It took him a week to track the sky palace this time.
His mother was playing with him.
Upon its appearance in the clouds, Sesshoumaru marched up the stairs to his mother’s throne as if he had not been inconvenienced and lost a week’s worth of time with his pregnant wife. Though he had often spent months without seeing her before their marriage, his time with her was more precious now. He was careful with it. His mother likely knew this, and he would not give her the satisfaction of seeing him irritated.
Jaken had been left behind with Rin as her protector and to keep him from making this experience even more unpleasant than it already would be. He didn’t protest for once. He claimed it was due to valuing his duty of keeping Rin safe- in truth, Sesshoumaru knew he wanted nothing to do with The Lady Mother.
And here she was, sprawled on her throne with her fur about her shoulders, her fingers tracing the Meido stone as if she was drawing attention to it. Sesshoumaru’s eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to it, despite himself, and he had to fight the urge to grimace at the memories it dredged up.
“Sesshoumaru,” the Lady said, all but purring. “What a lovely surprise.”
“You’ve been teasing me,” he said, curtly. “It isn’t a surprise. You knew I was searching.”
“Mmph,” she sulked, insincerely. “You’ve only just arrived and you’re already accusing me of terrible things. What is it that’s so important?”
He waited for her to admit she already knew, and when she didn’t, he narrowed his eyes. “Don’t force me to tell you what you’re already well aware of, Mother.”
She heaved a dramatic sigh. “You’re no fun today. I miss when you were a little boy. Such a gentle thing.”
As he recalled, he spent his days being taught the virtue of self-reliance which meant long days as a pup spent eating small animals and being chased by larger demons until the poison in his claws kicked in. Gentle was not a trait he had valued at any point in his life until now. She was trying to get a rise out of him. She wanted him to spit the words out with venom so she could mock him for his temper, rather than admit she’d already processed the information.
His refusal to give and her refusal to do anything but feign ignorance reached an impasse, and the Lady broke first. “You’re going to have half-breed children with that little peasant girl. It hasn’t reached all the lands yet, but I hear things.” She stroked the Meido stone. “Sometimes I speak to familiar faces as they pass. You killed a fairly powerful demon the other day. He was an old acquaintance.”
Sesshoumaru could not recall anything about that demon except that he had been drawn to the scent of his unborn children and had tried to go after Rin. Its execution was swift and what life it had previously had no meaning to him. It had been a weak beast that had gotten in his way, and nothing more.
The Lady, seeing no reaction, decided to try a new tactic, “Tell me, do you intend to play with her until she is withered and dead and then strangle the half-breed bastards to conserve your legacy?”
And there. The point of this. “They will not be bastards.”
His mother’s laugh cut off abruptly.
“And there will be no other heirs.”
He had knocked her so completely off-guard that now it was her turn to stare silently, waiting for further clarification. “You can’t be serious.”
“I want no heirs unless they’re with Rin. I will not repeat Father’s mistakes.”
She rested her chin on her hand. “You seem to be quite good at doing just that.”
He ignored the jab, and simply pressed on.
“Whatever relationship you two had, it was merely contractual.” Sesshoumaru eyed her, as if daring her to deny it. “It was the human woman Izayoi-“ he had never spoken her name out loud before, now that he thought about it, “-he ran to in his last moments. I will no longer pretend that I was ever his true heir. I am whatever I choose to be, independent of him.
“But you are his heir, you foolish boy,” the Lady pinched her nose. “You’ve inherited his title, his lands- what more could you possibly want?”
“I don’t want any of it. That’s the point of my finding you.”
Another prolonged silence. He filled it before she could, “From now on, I renounce my claim to Father’s lands and title. I walk my own path.”
The Lady straightened a bit in her seat, as regal as a queen. “This isn’t something you can take back in a few decades, Sesshoumaru.” She put a stress on every word, all serious now, making sure he understood it. “If you forfeit everything to marry that girl and be nothing but her demon husband and father to her half-breed brats, then you will have nothing when they’re dust.”
Sesshoumaru held her gaze, “Then I rebuild from nothing. What has legacy truly earned me, Mother? A fang that I am ill-equipped to use as Father expected it to be used. A brother that he poured more effort into making stronger, all because he believed I was already strong. Perhaps that much he was right about, but that I came by myself, not because of his tests and games.”
Perhaps a little bit because of his tests and games. It was Tenseiga that brought him Rin, in the first place, but what he had now, beyond that, lived independently of his father’s legacy. He had chosen all of this, his father’s nudging from the grave be damned. “I won’t diminish what I’ve gained by returning to his shadow.”
The Lady heaved a sigh and slumped, “I can’t convince you otherwise, so I won’t waste my breath.”
“I never intended to come here to hear your protestations. I just thought you should know.”
He pivoted on his heels and began to walk, and just as he reached the first step, The Lady called after him. “Is she really worth that much to you, Sesshoumaru? You're the last purebred demon of your father's line. You'd truly end the line with yourself just to spite him?”
He glanced behind him. “Father tried to have everything. Perhaps he would have lived longer if he had picked his battles better. If I have learned anything from him, it’s that you can’t defend anything if you try to defend everything. And it was he who brought half-demons into his line first. I'm merely refusing to make them compete with pureblooded siblings.”
“Sesshoumaru the Protector. Sesshoumaru the Considerate, ” the Lady mocked, half-gently, half-incredulous, as if she was still debating how she felt about this. “It doesn’t suit you.”
He denied her a response and continued to walk- away from her and away from the last dredges of what his father had left for him, leaving him with the only thing he’d given him that mattered.
Yes, he had something to protect.
And for as long as he could, that was all he was going to do.