The pack – the most important part of an inu youkai's life. They are born unto the pack belonging to their dam, protected by their sire, raised by all who belong to the unit that is solely known as pack. Unlike human families, which can branch off and become weaker through disconnection, inu packs are unified in a singular goal: protect the pack above all cost.

When they come of age, young males may go out and seek a mate – a female who can provide them with greater lands, greater genetic possibilities through stronger offspring, and above all one which can be loyal to him to the end. Only the strongest will gain their own pack, singular from the one they were raised in. This is the way of the inu youkai, since before time was measured.

Miko – one of the most dangerous enemy of the youkai – their purity only slightly less deadly than the Bhikkhu in that their purity can be tainted, due to their imperfect bodies. Despite this downfall, they are still formidable opponents and are therefore avoided at all costs. Fortunately, only humans are born with such ability and therefore youkai can easily outlive these potentially deadly foes.

All of this information would be considered the very basics of what an inu pup might learn from their sire or dam. So where did Mizuki go wrong?

The inu female watched from above as her niece and the hanyou continued to form an unusual relationship, the humans in the village acted as if nothing was out of the ordinary, and the young miko behaved as if this was how her life was supposed to be. There was just one major problem with that: this was not how things should be going! News had spread fast that Kagome had bested Yukino easily. Nobuyuki finally admitted that his eldest daughter had not received much training in the way of self-defense since she had decided at a young age that Sesshomaru would be the one for her. Being the spoiled, cherished daughter – she got away with it. Unfortunately, that led to some problems.

For one, since Kagome had shown a lack of deferment towards herself, she ran away with Sesshomaru, and beat Yukino to where the princess had lost her claim. It was accepted by most that the young human woman had claimed Sesshomaru for herself. This, in turn, caused a serious problem whenever Mizuki tried to find some way around this mess. She would never admit it to anyone, but she was worried for her son's life. If he attempted to mate Kagome, there was a strong possibility that she may kill him. No one could be certain. It had always been taboo for a youkai male to take on a miko.

Even worse than all of that, however, was the blow to the pack. By Kagome claiming Sesshomaru, but not actually mating him – from what it seemed she wasn't even speaking to him – an insult had been brought on the pack. Were they, one of the most powerful inu packs in all of Japan, not worthy of a single human female's attention? It was up to Mizuki to right this wrong. Either Kagome would fulfill her end of the claim and go to Sesshomaru, or Mizuki would be forced to fight her and kill her.

Jaw setting, the elder inu lowered and landed lightly on the ground behind the girl, watching as she scrubbed clothing in the water and hummed an unusual tune. "Do you mock us, little miko?"

Kagome jumped and let out a squeak, nearly falling into the water. Bracing herself against the ground, she turned to gape at Mizuki. "Lady Mizuki! I'm sorry; I didn't notice your approach. What did you say?"

Fury darted in Mizuki's gaze as she stared down at the insolent girl. "This Mizuki will not repeat simply because you are too fickle to listen!"

The miko sighed and nodded. "I'm sorry. What can I help you with?"

Mizuki considered ripping the human girl's head off right there. Did she have no clue as to what she had done? "You will renounce your claim on our son."

That got Kagome's attention, and she dropped the clothing into the stream, the thick cloth making a slapping sound against the rocks she had been using to scrub with before sliding into the water. Her jaw fell open as she stood, shaking and uncertain, before looking to Sesshomaru's mother. "I do not understand what you mean."

Mizuki sighed in irritation. "Clearly you will not fulfill your claim, if you cannot drop your claim… This Mizuki will kill you."

Kagome's lip trembled. "What claim?"

"When you bested Lady Yukino, her claim was void and yours was clear. Do you deny such things?"

The ebony haired girl shook her head, bringing her cold shaking hands up to hug herself. "No… I… I just… wanted them to leave me alone."

Mizuki raised an eyebrow at that. "So you do not desire our son? He is unworthy?"

At that, Kagome stilled, looking up at Mizuki with solid eyes full of determination. "He is worth so much more than me."

The inu female growled low. "So your claim still stands? Fine, since you refuse to act on said claim and continue to shame our pack, This Mizuki is left with no choice but to kill you."

Kagome gasped and considered running, but she knew she wouldn't stand a chance. Staring at the infuriated woman before her, she flinched and closed her eyes as a delicate but deadly hand reached up to slash at her face. Waiting for the stinging blow that was sure to come, Kagome realized that too much time was passing. Opening an eye, she gasped and opened both wide to see Sesshomaru standing between them, gripping his mother's arm angrily.

Mizuki's eyes widened, and her lips pulled back in a snarl as she pushed back against her son, attempting to throw him off. He held her firmly, staring down on her with a mixture of sorrow and understanding. "You would disrespect your own alpha for the sake of a female that does not want you?"

Sesshomaru's gaze tightened and he gripped harder, a cracking sound echoing in the distance as Mizuki's bones constricted within his grasp. He leaned in, pushing against his mother and throwing her off balance slightly. She gasped. This was unexpected. Males were typically not as dominant as females among inu – usually a male would bow to a superior female, giving her full power of him. Yet, here was her own son, not just any son … her favorite son, fighting her for the sake of a human girl. Worse… a miko.

The young girl gasped from behind him, shaking her head firmly as tears streamed down her face. "Stop it! You're family! You aren't supposed to fight!"

Both inu turned to blink and stare at her as if she had lost her mind. Sesshomaru finally spoke, his voice slightly gritty with emotion. "You are part of our pack. Our mother threatened you. Therefore she threatened the pack. It does not matter that she birthed us, only that the pack survives."

Kagome shook her head, coming around and gripping his arm in a feeble attempt to pull him away. "No! It does matter! I could never forgive you if you hurt your mother, Sesshomaru!"

Mizuki's eyes widened and she let out a feral growl, pushing against her son in an attempt to swipe at Kagome with her other hand. "You bitch! Do you think you can command him even now? You are not his alpha!"

Sesshomaru was torn. He was supposed to protect Kagome from his mother, she was part of his pack, but yet she had said she would be unhappy if he protected her. How was he supposed to do both? Quickly making his decision, he released Mizuki and gathered Kagome in his arms, rushing from the village. Mizuki stood there for a few moments, shocked that her son would go through so much trouble for a simple human female, before her aura flared and her markings stretched as she transformed, giving chase.

InuYasha, Yukino, and Miroku all stood with similar surprised expressions. It was the princess who spoke first. "They are both going to die!"

The hanyou snorted. "You obviously have never fought with either one of them." Miroku nodded evenly.

Yukino shook her head furiously. "No! Lady Mizuki is a skilled fighter! She bested your sire!" The hanyou's eyes widened, and he gulped, wondering if they really were going to die. That wasn't something he wanted to accept, however. He moved forward, ready to charge after them, but was halted by his friend's hand on his shoulder.

Miroku shook his head lightly. "This is their battle."

It was all that needed to be said. While her initial connection to the youkai lord had been surprising, it was not lost on the other villagers that Kagome's affections had grown significantly. Over time, it was very clear to everyone that she genuinely loved Sesshomaru – and by his behavior, it would seem that he was forming such attachments to her as well.

InuYasha had discussed the situation at length with Miroku. The monk had listened quietly, never saying much more than an occasional hum. Once the hanyou had ranted out his frustrations, the man finally spoke clearly about how it was obvious that he and Kagome had what many would consider a "first love". InuYasha had balked at this, pointing out that he had loved Kikyo before her and the monk nodded before pointing out that they were for him, essentially, the same woman. Sure, while in many ways they were very different, InuYasha still had a hard time telling them apart. Occasionally, he mistook the younger girl for her elder reincarnation – even now, many years later. As far as Miroku was concerned, that was proof enough that InuYasha's heart merely saw Kagome as a replacement for Kikyo - a pretty bandage to hide the painful scars.

He knew now that Miroku was right. This was no longer his problem. That didn't mean he had to like it. While he understood that Sesshomaru was not the cold-hearted prick he had always made him out to be, it was still a difficult pill to swallow. Even harder to face was the idea that Sesshomaru had actually been suffering because of him. Had been lying, to himself and others, when he said that he felt disgusted by InuYasha's relation to him – going so far as to tell others to not refer to them as siblings. Yukino had explained everything to him, however, after much prodding on the hanyou's part at trying to figure out just what Kagome even saw in the ice prince.

It was hard for him to accept that his own mother, who had always seemed kind and loving to him, had done those things. She was a little unhinged, sure, constantly muttering under her breath at how his father had left her to her troubles in the time when she needed him most. He had never understood that, always wondering if she blamed his father for his existence and how much difficulty his upbringing brought upon her. Still, he knew the words that Yukino spoke were the truth. He could recall the day he found his mother, dead in a pool of her own blood. She had slowly lost her sanity, unable to cope with the hardships of her life. Carved into the once pristine flesh she had cherished in life were the words of her sorrow. He had always believed she was sorry for leaving him. Now he truly understood the meaning of those words: with great sorrow and humility, I go to him and plunge you into loneliness, for I have turned you away from the gentle light of the moon… forgive my selfish pride.

Kagome's heart raced as Sesshomaru ran, trying to outrun his mother as she pursued them. "Have you both gone crazy?!" She yelled, trying to hold down her hair as it whipped around her face.

His eyes narrowed, and he glared down on her. "Have you? What possessed you to think that you could ever come between This Sesshomaru and our dam?"

The young girl rolled her eyes at that. "You were fighting because of me! I don't even understand what she was talking about!" She yelled back, they both were yelling because of the intensity of his speed and the howling of the wind as they pushed against it. Of course, she was pretty certain they would probably have been yelling even if they were in total silence.

Sesshomaru growled low, shoving off a tree and darting suddenly out of the way as his mother caught up with him and attempted to knock them over with one of her enormous paws. A fraction of him was surprised that the woman in his arms did not scream in fright. Her response, however, should not have shocked him how it did. Instead of crying in horror at the sight of the enormous inu clearly wanting to kill them both, Kagome's eyes widened and her mouth fell into a large grin.

"She's so pretty!"

He fought the urge to groan at the woman's antics. Only a human like Kagome could think that was even close to what she should be saying in such a situation. "Hold onto this." He commanded, handing her the end of his pelt and frowning as he gathered his energy. "Tightly." He amended, assuring that if she did not understand his meaning through the words he spoke she would through the tone in which he said them.

Kagome gulped and nodded, gripping to the fluffy white mass for dear life, suddenly too afraid to do what she had thought of when he first gave it to her. Instead of cuddling it and embracing the softness, she wondered what he might be doing, only to let out a squeak of surprise and scream his name as she began to drop downwards into the sky, a rumbling of building youki pushing down on her as she did so. Struggling to hold onto him, her body trembled as she dared to look up, gasping at how amazing the sight before her was.

She had seen this once before, but the last time she had witnessed it he had not exactly felt favorable towards her. In fact, it had been her he intended to kill that time. Now, unabashedly, she was able to watch him transform and for a brief moment, she forgot entirely about the fact that Mizuki intended to murder them both, that he was still treating her as if she was nothing more than something to protect because of pack loyalty, or that she was dangling from the sky several thousand feet in the air and could become a Kagome pancake if she let go. Instead, all she could do was watch as he shifted and grew, seeming to explode from a tiny package into an amazing and enormous dog.

When he twisted suddenly her eyes widened once more and she let out a small scream as the end of the pelt flipped upward with such intensity that she was forced to let go. Her body flew up, arms and legs hanging down as she stared at the full form of Sesshomaru, only to realize his intentions when she collided with his back, landing in a large sea of white fur that billowed around her like a protective blanket. Understanding without having to be told, she grasped onto his coat and pressed herself against him, waiting for him to continue to flee.

He did not.

Sesshomaru turned to his mother and let out a fierce growl, the sound rumbling up and vibrating through Kagome's body which caused her to shiver. What was he doing? Was he an idiot? His mother would surely kill them!

Mizuki paused before them, letting out what seemed to be a series of whimpers and growls. Sesshomaru didn't appear to be affected, snorting heavily and leaning forward to look down on his mother, who was somewhat smaller than him now. Kagome let out a squeak as he lunged forward, not moving to attack, but trying to intimidate. Mizuki growled out and bit at her son, clearly furious.

This was all wrong.

They shouldn't be fighting.

Kagome knew this was true, but had no idea how to stop them. When Sesshomaru shifted, dodging another swipe of his mother's paws, she realized that this was all for her and if she did nothing, it would only end badly. Lifting herself up, she tried to cry out to them, begging them to stop, but they could no longer hear her. Her voice was drowned out by the rough winds that pushed and shoved against them as they continued to struggle, Mizuki attacking at every turn and Sesshomaru dodging and defending.

When he let out a whimper as his mother's paw collided with his face, Kagome's eyes widened. He was going to just let her beat him in exchange for what? To protect her? She couldn't allow it. Determined, she pulled herself into a standing position before closing her eyes; the tears falling without control now as she let go and slowly felt herself falling back. As the wind whipped around her body, she could see Sesshomaru turn to her, as if to question what was happening, only for Mizuki to take the opportunity to swipe at him again, hoping to stop him from stopping what would come next.

Kagome closed her eyes, bringing her hands up to cross over her chest as she fell. The fall itself was not frightening. She had fallen many times before and so the sensation it created was no longer terrifying, but actually peaceful. Still, she knew better than to think she might survive this. No one was there to catch her this time.

It didn't matter. If it meant Sesshomaru could live freely, without being attacked by his mother, then so be it. Her life was worth that. She could hear his cries even now, despite being unable to understand them – she could comprehend what he meant. He was angry with her, hurt by her, confused, and upset with the situation.
When arms surrounded her, grasping onto her body and pulling against the gravitational pull of the Earth below, she opened her eyes and expected to see an angry Sesshomaru. Instead, she stared into the wide and surprised eyes of his mother, once again in her humanoid form. "You would give yourself for his sake?"

Kagome did not hesitate. "Of course."

Mizuki looked like she was going to be sick. Sesshomaru came towards them, returning to his own humanoid state as he glanced between the females, clearly worried that his mother might do something to Kagome. "Let her go." He demanded.

The inu female sighed and held the girl out to her son, who grasped her with such emotion that she knew for certain all was lost. He would never return to their pack. Sesshomaru had his own pack now, even if it had always been unconventional. Now, with the admittance of a clear intended – Mizuki could do nothing but stand by and watch. Part of her was grateful for Kagome's sign of loyalty. Perhaps, if the young girl could be so willing to give her life for Sesshomaru's safety, then she could somehow control her miko abilities and he would not be at risk. It was a lot to hope for, but it was all Mizuki had to cling to at this point. Swallowing down the burning sensation in her throat, the inu woman bowed and looked to the two – mere pups in her eyes – wishing with all her being that this was not a mistake. "This Mizuki concedes that your claim on our son is genuine, miko Kagome Higurashi."

With that, she turned away, slowly floating off as she tried to come to terms with the knowledge that she had lost her son – her favorite son – to a human that could kill him with one touch. Confused at what had happened, Kagome watched the lady leave, turning to stare at Sesshomaru with a sorry expression. "What claim?"

Sesshomaru visibly deflated. Even he couldn't deny the heavy blow to his ego at those two simple words. In that moment, as his habits resurfaced and he tried to remind himself that she belonged to InuYasha and therefore, any claim on him was irrelevant, he realized the startling truth. She was no longer claimed. InuYasha had left her behind. At this point, she belonged only to him as his pack member. She belonged to him. That thought swelled within him and he determined that he had enough of pretending to be something he was not, of hiding from the possibilities of hurting his half-brother. She was here, she was free, and he wanted her. What else was there to consider?

His voice was rough as he pulled her closer, eliciting a lovely gasp from her as she stared up at him, still lost on what was happening. "This claim." Leaning in, he captured her lips with his. Unlike their previous kiss, this was more than just a request or a demand – it was a promise. He would keep her safe, cherish her every breath, and give her many pups. They would be happy, together. This he knew.

Kagome responded to his kiss at first, relishing in the moment as he showered her with his affections. His lips were rough on hers, his fang nipping at her lower lip as he continued to kiss her with all the pent up emotions he had been holding back. It was very clear that he wanted her, needed her. Yet, in the back of her mind she could not help but wonder if it was because he loved her – truly – or if it really was simply because she was part of his pack. Was this all instinct and nothing more? Could she accept that? Pushing against his chest, she broke their kiss and stared up at him, amazed at the swirling emotions that floated within the typically empty amber. "Sesshomaru… we need to talk."

He raised an eyebrow at that, not sure he enjoyed her tone. When he did not say anything after several uncomfortable minutes, she took it as a sign that she should start talking. Suddenly feeling nervous, she laughed and looked down over the Japanese countryside. They were still several hundred feet in the air. Not that it bothered her, it was a lovely view. She knew he wouldn't drop her. Tears welled in her eyes as she considered how to approach this. If he answered honestly and told her that it was instinct that drove him, that she was no more or less appealing than other females, her heart would be broken. If he answered honestly and told her that he loved her, that he wanted her above any other female, her heart would overflow. Either way, she would be shaken to her core, unable to process anything more.

Doubt began to seep into her mind. What if he said that it was instinct? It probably was. She wasn't all that fabulous. Compared to someone like Yukino, who had status, grace, and most of all an understanding of inu that would always exceed Kagome's… compared to that, she was nothing more than a momentary blip in time. For a short moment, she felt as if she would have been better off never having known what she did about him. This was crazy after all. She knew so much and yet felt like she knew absolutely nothing. Worse, what did he know about her?

"Why do you want me?" It was all she could manage to get out, even if it wasn't exactly what she wanted to say. The words came out forcefully, almost angrily, as if she was defensive about this. Perhaps she was.

Sesshomaru was shocked, staring down on her with his own confusion. It was a good question. It was the question. Why did he want her? Was it just instinct?

Perhaps he had been naturally inclined to her because she was the first female who entered his pack? No. He knew better, even if he had been denying it this whole time. He had been interested in her from the beginning. That alone terrified him. He had no interest in humans, particularly human females. They had been nothing but trouble in his life, had done nothing but harm to him and his pack.

Still, that was not enough to deter his curiosity about the woman in question. First, she smelled delicious - often one of the first hints towards a potential successful mating. A positive reaction towards the scent of a member of the opposite sex typically meant stronger offspring in the making. He could still recall his elder sisters babbling on about how amazing some male smelled after they would return from a hunt. It was one of the first signs that an inu was entering the stage of life where they would begin seeking a mate.

After her fragrance, he noted other features that were unusual about her but that intrigued him. Her eyes were a most peculiar shade, particularly for a human. Sesshomaru admitted that it had been an unfortunate realization as he moved to kill her for grasping his father's heirloom. That singular difference in her had been enough to throw him off for a few moments, just a few scant seconds, and he could still recall how he had berated himself for the embarrassing lapse in judgment.

Her clothing had also drawn his attention. The unusual textiles, the vibrant colors, the strange design – it had not even occurred to him at first how entirely indecent the outfit was until he had managed to steal a set from her belongings, his curiosity getting the better of him. After careful examination, he had discovered that the material was not quite like anything he had ever known before. All of his clothes were made from the finest silk, but these were made of something that was clearly an inferior product – plant based, he gathered from the scent – but was treated in such a way that it nearly rivaled his own clothing. Even more fascinating, the stitching was of such extreme precision, the likes of which he had never seen before. Youkai seamstresses were some of the best, having centuries of experience over their human counterparts, and even they could not create such tiny, neat rows of stitches. By the time he had finished his thorough exploration of the outfit, he was mortified to realize that he had wasted an entire afternoon on a human child's clothes. Embarrassment settled in and he was unable to bring himself to return the garment until recently.

Sesshomaru had not admitted to himself that he kept the clothes because they smelled of her and he quite enjoyed her scent. He even went so far as to hide them away, assuring none would find them by placing them amid his own pelts in his room. A few youkai had paused and sniffed the air before shrugging it off as their imagination as her scent dissipated in the halls, after that – none had ever known of his secret, his guilty pleasure.

Despite his fascination with the human woman, he continued to remind himself that she was human and humans were nothing but trouble. It had been a human woman who birthed InuYasha, only to deny Sesshomaru his rights as alpha and therefore stunt the hanyou's growth as an inu. After that, it had been a human woman who pinned InuYasha to a tree, forcing the hanyou to a fifty-year slumber that threw Sesshomaru's entire world upside down. Following that, another human female – the one that intrigued him so much – released the hanyou, only to leave for some time to some unexplainable location. When she returned, calling him "big brother" the endearment had irked him so badly for reasons he could not explain.

Kagome's return was both a blessing and a curse. In her short period of being away, he had convinced himself that she was irrelevant. Just a curiosity, nothing more… certainly nothing to lose sleep about – yet, when she came back and called to him so cheerfully, her scent rising to him with each gentle note of her voice, he had to struggle just to maintain his composure. She had not simply come back… she had returned as a fully-fledged woman. It was in that moment that Sesshomaru realized his guilty pleasure was now fatal attraction.

He could not have her. She belonged to InuYasha. That was an easy lie to accept. It would hurt the hanyou if he went against his claim on the female, so it was better to just let things go. Yet, everything in him wanted to take her for himself. She had proven so many qualities of the inu: strong parental instincts, courage in the face of conflict; she was even educated and rather intelligent for a female. All he had seen of her showed she had nearly everything he was seeking in a mate. The only thing she had not displayed was loyalty… and she had just shown that without a doubt. Why would he not want her?


The young lord blinked and returned her gaze, realizing he had not responded and had lost himself in thought. Kagome was waiting for his answer. Gripping her firmer, he pulled her to him, bringing a hand up to run through her hair as he tried to gather his thoughts. "You display all the qualities of a fine mate: mothering instincts, power, intelligence..."

Kagome frowned. Something felt off. This was still all part of his youkai instincts. Licking her lips, she swallowed down a thickness that had developed in her throat before interrupting him. "…but do you love me? I mean, you barely know me! Sure, you know all these little things that your instincts tell you are great about me, but what do you know about me? Where I come from, what my favorite food is, if I'm a morning person, if I am ticklish… you don't know anything about me at all! How can you want someone you don't even know?"

He stilled. Her heart stopped. That couldn't be a good sign. Closing her eyes tightly, she waited for the response she knew was going to come. When he leaned in, breath brushing against her ear hotly and sending a shiver down her spine, he said the words so surely, but so softly, that she almost thought she was dreaming. "I would like to think that I could take the next few decades of your life to get to know all of that… and more."

"Come on, Kagome!" Shippo called, racing ahead of her and Rin as he darted down the hillside towards the others. The woman laughed and followed, gripping the end of her kimono tightly as she went to enjoy the new spring flowers with the children of the village. Her face flushed, and she stopped to take a breath, the kitsune giving a sigh and turning to her with an exasperated look. "All the pretty flowers will be gone if you keep stopping, Kagome!" He teased.

She gave him a smirk and put her hands on her practically non-existent hips, trying not to lose her balance as she swayed there, plump with child. "Shippo! They are all beautiful!"

The kitsune seemed disbelieving, plucking up a particularly lonely looking flower that only had a couple petals remaining and had clearly been squashed by someone already. "This one only looks pretty pathetic – not pretty looking." He said, matter-of-factly.

Kagome waddled over to him, taking the blossom and smiling down on it lovingly. "It's often the first flowers of spring, the brave ones that go out on their own and blaze a path for others, that are taken for granted. Without them, think of all we wouldn't have."

He still didn't seem to think she was making any sense. She took his hand with a small laugh before leading him up the next hill and on into the meadow, filled with flowers. When his eyes widened and he gasped at the awesome sight, she bent over and held the sad, wilted flower before him. "Do you see all of that, Shippo? All of that was thanks, in large part, to this flower right here."

The kitsune's eyes widened and he frowned as realization hit. "It did all of this… and I killed it!" He cried out in horror. Kagome laughed again, shaking her head, before tossing the poor abused flower in with the other blossoms.

"It will be reborn again… with the love and careful patience of the other flowers… and return the most beautiful of them all." Shippo looked up at her as if she was the most amazing person ever, possibly a magician, and Kagome smiled before gesturing to the flowers. The kitsune and Rin took their cue and darted out into the blossoms with the other children, enjoying them and knowing they were doing no harm. More would come. Love would bring them back together.

Kagome turned to look at the top of the neighboring hill, a gentle smile on her face as she watched the brothers interact. It was all so natural for them now, talking and standing beside one another as if it was nothing. She wondered what they were talking about, but her hearing wasn't able to pick up on their voices from this distance. With a sigh, she realized that was probably for the best. They were brothers, after all, and they deserved their private moments. It was what she had wanted for them all along.

Up on the hilltop stood two brothers.

They were as different as could be, but the same in many ways. Both had been hurt, lonely, afraid, confused, and wrong about each other. They had fought against each other, fought with the other, and fought against themselves because of the other. There was a time when they couldn't even hold a civil conversation that did not involve weaponry and danger. Yet, here they were, watching as the villagers took in their first taste of spring, speaking to one another as if they had never had a reason to do otherwise.

Neither had bothered to openly discuss what happened. It seemed difficult for both to bring up the subject. However, like usual, the elder brother's curiosity got the better of him and he could not help himself but to ask: "Why did you let her go?"

InuYasha scoffed, crossing his arms as his brow furrowed. He hated these kinds of mushy discussions. With a sigh, he looked to Sesshomaru, raising an eyebrow and letting out a huff. "You really are an idiot sometimes." Sesshomaru stood there silently, not responding to the insult as he waited for a legitimate answer to his question. The hanyou frowned and reached up, scratching at his chin before giving a shrug. "It just seemed to make sense. After all, she didn't love me… she loved my brother."

When he said those words, he turned to Sesshomaru, looking at him with wide eyes, as if waiting to be struck down for admitting their connection. It was the first time either had used such a title aloud, alone or otherwise. The elder inu stood there, mouth slightly open as he watched his pack member defer to him his proper status and for once in a very long time… Sesshomaru felt whole.