Flesh of His Flesh
Chapter Four: Contemplation

Sesshomaru sat in the chair beside Inuyasha's bed and watched his family sleeping. Inuyasha had curled around Kuniku protectively while Rin had made a nest in the pillows on the other side of the bed. Her foot was poking out of the blanket that he had put over her. Watching them, he wondered how it was that two of the things he'd once hated most suddenly became precious to him. His half brother and a human were both lying snugly in his bed. At one time, they'd both be lying in pools of their own blood, but not now. Now, he felt the need to protect them, even if it still ground against some part buried deep inside of him.

Somewhere inside, a feral beast was screaming in outrage, but it would calm with time. Even the beast within could see the value of keeping its mate and young safe. That was how Inuyasha and Rin had found their way in. They had taken up the roles of mate and child almost without him noticing. It had all started with Rin. Something inside him had driven him to save the small child that had tried to help him regardless of the pain it caused her. It had made him realize that not all humans were as he thought they were. Within their frail bodies they had a great capacity for love and compassion, something that there was not enough of. Even he, a demon, could recognize the fact that Rin was a special child.

So when he found her on the path, he had done the only thing that he could, he saved her. He had cut the chains of death that bound her and had taken up her small form to carry her to safety. At first, he had let her tag along merely out of obligation. He had saved her, so that made him responsible for her. He made sure that she didn't die again but that was all. He didn't pay much attention to her or what her diet was, she never voiced complaints so he let it slide. He was appalled the day he walked upon her trying to eat the dried out body of a lizard. The tail was hanging out of her small mouth as she looked up at him pitifully. He had forced her mouth open and removed the half chewed creature and thrown it away distastefully. Rin had cried and tried to look for her meal but he picked her up and carried her to the nearest human town where he bought her a proper meal.

It was then that he stopped treating her as a burden and started acting like a parent to his little human foundling. They had gone shopping in a large trading town, picking out new clothes to replace her dirty rags. She was fitted in small silk kimonos with matching ribbons to put in her hair. Small sandals were made special to fit her feet. Painted wooden toys and delicately made dolls were put into a carved trunk for her to play with. Cheerful decorations for her room, special chopsticks just her size, no expense was spared as he outfitted the girl with everything a small child could possibly want or need.

The goods had to be hauled back to his castle in a large cart and on the whole return trip Rin had sat beside him playing with one of her new dolls. Her favorite treasure though had been the black lacquered box he had picked up from the toy maker. Inside the box was a collection of paints, charcoal pencils, colored wax sticks, rainbow inks, brushes, quills and large squares of paper. Rin had taken great delight in designing fantastically colorful pieces of art on her paper squares. She proudly stuck them to the walls of her room and when she ran out of paper she had begun to decorate the walls of the house. Jaken had found her at it and scolded her. Sesshomaru had stepped in just as the small toad demon tried to hit her with his staff. He told Rin that she could decorate as much as she wanted. Jaken had huffed and stormed off in a rage. Sesshomaru had hidden a smile behind the smaller demon's back. He took great delight in annoying his servant and Rin presented endless opportunities. He had patted Rin on the head, complimented her bright rainbow on his once plain walls and left feeling strangely content.

Where Rin had started his mellowing process, Inuyasha had somehow managed to reap the benefits. It wasn't the half-demon himself who convinced Sesshomaru to accept his half brother so much as it was Naraku who made him take stock of their relationship. Demons by nature were mischievous creatures, but not necessarily evil. There were plenty of bloodthirsty monsters but in essence a demon was a powerful spirit that could lean towards good or evil. Because power corrupts, most demons chose to use their powers against the weaker humans but they were not necessarily evil. Sesshomaru had done many things that other people would consider evil but on a whole his nature was quite neutral and he was able to walk whatever path he chose. Naraku was a creature like none he'd ever experienced. Naraku was pure evil that sent warning signals screaming through all his senses.

His first run-in with Naraku had been unpleasant. Naraku had used him, an experience that had been new to Sesshomaru. Nobody manipulated a demon as powerful as himself, but Naraku had. That first encounter had left him with a bad taste in his mouth. Naraku was dangerous, his pores oozed ill will and the air around him thickened with malice. The fact that the demon showed unnatural interest in his half brother had left him unsettled. At first he felt that nobody had the right to kill Inuyasha but himself. Inuyasha was the disgrace of their family, a half-breed cur that shouldn't have been allowed to live.

But his father had gone soft; he seemed to hold deep feelings for the human woman, as he never had for Sesshomaru's own mother. In fact, Sesshomaru hardly knew a thing about his mother. She had abandoned him to his father's care soon after his birth and his father had never really spoke of her. Perhaps it said something for the human woman that she had stayed and raised her shunned child, loved him unconditionally despite his mixed heritage while his own noble demon mother had fled leaving her child behind. Despite that, Inuyasha had been a spot in their family's bloodline, a tainted thing with weak human blood in his veins.

And yet their father loved the little mongrel. He showed him affection that brought anger and contempt to Sesshomaru's heart. The emotions that his father had begun to show were a weakness and in the end had led to his downfall, in Sesshomaru's mind. For that alone, Inuyasha should be killed; the fact that he caused the painful loss of his limb had only added insult to injury. Re-growing a limb was a long and painful process that he did not wish to experience again. The need to kill his brother and steal their father's powerful gift had been even stronger, at least until Naraku.

Naraku's hounding of his brother had annoyed him. Inuyasha was his to toy with. The other demon had no right to play with his brother in such a way. Naraku's tricks were depths to which he would never stoop and Sesshomaru found them distasteful. He had resented Naraku's haunting of his brother but hadn't really made much a move to stop it. He'd let the other demon harass his brother, pulling at his emotions and forcing him to fight for his life all while Sesshomaru watched from a distance annoyed, but not stepping in.

After his revelation with Rin, he had begun to interfere more. Inuyasha was of his blood. Now that his father was dead, he was left as head of their family and he took his blood heritage responsibly. If it meant that he had to protect Inuyasha, then he would. He began a process of late night battles with his brother. He would follow their group and lure his brother away during the nights to battle. Inuyasha had never gotten formal training. He depended a lot on his greater strength to fight. Unfortunately, there were creatures out there with strength that rivaled his brother's so through a process of trial and error he began to direct Inuyasha's fighting skills.

Sesshomaru would exploit Inuyasha's weak points and little by little the half-demon began to cover them better and better. As Inuyasha's skills grew, their hatred eased in the face of greater danger of a mutual enemy. It had been one such visit that something strange had happened. The night had felt like every other. He'd used subtle signs such as a whiff of scent and a small flex of power to lead his brother away from the main group. They had begun their fight in an empty field under the light of the full moon when something happened.

The sight, the scent, the presence of his brother had drawn him like gravity. That night they mated under the moon, panting and sweating and biting they had moved together in wild copulation. The night had been a strange erotic blur, but it was the morning that stuck in his mind the most. He had awoken curled around the smaller form of his half brother. Still drawn, they mated once more, but it had been slower unlike the wild frantic fornication of the night before. Their bodies had moved together in the rhythm of lovers, golden eyes locked on each other as they reached a shattering release together. It was then that he bit Inuyasha, marking his shoulder. It was that mark that Inuyasha now bore, showing the world that he belonged to Sesshomaru and no other.

After that time he had stayed away from Inuyasha's group, trying to deal with the confusion that sprung up from their encounter. It had been wrong. Not because they were half brothers, the product of the same father, but rather because he thought that he hated Inuyasha and vice versa. He felt that it was a weakness that he had given in to the desires of his body and mated with his brother, no matter how beautiful the half-demon was. He had stayed at his castle focusing his attention on Rin and spending time in meditation in his gardens until he'd stumbled upon the group again. He had been shocked to discover their tiny son. He had expected many things to come from their night together, but a child had not been one of them. He found that he didn't regret it though. In fact, he was very happy that they were able to have a child together. In a way, Kuniku was forcing them to reevaluate their relationship both as brothers and mates. Or lovers, as the humans would say.

He found himself falling into the role of mate with surprising ease, even though Inuyasha was still uncomfortable. He was surprised with his own acceptance of the situation, expecting more resistance from his inner demon but finding very little. Even the demon in him agreed that he needed to take responsibility for his mate and child. So it was that Sesshomaru collected a family that consisted of the two things he once hated most. His attitude was shifting.

He still didn't care for humans and he still had problems with his brother, but he was learning to deal with them both. Inflexibility was not an option. He would have to move with the strange flow of life or else not live at all. He chose to go with it. With an amused smile on his face, he fixed the blanket that covered Rin, tucking her small foot under the soft material. He ran his hand gently over the blanket that Inuyasha had wrapped Kuniku in, feeling the soft rise and fall of his son's breath. Finally, he ran his fingers over Inuyasha's fall of white hair as he slid easily onto the bed and curled his body around that of his mate. It wasn't where he would have ever imagined himself to be, but now that he found himself there he felt content. With that strangely warm feeling sitting in his chest, he allowed himself to join his family in sleep.