Disclaimer: Inuyasha Rumiko Takahashi, Shounen Sunday, Shueisha, blahblahblah, etc. etc. Hero in the 21st Century Kristine Batey. This is written because Sesshoumaru is a sexy, sexy bastard and I like sneaking my OTPs into canon/fanon when I can. ^___^;

A Hero21 Sesshoumaru Challenge Story
by Fushigi Kismet

He followed us after I restored his life, and thereby incurred both my irritation and his sister's anxiety. The useless woman could not keep him and with regret - mine - let him go. He fancied himself part of my retinue, but kept a good distance from and healthy fear of me. After all, it was her he followed in gratitude. It was her he worshipped and adored with all the enthusiasm of an ill-raised puppy.

He loves her in that small human fashion of loving.

His love cannot grow beyond his humanity even as he cannot exceed the deficiencies of his human nature despite no longer being bound by the limitations of a human existence.

When demons love, it is for eternity.

My younger brother knows something of what it means to love this way, or else he could not still love a woman who smells of soil and death. But he is only half demon and like a human, in time, all things will also pass and he will turn to other loves.

Humans are still bound by that foolish concept of time.

I raised her like a demon. She loves him, it is true, in that small human way. But she loves me like a demon loves.

She calls me "Father" now with a dutiful tone, but as she says the word her eyes are veiled and sometimes when she looks at me I still see the spark of fire in her eyes.

I gifted him to her many years ago, to serve as husband, lover . . . all the things I could not be for fear of losing myself to her. I am not my father. I cannot renounce the things that make me who and what I am and still remain myself. I have not that power.

For all that I am, I am not my father's son.

And yet, in many ways, I am. I have, despite myself, inherited his flaws along with his graces. Just as he could not refuse the human woman he chose, so, too, I cannot refuse the woman I put at my side that long ago time when she was but a child, wide-eyed and tenderhearted - the woman and child whose life I allowed to intertwine with my own.

It was a Spring long lost to human memory when I made my choice. The moment is frozen in amber and neither changes nor is muddled by the passing of the years. Perhaps she does not remember it as clearly as I, for to me it is not so much memory as a truth I cannot free myself from, an instant when all my destinies were laid open to me and I chose the only one I could accept. Surely, like my father, I am weaker for my choice.

She looks at me with those eyes, newly full of understanding and regret as I stand in her doorway, my eyes focused not on her but on the blooming sakura outside, on the distant hills and forests of the world. On the infinite sky.

Her kimono is loosely fastened, her hair unbound. She still smells of blood and sweat, hers and mine. She still holds my scent and my mark upon her body. I marked her, despite myself. I claimed her, despite myself. And now, I will leave her, despite myself.

She knows that I cannot stay, that I cannot grant the thing she wants most. She knows that no words she can say will sway me. So she does not say them. She says others instead, watching me with those eyes, with the voice that will forever haunt my nights with the memory of her sweet cries.

"Do not leave me behind. I can stand anything so long as you do not leave me behind."

And so I bound her life to the sword - to Tenseiga, hers and his, and granted that they should stay as they were, never aging. It was my wedding gift to her.

I will never touch her. I love her as a demon loves - beyond eternity, the here and now. She knows - we both know - this is how it must be. His body keeps her warm at night; he has sired her children; she may depend upon him to take out the garbage and wash the dinner dishes. She loves him, as a human loves another human, with the smallness of that love. She loves me as a demon loves - as I love her, my only beloved.

If I did not love her I would not have granted her wish. I would have left her to the human world - to the aging and the dying. To the wretchedness of human existence. I would have left her mortal and free.

But because I cannot be without her, I gave her immortality.

A demon's immortality, it is true. We will not live forever. Even we will someday pass away or suffer death at another's hands. But to us the life of a human is like a grain of sand in the desert - small, indistinguishable, inconsequential.

She is a star in the heavens, burning until eternity passes away.