Disclaimer: I do hereby disclaim all rights and responsibilities for the characters in this playful misadventure... especially for the protective one. A nod of recognition is bent towards Rumiko Takahashi for her creative prowess.

Chapter 18: Sweet-Smelling Symbiosis

Sesshoumaru lifted the bamboo mat covering the door to the old miko's hut and verified his fears. Both Kagome and Rin snuggled close to his altered retainer. While he watched absentmindedly, Inuyasha peered past his brother's shoulder and muttered, "You're worried about something."


"What the hell's going on!" the hanyou growled, his golden eyes fixed on Kagome.

With a soft sigh, the taiyoukai let the covering drop back into place and strode away, lest they wake Rin. He cared little about the never-ending drama of his sibling's existence, but Sesshoumaru understood both the fierceness and futility of Inuyasha's attachment to the miko. Their father's blood ran strong in the hanyou's veins, lending him long life... and slow maturation. Four years were already enough to show that the gap was widening between Kagome and his brother. He remains little more than a whelp, while she grows older. Too young to make a claim, Inuyasha had become a possessive and over-protective packmate. "Your miko has fallen under his thrall," Sesshoumaru explained in a low voice.

Inuyasha frowned. "You're finally talking, but you ain't making sense."

"Imps are weak, so they align themselves with stronger species."

"Yeah, yeah," he grumbled. "They're lackeys for life, but that don't explain why Kagome's using yours for a pillow."

"He has secured her protection."

"Thought he had you for that," the hanyou countered, bravado barely masking his uneasiness.

"She has been affected," the taiyoukai reiterated.

"Keh. How?" he demanded. "It ain't like he's trying to get on her good side."

Sesshoumaru hated stating the obvious. "Imps use scent to ingratiate themselves. It is instinctive."

Inuyasha blinked, sniffed at the air, then had the audacity to smirk. "So you're saying... your retainer leads you around by the nose?"

He refused to dignify the question with an answer.

End Note: This chapter was written for the Live Journal community fanfic(underscore)bakeoff and their Secret Ingredient for October 2011—Absent. Posted on October 4, 2011. 300 words.