His toes curled and dug into the damp soil, disturbing the grass underneath. The scent of pollen tickled his nose. Spring was here. Budding trees, warm air, new life—
Had he ever been so content until this moment? He could not remember.
He stretched his arms over his head and took a deep breath. And then he was lifted from behind and carried across the field in strong, unrelenting arms. He was laughing with so much joy now, admiration shining in his eyes. "Put me down already," he said, though he did not mind his current position at the least.
"As you wish." He—
What is that? Inuyasha's brows furrowed as the movement on the bed became increasingly harder to ignore. No, he refused to open his eyes. He huffed and turned over, burying his face in his pillow.
"Wake up, wake up, wake up!" It was a child's voice.
"Go away," Inuyasha said, voice muffled by the pillow.
There was a brief moment of silence, and Inuyasha began drifting back to sleep, lulled into a false sense of peace. Then, just as he was on the brink of falling asleep again, he felt his hair being tugged at and finally sat up, wincing as he felt his injuries from the previous night. His eyes were still closed and his brows were furrowed with displeasure.
"What-" he yawned mid speech, "do you want?"
"Play with me, play with me!" The little boy was bouncing up and down on the bed, his bushy tail swishing in excitement. He pulled at Inuyasha's arm, impatient.
Inuyasha made a tiny noise of frustration and opened his bleary eyes. "Alright already," he grumbled, dragging himself out of bed. He paused. "Wait, who are you?"
The boy froze. His large, storm gray eyes shone and began to water. "You're horrible, big brother!" He was bawling now.
Inuyasha panicked. "I was only teasing you!" he lied. "Let's play, okay?"
The boy sniffled. "Okay." He grinned, mood changing instantly. "You can be my horse!"
The scene Mayu walked in on was not one she had been expecting this early in the morning. Inuyasha was on all fours with Daichi sitting cross legged on his back, small hands swinging in the air joyously.
"Daichi!" Mayu called out, shocked.
The fox demon yelped in surprise. "Mayu! He immediately jumped off Inuyasha's back, eyes downcast with a sheepish little smile on his face.
"Shame on you!" she said, wiggling her finger at him.
He giggled, running to hide behind her legs.
"I apologize for his behavior, Inuyasha," Mayu said. "He should know better." She reached behind her legs and lightly pinched his ear.
Daichi winced and rubbed his ear. He looked over at Inuyasha and stuck his tongue out.
"Brat," Inuyasha said, smiling.
"We'll be going now," Mayu said.
As soon as the doors closed behind them, Mayu crouched down and looked sternly at the fox demon, eyes leveled. "Don't take advantage of the young master. You know he's not well yet," she said, only half serious.
"I know. I just miss him," Daichi said, voice trembling.
"We all do," Mayu replied, gently petting his head.
Inuyasha stretched his arms and yawned again, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. He had been dreaming so frequently that it was getting harder to distinguish between what was real and what wasn't. One thing he was sure of, however, was that the one who appeared in his dreams was the same person every time. They were always shrouded in darkness, as if being blocked from his mind; and no matter how desperately he tried, he could not see their face.
Now he was nearly certain that the dull ache he always felt humming in the back of his skull was somehow connected to these dreams. Inuyasha ruffled his hair in frustration and looked back longingly at the bed. He shook his head. He should not be getting comfortable here now.
He needed answers.
Without bothering to make himself look presentable, Inuyasha stepped out of his room and wandered down the corridors.
Sesshoumaru had not been able to take his attention away from Inuyasha. Watching him interact with the fox cub, it felt as if his brother had returned. Were it not for his human appearance, he could nearly fool himself into believing nothing had changed.
Inuyasha was roaming the halls, ebony hair disheveled, parting his lips in a light yawn now and again. The scene was one familiar to the demon lord, and in the deep recesses of his hardened heart, he felt something he thought he would never feel again. A dull ache only when Inuyasha was involved, heightened by the realization that their bond may never be restored to the way it once was. Was it longing? Perhaps.
Inuyasha suddenly paused his steps, turning to look at a painting of a silver haired demon with dog ears and golden eyes. He tiptoed, squinting while looking at the face in the portrait. Was this him? He supposed he could see some resemblance to himself…
Wandering further down the hallway, still barely roused from sleep, Inuyasha did not notice he had entered a room until he almost walked into a bookcase. If he had not been awake before, he was definitely more alert now. He took one step backwards, knocking down a few books from a wooden table. Loose parchment scattered on the ground, he thought he caught a glimpse of his name. Inuyasha crouched, being mindful of his injuries, and reached out to bring the parchment closer—
Startled, he turned to the source of the voice. Mayu was standing at the doorway, hands folded neatly over her stomach.
"Would you like to have breakfast now?" she asked.
At the question, Inuyasha's stomach growled as if on cue and he blushed in response. Parchment forgotten, he nodded and stood upright, trailing behind Mayu.
Sesshoumaru made his way into the room once they had gone. Silver hair fell over his breastplate as he bent slightly to gather the parchment on the ground. His eyes narrowed as they scanned and picked up the implications of the letter.
As if sensing the displeasure of his lord, Jaken appeared at that moment.
"Jaken. Explain," Sesshoumaru growled, clawed hands gripping the parchment tightly.
The imp instantly prostrated himself on the stone floor, sputtering. "M-milord, please punish me as you see fit!"
"They know of Inuyasha's condition," Sesshoumaru stated.
"What of the witch?"
"The witch? Y-yes, the witch!" Jaken said, relieved. "The messenger returned this morning. There is word that the witch is currently in the North, milord!"
"This witch will be able to heal him?"
"It is said that she has performed miracles, milord!" Jaken squawked.
"Hn." Sesshoumaru dismissed Jaken with a wave of his hand.
The imp demon bowed and scurried off before Sesshoumaru could change his mind.
"A second serving?" Mayu asked, already scooping more rice into his bowl.
"Thank you," Inuyasha said through a mouthful of food.
Mayu smiled, shaking her head. Some things never change.
"What about you? Won't you eat with me?" Inuyasha asked.
"I will have my meal at a later time," she replied. "How are you feeling?"
"Not my best," he joked. "But I'll live."
Daichi pranced in just then, jumping from chair to table. "Big brother, big brother!"
"What is it?" Inuyasha swallowed and licked his lips.
"Hurry up and play with me!" He tugged at his hair impatiently.
"Daichi dear, Inuyasha needs to rest now," Mayu said.
"Please, big brother, just for a little bit!" Daichi whined.
"I guess I don't have a choice," Inuyasha said.
He and Mayu shared a look. Mayu shrugged as if to say 'well, what can you do' and Inuyasha huffed, a smile playing on his lips. He held his hand out for Daichi and the young fox demon took ahold of his fingers and led him to the gardens, where they played a game of tag together. It was difficult for Inuyasha—he found himself limping along for most of the game. All things considered though, Inuyasha found that Daichi was surprisingly quick on his feet for someone of his size.
They plopped down on the grass after a while, laying on their backs and staring up at the bright, blue sky. Inuyasha closed his eyes, breathing in the warm summer air. He suddenly found that he felt out of breath.
"Big brother, are you ok?" Daichi asked, sniffing around him. Blood was seeping through Inuyasha's kimono.
Inuyasha tried to sit up, but only managed to prop himself up on one elbow. "Can you call Mayu for me?"
Daichi nodded and ran off frantically.
As soon as Daichi was gone, Inuyasha fell back on the grass. His head was spinning from blood loss and fatigue.
"Inuyasha!" Mayu called out, running over with Daichi in her arms. The fox demon jumped onto the ground when Mayu knelt beside Inuyasha. "Let's get you inside," she said.
Inuyasha could only nod weakly. "Too much excitement for one day," he said, his voice barely above a whisper.
"This is no time to joke," Mayu said firmly. She tried to lift Inuyasha up and found that she could not quite move him now that he was no longer conscious. Before she had the chance to try again, she felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up. "Milord!"
Sesshoumaru bent over and gathered Inuyasha in his arms. He waited for signs of distress and when none came, he proceeded back towards the castle.
Walking with Inuyasha close to him like this, Sesshoumaru felt an overwhelming desire to touch him, to have those bright golden eyes look at him with the same warmth he had not too long ago. He had not realized how meaningful Inuyasha had become to him, how necessary it was to have him by his side.
The demon lord made his way up to Inuyasha's room, gently placing him on the bed. The healer had already been called and immediately began to examine Inuyasha, dressing his wounds as needed. Sesshoumaru stood by, silently watching on.
Inuyasha shifted, beads of sweat forming on his forehead. The healer tried to hold him down, but his thrashing became more violent and his breathing heavier. Ebony strands, wet with sweat, were strewn across his forehead and cheek. He seemed to be reaching for something, hands openly searching and mouth forming soundless words. His eyes were restless behind closed lids.
Sesshoumaru reached out, grasping Inuyasha's hand tightly in his.
"Jaken," he called out.
Jaken scurried in, head bowed. "Milord."
"We leave for the North at dawn."