side.

He couldn't help but wonder how Inuyasha was faring and if the black haired brat was reading any of the scrolls he had been instructed to read.

He could hear his guards outside his room, but they were not his men. They were assigned by the council and to refuse them meant offending the council. But he was not daft and he was not going to be completely dependent upon the council. That was why he selected Kohaku as one of his drivers. Being human, and dressing in his colors, demons would assume he was just a servant.

They only seemed to recognize him when he wore his demon slayer outfit.

To the demons, all human looked too similar to bother differentiating between them. How careless.

It gave Kohaku free reign. He was now free to spy on others and report their movements to Sesshomaru in the early evenings and mornings.

There was a knock at his door. Looking out the window, he could see the faint glow of the sun getting ready to rise.

"Enter," he said.

Kohaku stepped in, bowing low before closing the door, putting on a show to the guards stationed outside his room.

He made his way to the wardrobe cabinet and began pulling out the clothing he would be wearing.

"All seems to be quiet," Kohaku said softly. "The wolf demon Arashi is having trouble adjusting to the rooms and seems to be the only one holding a true grudge against you, Lord Sesshomaru, and your brother. The ones who accompanied him are his soldiers; however they are staying in the barracks with the council's guards and are not allowed to approach him. He has been designated a servant to help prepare for the council by the council themselves."

He had made the right choice in disguising Kohaku. The only one who might recognize him would be his mother, but knowing her, she would actually be amused by the deceit and keep it silent.

Kohaku helped with the garments in case the guards entered without sufficient warning.

Sesshomaru nodded and looked out to the sky once more. There was still time. Maybe he could discuss something else that had been plaguing his mind since the healer Chie told him of Rin's human cycle.

"Rin is of marrying age," he began, noticing how Kohaku stumbled in his actions for a moment. The young human male did not look up at him, but the tips of his ears were red. "But she is still young and in training."

Kohaku slowed down his actions and looked up at him, confused, and a bit suspicious.

"You have been of an appropriate marrying age for a few years now."

"Yes, my lord."

"Did your family marry you young?"

"I would have been married off young since my father was of wealthy status, if he was strict about human rules. My sister Sango would have been married too but because of the constant war with demons, he had decided to allow her to find and choose her husband. Being his son, I probably would have not been given that exact same choice, but he would not have pushed for me to marry so young. But some of the other villagers could only be married if the wife's family could pay a dowry and the male was able to provide for a family."

"Tamotsu claims you have been investing the payments and gifts you have received."

"Yes, sir."

"This one has also heard that you have been building a house on the land you received as payment for your service."

"Yes, my lord."

"Take the time to make sure it is adequate before considering moving in."

"Yes, my lord."

"And take your time getting to know human girls before you make a choice."

"No!"

Sesshomaru raised an eyebrow.

"I mean, that is not necessary, sir."

Sesshomaru remained silent.

Kohaku stared up at him. "My heart beats only for one person."

Sesshomaru let out a small sigh. "Smart answer."

There was a knock on the door and one of the guards entered as well as a servant carrying a tray.

"Lord Sesshomaru, your morning meal. The council is currently congregating in the Main Hall and will send an escort over when you are ready. If you wish to have your servant close, he will be permitted to seat himself in the designated section."

Sesshomaru nodded once.

The guard retreated and closed the door.

The inu demon looked at Kohaku.

"I will remain alert, my lord."

X

Arashi hated to admit that he was feeling a bit overwhelmed as he stepped into the main hall. He had seen Sesshomaru's audience chamber, and he had thought that it was extravagant.

This was beyond that.

He wished for his caves. He wished for his men. He hated not having any of them at his side.

At least the same was expected of Sesshomaru.

He did his best to not gawk, but he couldn't help look around. The ceilings were high with painted scenes. Chandeliers of gold hung every few yards with hundreds of candles lighting them. Marble pillars were connected by beautiful crafted arches.

And as he entered the chamber, he could see the wooden podiums he and Sesshomaru would be standing on, raised above ground but still considerable lower than the high podium in which the council members were currently seated at, looking down at them.

He stopped short at the sight of one of them.

He had forgotten that one of them was the bitch that birthed Sesshomaru.

She will turn them all against you, he could hear a voice whisper in his mind. Maybe it would be best to strike Lord Sesshomaru when he least expects it. And then attack the council members.

"Approaching the council, the wolf alpha, Lord Arashi of the Northern Tribe."

He walked up the steps onto the podium. He looked to his right and could see Sesshomaru entering. He was almost pleased at the thought of arriving before the dog demon, but that moment of pleasure was spoiled at how Sesshomaru strode in with that stone face of his. Such wondrous looking architecture and he didn't even bother to admire it.

Pompous dog, completely use to all finery that nothing fazed him.

"Approaching the council, Son of the Great Inu Taisho, Son of the Lady of the West, Lord Sesshomaru, current ruler and protector of the Western lands."

Even the introduction was more elaborate than his despite the fact that they only named the titles of Sesshomaru's parentage. Just everything about the inu lord was maddening.

One of the council members stood up. "It has been a great long while that we were called to handle personal affairs in a diplomatic stage. But both sides have allies that are willing to move forward to help and we wish to keep another demon war from rising. Lord Arashi, as the one filling for grievance, please state your claim."

"Council, as new alpha to the wolf tribe, I am entitled to everything the previous alpha owned. Thus I own the clan, its members, and any offspring and mates that were his. It has always been this way. Sesshomaru refuses to give up his brother who was mate and bearer to Kouga and refuses to see reason. He denies the previous existence to a treaty amongst the wolves."

The council men looked to one another. "We know of no treaty existing between the dog demons and the wolves," said another.

Arashi reared back in surprise. "But…"

"Lord Sesshomaru. Does a treaty exist?"

"No."

"He lies! He and Kouga shared one!"

"Lord Sesshomaru?"

"A truce rested between Lord Kouga and this one as Inuyasha chose to follow Kouga to his lands to be courted as a potential mate. The protection offered was towards Inuyasha, and through him, to his current clan. Kouga recognized this act as something temporary and despite this one's displeasure of Inuyasha's choice, Kouga sought an assurance that the clans would remain in amicable terms as he continued to court the young inu and while in battle with Naraku."

"Ah, yes. The half demon causing problems through most of the lands. None of the lords have filed grievances so for the moment, this still is a personal battle, is that correct?"

"It will become a war if he is not stopped."

Arashi mentally sneered. Naraku seemed to only be targeting Sesshomaru. He had already taken care of Kouga and was slowly whittling down his enemies. Ideally, he should have also gone after Naraku as a form of revenge for defeating their leader, but Arashi wanted Sesshomaru gone and so he would have to wait until Naraku defeated Sesshomaru.

But then again… if nothing went his way here, he would just have to start a war with Sesshomaru in hopes that Naraku would use him as an ally. Then each could go their separate ways.

"Well, until the other lords show interest, we cannot force alliances to move forward. Lord Arashi, do you have any other grievances?"

"He has almost half my clan under his rule."

"Lord Sesshomaru, you have heard his claims. While we know you have not taken his members, we understand that Lord Inuyasha, former mate to Kouga, bearer of one cub with a second due soon, is currently in your possession?"

"Incorrect."

"Pardon?"

"He sought sanctuary and this one granted it, as requested in a written document provided to me by the wolves loyal to Lord Kouga and his mate Inuyasha. Those wolves also chose to remain on Inu land, declaring themselves protector of their fallen's leader mate and equal."

The council looked at each other again.

"Equal?" said the bitch that resembled Sesshomaru. "Do wolves accept mates as equals?"

Arashi scoffed. "No, Council. A mate is submissive to the alpha and only dominates over the clan when the alpha cannot. When a new alpha rises, the former mate is either to be mate to the new alpha or discarded at the alpha's discretion. The hanyou ran before I could enforce my desire to be his dominant."

"Then by wolf law Inuyasha should be released to his care. Do we misunderstand?"

"No."

"Lord Sesshomaru?"

"Kouga's written request freed Inuyasha from pack law as he is son of the Inu no Taisho, and this one's only family member capable of producing heirs."

"The council recognizes that as a valid argument," said another member. "What of the offspring being mentioned?"

"Kouga accepted the cub Inuyasha bore as a ward, making him a member of the pack. And Inuyasha is to have a cub borne of Kouga's blood, thus making them both mine."

"The ward in question bares the mark of an Inu member, a crescent moon upon his brow."

"What?" The council members turned to stare at the inu demon amongst them and she waved her hand, her face hardening. It seemed despite being his mother, she knew nothing of her son's actions. Maybe this would work in his favor.

"Bearer of this mark proves that he is an Inu, and by our laws, must remain with pack until deemed worthy to seek his own path."

"But there is still the question of Inuyasha and the unborn cub. By pack law they belong to the Northern tribe, but by Lord Kouga's words, he has freed them from those rules."

"Without consulting our council, Great Council," Arashi interjected.

"Lord Sesshomaru, do you have anything else to add?"

"Inu yokai are free in nature and refuse to be tied down if there are no feelings of loyalty. This one knows that his previous actions towards Inuyasha were not family oriented and is only currently making reconciliations towards the prodigal brother. While Lord Kouga requested this one to provide a safe haven, it is Lord Inuyasha's choice to stay or go. It was also his desire to keep his unborn pup safe by allowing this one to seal a blood oath of accepting the pup as a ward."

"What?!" This time, both Arashi and the female demon shouted in disbelief.

The rest of the council looked at his, suspicion in their eyes. "First a human ward, and then the offspring of your hanyou brother. Lord Sesshomaru, you have been following your own path vastly different than what is deemed normal and proper. We shall discuss what we have heard and resume a meeting tomorrow in the noon with our decisions. Expect individual meetings throughout the day."

Sesshomaru bowed and turned to leave, head held high, as Arashi slunk out of his podium into the opposite direction. Up above, Kohaku left his seat to attend his lord.

X

Kohaku had already gone off to spy on Arashi and any potential visits he received from the council when his mother pushed in unannounced.

"The crescent mark? He bares the mark of my clan?!"

Oh, his mother's composure was broken.

"The hanyou's son bares the mark of a moon."

"How is that possible! The hanyou doesn't have the mark does he?"

"No."

"Then you have to be lying. Naraku is not of our blood and your brother does not have the mark!"

"Neither did father, but you are cousins, and both of you had fathers with the mark. The trait apparently passed down, hidden, to Inuyasha."

"White or dark hair?"

"Dark."

"Our blood, soiled by a dark haired beast?! The outrage! Isn't he three quarters human now? You should have killed it when it was born!"

"That was not my choice. At the time, Inuyasha was under the protection of Kouga. And he had come to care for him despite the hate he has for Naraku."

His mother let out a huff. "This princess has come from beautiful blood. Now it grows tainted."

Sesshomaru glared at her. "Do not make judgments without seeking Inuyasha and his son first. This one has made the error in seeking harm against his brother in youth, and as a result, lost a chance of keeping my lineage mostly pure when Inuyasha was faced with choosing me or the cave dweller, as you put it. The son he bore, while he resembles Naraku, is not a hideous beast. Inuyasha has grown more and more noble in looks and actions as the years have passed. He will most likely continue to produce strong and beautiful children."

"I'll believe that when I see it. I'll see the hanyou. After the pup has been born. He may be no lady but it is such disrespect to be introduced when one is so swollen. Why, I refused company as soon as my normal dresses and kimonos no longer fit me. And even then I waited a month after your birth."

Sesshomaru refrained from rolling his eyes.

"The other council members will seek you out. Tomorrow morning we will discuss our decision. Sleep well. I expect you to remain professional."

With those words, the lady left his room.

Sesshomaru felt exhausted.

X

Kohaku listened in with interest.

He had been worried that the council men would favor Arashi because it would be a way to undermine Sesshomaru, not to mention, he knew how much the Lady Inu disliked humans.

But so far, it seemed as if they were remaining neutral as they asked specific questions about how Inuyasha became the mate to Kouga, what rituals did they go through, what had been discussed in meetings. Half the time, Arashi had no real answers, stammering out whatever he had to say and sounding more like petulant child than a real leader.

And it was obvious how he tried to get in the Lady Inu's good graces attempting to flatter her and talk ill of Inuyasha.

That backfired quickly.

"If the hanyou is as wretched as you claim and unworthy of my son, why do you seek him?"

"Uh, well, Kouga had chosen him…"

"So your former leader sought lower forms as mates? Why not seek one better than him?"

"Well, my clan, most of the old ones, seem to pity the hanyou, and… uh…"

Kohaku rolled his eyes as did Lady Inu.

"This one grows tired of the conversation. The council will still take into account your arguments and make a decision for tomorrow."

After she left, Arashi muttered obscene names for her before settling down to take a nap. Kohaku moved back and decided it was a good time to take a break his watch and get something to eat.

X

Inuyasha combed out Katsutoshi's hair as his son continued reading whatever scroll Sesshomaru had left for him.

"Is it an interesting read?"

"Mm hm," he responded.

"I'm a bit surprised Sesshomaru allowed you to read all of these. They look pretty valuable. So you better make sure to not damage them."

"I'll be careful. I don't want to lose permission to continue reading these."

Inuyasha couldn't help but smile. The tension between the two was obvious, but with Sesshomaru taking such a direct hand at educating his son, he knew that he had at least acknowledged his boy instead of ignoring him like before. He could have left Katsu completely to his own devices, but with Tamotsu and Jaken, and now the scrolls, Katsu was learning the ways of the Inu and how to care for himself for when the day arrives that he could go off on his own journey.

He let out a small grunt as he was once more kicked along the ribs.

Katsu turned to face him.

"Is the baby hurting you, poppa?"

"Almost as much as you used to hurt me."

Katsu frowned. "I hurt you?"

Inuyasha smiled and ran his hand through Katsu's now silky hair. "Yes and no. Yes because it kind of knocks the breath away from me, but no, because it told me that you were alive and moving, which makes me really happy."

Come to me tonight, Katsu heard his sire whisper in his mind.

He continued to smile, not betraying the sudden surprise he felt at the intrusion.

"I'm glad you're happy, Poppa," Katsu responded, giving his father a smile.

X

Naraku hoisted the carcass of the boar into the trees, listening for the ambling walk of a large demon seeking out the stench of blood. By the time night fall fell, he would be near the clearing that he normally met his offspring.

It was another surprise test, to see how much his son had learned, and to see how powerful he had gotten.

X

Sesshomaru wasn't one to dream, especially when he could not sleep well.

But this time around, he was in a strange half state in which he knew he was almost asleep, but the hazy vision in front of him was not what he should be seeing.

Kouga stood in front of him, saying something.

But he couldn't see his face clearly.

The wolf faded away and Sesshomaru's eyes finally cracked open to see that he was alone in the room. A message was being given, and he couldn't see what it was. Or had it been a waking dream? But if it was a visit from the other world, he could only hope that Kouga would try again.

He was not going to easily dismiss such a thought. After all, if his sword cut through the spirits that carried the dead away, wouldn't its presence allow him to see other spirits of the dead?

He hoped the next time he saw Kouga's spirit, he was near his sword to make his appearance clearer.

X

Katsu waited until his father tucked him in and gave him a kiss goodnight. He felt a bit guilty about pretending to be asleep so that his father wouldn't make the suggestion to have him sleep in one bed. It was best to take a "nap" and stay asleep in his own room.

But just in case his father sent a servant, or himself to check on him, he already had the preparations to create a doll to leave in his place.

After hearing the door to his chambers close, Katsu created his doll and had it take his place on his bed. He then went out the window, climbing down like he had been recently doing. He knew where the guards were and how much time he had left before they made their rounds once more.

By the time the guards were turning the corner that would make his window visible, he was in the trees, waiting for them to be far enough to make his way to his secret exit.

He was rather annoyed that now of all times his sire called him out. Several days with no one but his father utterly interrupted.

When he finally made it to the forest, he quickly used the trees as a means of traveling and cover. But as he got closer to his destination, he did notice a foul smell. Rotting flesh and some of it was on the branches of the trees.

And it looked like something large had trampled through the vegetation.

His heart began to pound as his hopes soared. Was this going to be a real challenge? After all, he had only dealt with mindless demons that were only a bit bigger than him. This much damage meant this thing was probably bigger than Naraku or Sesshomaru.

X

Naraku watched as the beast in front of him devoured the carcass in a savage way within seconds. The moon was high enough that he knew Katsutoshi should be near. But from where would the brat show? Being upwind, Naraku could smell the stench that the ogre like demon produced. It also meant that he would be upwind of where Katsu would be coming from. But he had yet to smell the child, which meant the ogre demon hadn't caught a scent of him either.

But he did feel a slight flicker of power suddenly emenating from deep within the forest. It was small, and if it weren't for the fact that he was alert, he wouldn't have noticed it. The large demon didn't stop so either he didn't notice it or didn't care because the flicker was so small and seemingly insignificant.

A small bit of movement caught his attention as he looked upwards.

There.

In the trees.

Naraku grinned as he spotted his small clone watching to ogre from above, his small sword already out in his hand, face without emotion. Just a bit too much like Inuyasha's full blooded demon brother.

Was he going to wait for the right time to attack?

To his dismay, since he was the type to sit back and consider all consequences before attacking, Katsutoshi dropped to the ground and stepped forward, just like his father, Inuyasha.

Naraku got ready to step in. While under normal circumstances he would be willing to let a fool hardy demon get killed for stepping into a fight without thinking, his son was proving to be powerful day by day. It would be a waste of time to let him get killed so early in the game because he wasn't thinking and loosing the chance to absorb all the power the kid was earning.

The ogre still hadn't noticed him, or Naraku, and the dark haired half demon prepared to release his toxic miasma and melt the creature.

A large pulse of power stunned him and the ogre.

Katsutoshi stood there, eyes glowing red, as waves of demonic power pushed out, demanding attention.

Sleeping birds were now awake and took off into the air in panic, as small animals fled the area.

The ogre stopped eating and turned to face Katsutoshi.

"A tiny demon," it growled. "More food."

"Foolish demon," said Katsu. "Soon to be dead."

Naraku watched as Katsu launched himself at the ogre with speed that impressed him. How long has the little one been hiding this particular skill?

Katsu practically ran up the ogre's torso and swung out his sword, slicing a deep gash across the demon's face, from cheek to cheek, across his nose.

The ogre howled and reeled back as Katsu leapt off the demon's chest. "Too low," he muttered, before preparing himself for another run.

Naraku held back wanting to see how this fight was going to play out.

The demon wasn't one of the brighter ones, but it was large and tough for any typical demon. And while he knew that even Inuyasha would have no problems fighting a dim witted creature, it would still create problems due to its size ratio over its opponent.

Katsutoshi, on the other hand, had never dealt with a demon this size and it was entertaining to see what methods he decided on using.

The ogre picked up a fallen log and began to swing it around, shouting in outrage over the pain of having its face sliced open.

"I'll pound you to the ground!" he howled.

Katsutoshi jumped back several paces and waited as the ogre stopped swinging. The demon, seeing where Katsutoshi had stopped, raised the trunk over his head.

Katsu ran forward and slid between the demon's legs as the ogre began to swing forward. Standing up quickly, he managed to grasp the edge of the trunk as it left the ground and held on as it swung over the ogre's head. As it reached its highest point, he let go, using the bark to jump upwards.

The trunk hit the ground with a thud as the ogre looked upwards to see where Katsutoshi had gone.

The young demon came down fast, sword out.

Another howl filled the air as hands reached up to clasp over an injured eye as Katsutoshi yanked out his sword, balancing himself on the ogre's shoulders while using the little bit of hair it has as an anchor to hold on. He then thrust his sword into the neck of the ogre and pulled outwards, disrupting the shriek into a gurgle as blood sprayed out.

The large demon collapsed as Katsutoshi landed on the ground, breathing heavy.

Naraku gave him a moment before stepping out, applauding softly.

"Well done, Katsutoshi. I am a bit surprised that you attacked him so openly. But well done."

Katsutoshi looked up at him.

"When I realized you were out there watching, I knew I was going to have to do something quickly. But it was a dumb demon. It seemed more like a heavy training exercise than a test."

"You knew I was watching?"

"I circled around the area after coating myself with dirt and vegetation. Once I found where you were, I realized that you weren't going to help but just watch. That is when I decided to battle him announcing my presence."

Naraku threw back his head and laughed. "You make your sire proud," he said with evil mirth. And I can't wait until you reach your peak so I can take it!

X

Morning came too quick for Sesshomaru and Arashi alike, although both of them behaved differently.

Arashi paced around his room, wishing he had something to tear into to get rid of his nerves.

Sesshomaru went through his typical paces with Kohaku assisting him.

Around noon, they were both summoned to the Great Hall.

As they both settled into their podiums, the demon council entered and took their seats.

"The council has reached a decision. Due to the complexity of this nature, we have come to the best possible compromise. Should the offspring of Kouga be born a male, and because Arashi is currently the alpha of the wolf tribe, he shall be entrusted to his father and Lord Sesshomaru until he is of age, at which it will be up to him to challenge Arashi, or the current alpha for his rightful place.

"Should the offspring be born a bearer, be it female, or male like his father, the child shall be returned to the tribe once it is no longer dependent upon his father so that it may be raised in the ways of the wolf to become a proper mate to the alpha. Are both parties upon agreement."

Arashi snarled to himself. He supposed this was better than nothing, and he could only hope that it was a female born. There was still the chance that either Inuyasha would rather follow his daughter then let her go alone. But there was also the chance that he would refuse forcing Arashi to rightfully claim war.

Sesshomaru, on the other hand, was concerned. Having another male born from Inuyasha would, again, bring the complications that he chose to become to ward to a male rather than produce his own heir. But to have a female… Inuyasha would face heartbreak sooner. He could only hope that Koga's genes were strong enough to produce a male otherwise he would visit the wolf in the netherworld and beat him into submission.

"As for the former ward of Kouga, the custody remains to Lord Inuyasha and Lord Sesshomaru as he bares the mark of the Inu clan and thus must be raised in the Inu ways. The departed Lord Kouga's claim over him is void and is unnecessary for the wolf clan to continue supporting the child."

A scroll was handed to each of them, and what the council had chosen was written in gold ink.

"Should circumstance occur that render this contract void, another meeting shall take place unless both parties determine to make their own decisions so long as it does not affect the other nations."

Arashi let out a growl as he turned and stalked away from the podium. Either way, he would have to wait until the birth of the cub which was due any week now.

But just in case, he would prepare for war.

Sesshomaru, on the other hand, still remained poised, refusing to show the wave of uncertainties that ran through him. This was all up to chance and fate. There was nothing he could do to sway the outcome in his favor. It all depended on what Inuyasha and Kouga had.

Just as fate had Katsutoshi born with an Inu mark, fate would determine the fate of the unborn cub.

His biggest concern, however, was going to be Inuyasha's response to the news.

It was best that he return as quickly as possible.

X

"I don't care what they said; I can't give up my pup!" Inuyasha cried out as he threw whatever he could grab across the room.

Sesshomaru sat on the bed, looking calm. His clenched hands, however, gave him away in showing how agitated he really was.

"We will reason with the wolf no matter what happens, brother."

"Sesshomaru… he only does this to spite me. I know it. You know it. He's almost as bad as Naraku."

Sesshomaru stood up as Inuyasha stopped throwing items and stood there trembling, fighting to hold back the tears that threatened to fall down his face.

He moved forward and pulled his brother into an embrace, and judging by the sudden tension in his brother's body, surprising him by that action.

"We will triumph one way or another."

Inuyasha sighed as his hands came up to clench his brother's robes.

"Inuyasha?"

"Yes?"

"What happened to my pillows?"

X

Two weeks had passed since the council meeting, and Inuyasha showed no signs of giving birth yet. He was miserable both because of his size and because of not knowing what he was going to have. He had been so excited about Kouga's offspring, and now that excitement was tainted with fear.

Chie was also acting more nervous than usual, snapping at all helpers and giving Inuyasha these worried looks that only upset him even more.

Sesshomaru had taken to either being locked in his study, with Katsutoshi as silent company, pouring through documents or at Inuyasha's side, providing company.

What had been an upcoming happy event was quickly turning into something everyone was dreading.

Katsu paced in front of his sire, not caring for the lesson at the moment.

"I want my sibling born now so we can at least know what is going to happen. Stupid wolves."

"You really shouldn't care."

"Why not?" Katsutoshi felt a wave of anger at such a disregard for something that was going to be coming out of his beautiful father.

"A second child means favorites will begin."

"What?"

"You have been the only one in your father's eyes. But now with a second child, you will be cast aside and forgotten."

"Nonsense."

"Why do you think tales of how your uncle treated your father exist? He was born between two demons that did not love each other, such as you were born from your father and me. But at least his father cared for him just as I take the time to train you as they do not. But when Inuyasha's father found a woman he loved, even though she was woman, well, your uncle was forgotten. Your future sibling comes from Kouga, a demon your father loved. He, or she, will be more special to him. And you will be cast into the background, just like Sesshomaru was."

"Father will never do that!"

Katsutoshi said the words with force and conviction. But… what if his sire was telling the truth? He never thought about it before. He always felt that something coming from his father would be precious. But what if it stole all the attention from his father?

He wasn't too sure if he wanted a brother or sister anymore. He didn't want to become obsolete in his father's life.

X

Depending on who one spoke to, time was going either extremely slow or extremely fast. Another week had gone by, and Sesshomaru was receiving correspondence from the wolves wanting to know what the child was.

But being that the child still had not arrived, it was irritating to say the least.

They had been worried, but both Inuyasha and Chie were there to say that the child was still healthy, kicking up a storm.

To Inuyasha, the days just crawled by. Fears about what would happen after the birth were slowly giving way to desperation. "I want this pup out!" he would say when he was feeling particularly irritated.

Rin and Kohaku had even made themselves as sparse as possible to avoid hearing Inuyasha's tantrums.

But for Chie, time was going too fast. She had a secret she had not shared with Lord Sesshomaru, and rolling into the new week, she would have no choice but to share it. Being so preoccupied with this cub who refused to be born, they were not realizing the danger Inuyasha would soon be in.

Looking at the calendar, she had no choice. She had to prepare Sesshomaru now.

X

"Healer Chie," Sesshomaru said in way of greeting.

"Lord… I have news I need to share with you."

"Is there something wrong with the pup?"

Chie shook her head. "There is nothing wrong with the pup, Lord Sesshomaru. But there is a danger Inuyasha will be finding himself in soon."

"What do you mean?"

"I know of half demons and their period in which they become human for a day or for a night. And based on my calendar, I know Inuyasha's time falls near. We need to be ready for the worst possible case."

"This one does not understand what you are trying to say." A touch of concern rested in his voice.

"My son. The one I lost due to birth complications. My lord… he was a half breed!"

X

It took a candle mark for the healer to calm down enough to share her tale. And it bothered Sesshomaru.

It seemed in the middle of his human day, her son had gone into labor. Being a male, the only option was to cut him open. But being human meant she had no real knowledge of slowing down the bleeding for him to heal since humans healed slower than demons. And during that time, relationships with human villagers were still not well. As for the father of her son… well, he had already passed on to the next life.

She had tried to keep him calm in hopes that he would transform back into his hanyou self before the babe was born. However, desperation drove the infant to begin tearing its own way out. With no choice, she cut her own son open with her claws and pulled out the child.

Her son, despite the pain, smiled at the sight of his infant before the light in his eyes dimmed, and he faded away fast.

Without the connection to his father, the infant refused to eat and passed away too within days. Chie couldn't mourn the death of her son until after she sought out the sire and his wench and enacted her revenge. It was afterwards that guilt settled in her of her lack of knowledge. In all her time, after having had a moment of indiscretion with a friendly and attractive human and giving birth to a hanyou son, she never took the time to learn about humans. Any time that her son had gotten sick, he became better once he transformed. Never did it occur to her that he would die as a human due to a medical injury that could have been helped.

Still… that fear of failure…

"We have human healers, but the risk is still great. I dare not try bringing in the pup before it is ready. It weakens its resolve."

Sesshomaru thought carefully. "We will be cautious. Bring in a human healer of your choice to help monitor Inuyasha in case the worst scenario occurs. Rin will be wanting to be part of it, but we will still need extra help in case it proves too much for her."

Chie nodded, still looking concerned.

Sesshomaru watched as she left, unease growing in him, a feeling that was unusual to him. He hated it.

X

Arashi was growling to himself as he paced in his private den. Three weeks have gone by since the supposed due date and the damn pup still hadn't been born. It was as if Inuyasha were doing everything possible to delay the birth of it.

But no matter, he would get what he wanted in the end.

Male or female, he would fight to see both brothers on their knees in defeat.

You should go to them. You should wait and watch. Maybe they are lying. And if they are not… at least you will see for yourself and make sure that they do not lie to you.

The same thoughts that have been circling around in his head kept coming back. His eyes flashed as he thought about it. Had he been ignoring them because the council had made the demand, and there was no way Sesshomaru would blatantly disregard it.

However, what if he found a loop hole of some sort? Better to go see and avoid Sesshomaru make any attempts to hide or change what was the truth.

Maybe it was best to train a small group of his more loyal followers and head off to the Western castle.

X

Inuyasha watched in misery as the sun touched the horizon. He could feel the change threatening to begin as he felt even more tired.

Katsutoshi had been off training or studying most of the days that Sesshomaru had come back, but these past couple days have had him clinging on.

"Nothing yet?" Katsu asked, knowing that his father's human night was upon them.

In the corner, Sesshomaru stood still, arms crossed.

Inuyasha sighed. "Nothing. Maybe it'll happen after tonight?"

A full month. Inside, he felt his pup stretch out again and settle in, seemingly ready to nap. This pup was in no hurry to be born, but he wasn't sure how much longer he could stand being unable to move.

To pull it out before hand, Inuyasha was aware of the risks. The babe might be ready to live in the world, but it would mean temporarily cutting off the yokai bond they shared causing distress.

When the pup was ready, its need to come out would carry through the bond signaling birthing pains. For a female, it meant to get ready and as comfortable as possible for a long birthing process. For a male, it meant call the healer fast and settle down somewhere comfortable to make things easier to be cut open.

Chie was living in the castle and more often than not was napping in his chambers when Sesshomaru was not present.

He was pretty certain she would not leave tonight.

His stomach felt tight at the worry they were causing.

He rubbed at his stomach. Stay put one more night, little one, he silently asked of his pup.

Looking over, he saw Sesshomaru holding on to his Tensaiga, as if seeking comfort from his sword.

With that action alone, he knew what that sword meant. Sesshomaru was prepared for the worst case scenario. It warmed his heart, in an odd way. Not that Sesshomaru expected him to die but rather he was going to make sure Inuyasha stayed at all costs.

But there was a memory, of his mother telling him a story… and it drove him crazy as he tried to remember what it was she said.

The sword was triggering that thought and he couldn't remember why.

He just knew that it was important.

The sun dipped down and he felt his burden grow heavier.

He grunted in pain and settled back down onto the bed as Katsu scooted over and looked at him with those worried eyes.

"I'm okay," he murmured. "Nothing yet," he added a bit louder, seeing the unasked question in both the healer's and his brother's eyes.

Katsutoshi fluffed up some of the pillows around him, trying to help him stay comfortable.

Inuyasha gave his son a tired smile as he closed his eyes. He briefly wondered what his next cub would be like. Before long, his fatigue had him fall asleep under the vigilance of his brother, healer, and son.

X

Come.

Katsutoshi's eyes snapped open at the mental command.

No.

Glancing over at his father, he could see the dark circles even more pronounced with the candle light being used. Chie was sleeping in a chair and it looked uncomfortable.

Over to the window, Sesshomaru was staring out into the sky.

Katsu tried to keep the same rhythm of breathing so as not to gain his uncle's unwanted attention.

Why?

Father could give birth any moment.

Does it matter? It will be as I said.

Doubt continued to plague Katsu's mind at previous conversations he had with Naraku. His sire would constantly mention that more training time would open up with the birth of the new cub. All attention would be on it, allowing him to escape.

But that was the crux of the problem. To have all attention go to the cub meant Inuyasha's focus won't be on him, and while he had been willing to share, to completely give it up to the new pup?

There is always the possibility of doing away with it.

Katso couldn't help but glance sharply at his father and the swollen belly. Whose voice was that in his head just now? It wasn't his sire's voice, but it wasn't exactly his own either.

Are you sure? It has always been father and me. It was exciting that there would be someone younger than me. But… I'm not ready to completely give up father. And what of uncle? He would rather not be around me nor I around him, but… if he ends up preferring the new cub… they would be more like a family and me? They may easily forget me…

Katsu shook his head, trying to get rid of those unwelcome thoughts.

"Is something wrong?"

Katsu looked over at his uncle.

"Bad dreams."

He watched his uncle make a face, and Katsu couldn't help but smirk. It was obvious his uncle was trying to decide to ignore him or offer some words of comfort. He chose to help his uncle by settling back down to sleep, snuggling by his father's side, hand out to touch the belly.

He could feel the pup shift and Katsu couldn't help but feel marveled by one thing.

He felt for a moment the presence of Kouga.

It will be a strong pup as well… Maybe even stronger than me.

Katsu frowned. Suddenly, that thought scared him in different ways than his dark thoughts had.

X

Chie yawned as she stretched.

"Nothing?" she asked.

"Nothing," responded Sesshomaru, in a low voice.

"How many more candle marks till dawn?"

"Only two more."

Chie smiled. "And still sleeping soundly? We may be out of danger already."

"With Inuyasha, it's best not to make any presumptions."

"Of course. If you'll excuse me, I need to move my tired limbs."

The elder healer stood up and shuffled out of the room. The sound of a small grunt caught Sesshomaru's attention and he was at Inuyasha's side in an instant, starting Katsu who had also woken up at the sound.

Inuyasha's eyes were furrowed, but then they relaxed and a small sigh escaped his lips.

Sesshomaru relaxed. Curiosity got the better of him and he reached out to touch the dark hair that lay spread across the pillows. And with the dark lashes that now lined his eyes, Sesshomaru noticed just how long they actually were.

With a soft smile threatening to make an appearance, he touched the cheek of his brother.

And frowned.

Inuyasha's face felt awfully cold considering he had a thick cover over him and the air was not that cool.

Inuyasha's eyebrows furrowed again and a moan was heard this time.

"Uncle?" he heard Katsu call out.

"Find Chie and have her call the human healer and Rin."

Katsu leapt out of the bed as Inuyasha woke with a pained cry.

Sesshomaru sat next to his brother, pulling him by his side as Inuyasha gritted his teeth.

"Not now, not now," he was muttering in a strained voice.

"Try to remain calm," Sesshomaru said. "It's two candle marks away. Try to hold on as long as you can."

"Easier said than done, Bastard!" Inuyasha growled, not sounding that threatening in his human voice. He gritted his teeth again and took deep breaths, but Sesshomaru could feel the tremors that Inuyasha was going through. "Aah!" Inuyasha's back arched as he clutched at the sheets and then went limp, panting for breath, one arm coming up to grab onto Sesshomaru's arm that had wrapped around him.

"Deep breaths," Sesshomaru murmured, using his other hand to wipe the sweat from Inuyasha's forehead. He moved so that Inuyasha could lay on his chest a bit better.

Inuyasha's other hand had moved to his stomach, which now lay exposed as his hakama pulled open.

Sesshomaru couldn't help but grow alarmed at the sight.

His whole stomach was turning dark with bruises. His human skin was too weak for a yokai child that was a month past due. He could see the pup move, leaving more bruises forming.

Tears were starting to stream from Inuyasha's clenched eyes as he bit back a yell, groaning instead as his hand moved to where Sesshomaru could see the faint shape of a foot pressing against the skin.

The chamber door burst open and Chie rushed in, followed by a human male and Rin, both in sleeping attire. Katsu trailed behind, red eyes glittering in the dark, wide with what looked like fear.

Rin carried several clothes in her arms while the human healer had a decent sized container of water. Chie held a bamboo box that Sesshomaru recognized as a medicine man's tool box.

Inuyasha cried out again, unable to hold back any more.

"Keep him calm!" the human said loudly. "His heart will go into shock if he is not calmed down enough to get through this."

"You try keeping calm when something is pressing against your insides!" Inuyasha shouted.

Sesshomaru tightened his grasp on his brother, afraid to let him go and at the same time afraid that he would cause more harm holding on to him.

His fingers itched to reach for his sword, but he also wanted to keep both hands upon his brother.

"Lord Inuyasha," he heard Rin calling out. "Please hold on for as long as you can!

The candle that marked the passing of time seemed to never go down. The sky never seemed to lighten.

All Sesshomaru could do was listen to the pained cries of his brother as his stomach continued to turn black with bruises. All of a sudden, he began to cough, and a bit of blood sprayed onto the sheets.

Sesshomaru looked up at the healers.

Chie looked as if she were in shock, while the male human looked grim.

Inuyasha's body grew taunt as his back arched again and his eyes rolled back before growing limp.

"Inuyasha!" Sesshomaru cried, seeing how unresponsive Inuyasha looked as his eyes fluttered, skin growing alarmingly pale.

"Poppa!" he could hear Katsu calling out.

"We have to cut it out," he said. "It's damaging his insides."

"Poppa!"

"Rin! Get him out!" Chie cried out. "He can't see this! It'll be too much."

"Yes, ma'am."

"No! Poppa! Don't touch me! Poppa!"

Sesshomaru could only hear the struggle occurring as he continued to watch his brother looking closer and closer to death.

He loosened his grip as Chie and the human healer gently pulled Inuyasha to lay him in a better position for the procedure they were about to attempt.

He slid off the bed and reached for his Tensaiga.

With his brother so close to death, he was expecting to feel a faint vibration coming from the sword. But he was feeling nothing yet. Would the sword start humming once death was upon Inuyasha? If that were the case, he'd rather not feel it at all.

His yokai seemed to be filled with a mournful and desperate feeling.

"Sesshomaru, keep a hold on him. Hand, wrist, something so he can feel you!"

Sesshomaru felt as if he were moving in water as he reached out to grasp and pull Inuyasha's hand to him. How tiny and cold it felt at the moment. So frail without his claws. And how translucent his skin was beginning to look. He could make out the veins as they struggled to continue pumping blood. His dark violet eyes were barely visible in his half open eyes.

A movement caught his attention and he saw Chie tilting a bottle with clear fluid onto a rag. She held it over Inuyasha's mouth.

"Too keep him as unconscious as possible," she said, as Inuyasha's eyes completely closed. "The procedure will be painful and we can't have him move."

He saw the human healer approaching with a small blade.

The demon in him roared knowing that it would be used to cut his frail brother.

The logical side of him knew that this was going to be the only way to free the infant demon from its fleshy prison.

He watched as the healer placed the knife upon the bruised stomach and cut a line across, underneath Inuyasha's belly button, roughly the length of his hand.

Blood began to pour out and he could make out a small limb flail as the healer reached in.

But he could no longer hear anything as he could almost feel how hard Inuyasha's heart was struggling to stay beating. He could hear the sound of air slowly being pulled in and exhaled. He thought he could hear the sound of the child cry, and Chie called out the gender of the child.

But Sesshomaru did not care. There was too much blood and Inuyasha was growing colder.

The candle was still slowly melting, almost at its second mark.

The sky was showing the faintest bit of light.

Did one of them say something about slowing down the blood loss as long as possible? He couldn't tell. The sword had yet to hum.

Bloody hands were reaching into Inuyasha's stomach, pulling out the sac that had formed around the child. They plunged in again, pressing against small wounds that kept bleeding.

Inuyasha's skin had gone grey.

Chie's face was filled with tears.

The human healer had an unhappy face.

Rin looked as she was trying not to cry.

The young one continued to cry.

A soft exhale escaped Inuyasha's lips but his chest did not expand to show that he was taking more air.

The faint pulse he felt in his hand faltered.

The sun peeked over the edge.

The hair remained black.

And his sword was silent.

His sword was silent.

It was silent.

Why?

Why?

Why?!

"Inuyasha!"

TBC…

A/N2: *cough* Uh, it'll probably be another two months before the next chapter…. Sorry… Who am I kidding? I have a sadistic streak in me that pops up from time to time. No promises but I'll try not to let it be two months. But I do have other stuff I'm working on and I've been rotating my projects. If you've read my work, then you should know I've got a web comic based on my OC's from my Gargoyle fic Never Meant to Be/ Chance Encounters and Promises/ What was Meant to Be. Loosely based off those OCs. Revamped them considerably. Comic can be found at smackjeeves under the comic title Entangled Fates. Been on a hiatus for almost a month because of this chapter. : P So patience.