Beyond 7

Sesshoumaru was interrupted from his thoughts by a powerful tug on his instincts and he immediately responded. He had been a very well trained puppy; since birth and long before he was weaned, his instincts had been honed and although he could choose not to act, he could never ignore them. Youkai as strong as he and from such strong parents were linked by their youki too and they knew when family was calling for them. But this was his own youkai instincts warning him of trouble that might be brewing for his brother. Subliminal signals had been processed and now alerted Sesshoumaru to go back and collect Inuyasha earlier than he originally planned.

In the past he had often chosen to turn away from the warnings, although he still found that he had always checked up on his brother to his well concealed fury, which in turn had made him cruel. But he had never taken it so far that Inuyasha was cowed by him, nor any other and eventually hatred had become respect and maybe could be developed further. The Daiyoukai was disgruntled though, he felt he should have known that Inuyasha's situation had changed so radically and he was annoyed that life changed so quickly for those connected to human blood.

It had only been eighty years perhaps since his irrational brother had sent his mate home; of course Sesshoumaru had known about that and had stayed in the area for many months afterwards to make sure that nothing untoward happened to the ill-fated hanyou. There had been much tension in the atmosphere at the time, the slayer and monk had not fully understood Inuyasha's motives, the woman especially had been vitriolic towards him for a while. And indeed the pair had decided to move away from the village and remove to the old slayer's village with a view to regenerate it as a thriving business centre again.

To Sesshoumaru's surprise, Inuyasha had not defended his actions to the female; not that the youkai felt the boy incumbent to do so, but Inuyasha often saw things differently to his brother, inexplicably offering explanations to those unworthy of his time. But none of these things had been a threat, the monk had been more level headed and eventually his wife had seen sense and harmony between the friends had been restored somewhat. They had of course decided to stay in their new village and bring up their children and Sesshoumaru was aware that although Inuyasha was welcome, it was only while his old friends were alive.

Discrimination had been abolished, Miroku had seen to that, but the whole purpose of the restored village was to be suspicious and destroy youkai. Over time and once the children of Inuyasha's friends were grown and married, they had ceased to visit the hanyou and actively discouraged the pup to visit them; the new family members were not as understanding of hanyou as his old friends had been. Sesshoumaru had learned all of this from Rin and Kohaku who had frequently taken time to keep up Inuyasha's acquaintance; he was also allowed to spend time with them in their home. The couple had not settled in the slayer's village because Sango had found it hard to let her brother go, so the pair had a spacious hut on the border of Sesshoumaru's land.

The Daiyoukai had been a fairly frequent visitor to his former wards, especially when they had offspring and he still made sure that their descendants who lived in the vicinity were protected. Sesshoumaru supposed that it was because of his care of and the news from Rin and Kohaku, that he hadn't seen the need to oversee his brother; and since they had died twenty or so years ago, the youkai lord had not frequented the area much. His instincts were now telling him that that was a mistake; the old priestess was long gone and the kitsune was busy and away much of the time, once again Inuyasha was alone and probably vulnerable. Sesshoumaru sped up on his way back to his brother, the boy's life belonged to the older brother, and it had been his long standing claim ever since the pup was born. He would not allow any danger however slight to get near to the hanyou, especially now that the pup had value to Sesshoumaru's future plans.

The familiar old ways of thinking though no longer sat well with Sesshoumaru, his instincts and his inclinations now were to reconcile and draw his brother home. There was much that Inuyasha needed to know and accept before the Daiyoukai's plans for the future of the Inu clan was put into practice. Besides which, what was the point in claiming the hanyou's life if he wasn't around enough to protect Inuyasha from any danger, that invariably included the risks the stupid boy put himself in in the first place? Sesshoumaru was still annoyed that he hadn't realised that Inuyasha wasn't living in the home he'd made; and showing his ignorance before the pup was not to be tolerated, the Daiyoukai would have to be more observant in future.

To that end, Sesshoumaru approached the village cautiously and silently, hiding his aura and presence; he would find out what had his youkai nervous for the boy before confronting Inuyasha. It did not take long for him to hear a threatening hubbub of noise coming from the large house that Inuyasha had built, although none of the voices were recognisable. Another symptom of human shortness of life, these were unfamiliar villagers, all those who knew personally of the events surrounding Naraku's defeat were long dead and so were their offspring in many cases. These were new people, some had grown up on the stories, others were immigrants to the area, all were scared of the unknown and the different and didn't care or believe in their village history.

What Sesshoumaru heard angered him; raised voices were complaining that the hanyou that was 'allowed' to live near the village was not doing his duty. He was letting all sorts of youkai visit him without fighting them, this was endangering their women and children. He should be punished, made to realise that he was only tolerated when he was useful; if he didn't learn they would threaten to kill him, which should make him understand the seriousness of his precarious position. One lone voice of reason entreated that the hanyou shouldn't be hurt over much; he might decide to leave them to their own devices. Another sneered that there was no danger of that, the hanyou had nowhere else to go; if he hadn't left before, he wouldn't do so now.

Sesshoumaru had heard enough, after listening to the humans and seeing the array of weapons and farming implements left outside that were obviously to be used against his brother, the youkai was tempted to kill these creatures where they stood. Only the certain knowledge that their blood would be scented clearly by Inuyasha prevented him, not from concern about how the boy would view his action, but because there was still more to discover. He needed all the facts before convincing Inuyasha to come away and leave the idiots to their fate which would be certain death; Sesshoumaru made sure of their scents before leaving.

It was easy to track Inuyasha; he was as usual in the general area of Goshinboku and swiftly Sesshoumaru made his way through the village and out to the other side. He passed over a patch of ground on the edge of the forest that made him pause and explore, there were definite signs of an old hut with scents that clung around and that he could still recognize; Inuyasha and fire. The forest had all but reclaimed the land, but the area of dwelling could still be made out to one with the superior senses of the Inuyoukai and the track of the fire proclaimed it had been no accident.

Now Sesshoumaru was searching for clues, he also took note of the bower that he could see high in Goshinboku. His sharp eyes noticed the strong branches that formed the ribs, ceiling and floor of a living cage far too established to be a recent construction. He also could make out the rich red of his brother's armour, the fire rat clothing and knew then that Inuyasha was still in the area. Sesshoumaru jumped up gracefully and silently to appear in front of Inuyasha. The hanyou had not been surprised however; he could tell that his brother was below the tree, he merely stared at him, leaning his chin on his bent knees, his arms clasped round his legs. Sesshoumaru glanced quickly around the bower, noting the limited space, the few essential belongings and the hides tied up at the sides that he assumed were unrolled to keep out winter winds.

"Inuyasha, do you accept This Sesshoumaru as your Alpha?"

"Hell, no! Why should I?"

"You must when you come back to the West."

"Feh!"

"Then you would be foolish enough to challenge me for Alpha status?"

"What, you think I couldn't take you?"

"I know you couldn't."

"Tessaiga's done it before."

"Hmmn, I will concede that Father could take me down, but he is not here and you will not use your sword to its full effect on me; you didn't while we were enemies, therefore you will not do so now."

"You are that sure of yourself…and me?"

"I am." With that Sesshoumaru allowed his youki to rise and swamp Inuyasha making the boy's ears plaster to his head and pull an involuntary grimace and growl from him. He kept it up until Inuyasha turned his head away in acceptance and when the point was made Sesshoumaru reassured the boy.

"I will not abuse my position Inuyasha, I want you home now and I need your help. There is something you need to know and accept, it may not be easy, but I will help you to understand on our way to Mother's."

"You said I had a couple of days."

"I have changed my mind and while we are talking, why are you reduced to living in this tree?"