Title: Searching his soul, finding his heart
Authoress: Ladya C. Maxine
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Rin has disappeared, abducted by a new foe. Determined to retrieve his pup, Sesshoumaru's search takes him near the mountains where he happens upon a certain wolf prince... A Sesshoumaru/Kouga yaoi fic.
Warning(s): yaoi, mild language, some violence

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of its characters. All unrecognizable characters belong solely to me so do not touch. I am not making any money off of this and write with the sole intention to entertain.

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"My lord, can't we take a ressst?" Jaken panted, trotting fast to keep up with the tall figure whose regal gaits lead them through the wooded area. "We have been walking sssince dawn."

The silver-haired youkai's face remained passive, as always; his golden gaze fixed indifferently on the forest road that lay before them. The cool breeze stirred the soft fur of his tail, brushing it against his cheek though he didn't even blink.

Grumbling miserably, the small toad demon fell silent, gripping his staff in one small, gnarled hand while tugging at the reigns of his lord's beast, the two-headed youkai choosing to be somewhat stubborn on this day, stopping to look around or to simply rest on the ground.

They had spent the night in a small clearing on the outer borders of the mountain realm however before the first ray even peaked from behind the mountain ranges they had been awoken by the lord youkai. Jaken hadn't requested an explanation for the early departure since he was still nursing a sore spot on his head where his lord had struck him yesterday when he had scolded that little brat of a mortal for being too loud.

Speaking of which, why was it so quiet and he, despite his weariness, so at peace?

Looking around for the bumbling lump of flesh with a mouth, he felt a jolt of joy for the first time that day when he didn't see her. She had been sitting on the beast's back but the saddle was now empty. Could it be that a higher power had finally heard his prayers?

"Or maybe she wandered off and got her foolish self lost," he mused quietly, not wanting to alert his lord of the child's disappearance. Perhaps, after they have reached a far enough distance, Lord Sesshoumaru would not bother with going back to look for her!

Unfortunately for Jaken, his lord had indeed heard his soft spoken words.

Silently, he looked over at his loyal steed which stood bare-backed. His Rin was no longer on the beasts back where he had left her. However, he could still smell her mortal scent which meant that she must have wandered off into the trees.

"Perhaps ssshe found sssomeone of her own kind," Jaken offered hopefully, still praying that they could rid themselves of her despite Lord Sesshoumaru's discovery. "Or maybe ssshe encountered another pack of wolvesss--Ai!!"

Ignoring the cry of pain from his servant, who now rubbed a new lump on his head, Sesshoumaru re-sheeted his sword.

"Find her."

"B-but my lord...." He faltered when the amber eyes narrowed ever so slightly at his loitering. Bowing, he started to retrace their path, grumbling to himself.

"Ssstupid girl! Dissrupting the great Lord Sessshoumaru with her foolissshnesss. Making me go looking for her and holding usss up. Rotten, little--"

"Jaken-sama!"

"ACK!!"

Sesshoumaru remained emotionless when the unsuspecting Jaken was suddenly burdened with an armful of the pup, causing them both to land in a cloud of dust. His pup giggled as she sat on the only member of their group who was smaller than her, now sprawled out beneath her.

"Rin win! Rin win!"

"Get off me, you little bundle of misery!"

Giggling, she hopped off the dazed toad. Seeing the tall figure of her guardian, she smiled wider and started skipping towards him, clutching a small bouquet of flowers she had just recently picked.

"Sesshoumaru-sama! Lookie!"

He calmly watched as she ran over, black hair swinging and bouncing with each step. His expression didn't change even when she halted a few inches before him, craning her neck back to look up into his face. The flowers were presented with eager eyes.

"Rin pick them for Sesshoumaru-sama. They smell nice."

When he made no move to take them, she stood on her tiptoes and tucked them into the elaborate yellow sash he always wore around his armoured waist, securing them in between the two swords' pommels.

"Pretty," she beamed.

Looking at the bright pink petals which contrasted starkly with his dark armour, he blinked and stared back down at her expecting gaze.

"Do not stray again," he warned softly, his elaborate tail swirling behind him as he turned and continued on without another word.

Not many seconds passed before he heard the small pitter-patter of her bare feet as she ran up next to him. He disciplined his natural venom flow beforehand since he already knew what was to come next. Sure enough, he felt a tiny hand take hold of his own, her soft skin coming in dangerous proximity with his lethal claws.

Physical contact was something he had always avoided, except when in battle. It had taken him some days to adjust to his pup's hands-on presence. Though Jaken was, luckily, Rin's first choice as a playmate, running after the screaming toad and pestering him for the greater part of their journey, she was very fond of holding her lord's hand or hugging him or playing with his tail, though the latter still irritated him at times.

His Rin had been with them for almost a month and, as a natural loner, he had at first kept his distance from her, merely feeding her and ensuring that she remained out of trouble. Already such actions had been very unlike him. However, though his outer facade was as emotionless as ever, he had slowly started to tolerate her, even care for her. He soon found himself punishing Jaken whenever he would berate the little mortal.

Now, he felt extremely protective over his Rin. His pup.

"Where is Sesshoumaru-sama taking Rin and Jaken-sama?"

"Don't bother Lord Sesshoumaru with your petty quessstionsss, girl," Jaken, shaking the dirt out of his kimono, snapped, catching up with them and walking on the other side of the silent youkai. Behind them, the beast loyally followed. "He hasss more important--"

"We travel to the mountain path."

"Yay!" Rin cheered while Jaken fumed. His lord, who he had served loyally for many years, answered a mere child and not him.

His opinion on the matter wasn't brought forward, though, as Rin dodged before Sesshoumaru, grabbing the small frog demon in a choking embrace. Recoiling in her arms, he immediately started to struggle, mindful not to hurt her since his lord would do the same to him though much more painfully.

"Jaken-sama and Rin race Sesshoumaru-sama to the mountains!"

With that, she took off, running down the path, her laugher drowning out Jaken's loud cursing as he bounced along in her arms, arms and legs failing in a vain attempt to find unmoving ground. Not sensing any immediate danger in the area, he left the girl to her antics. It also ridded him of Jaken's endless gibbering for some time. As loyal as the toad was, his constant talking had a negative effect on the youkai lord who preferred silence.

She was small, as was her progress, so his pace didn't change. However, he gave his steed a single side-ward glance and with an obedient snort, it lumbered off after the two to keep its twin pair of eyes on them. Up ahead, he heard Jaken's desperate shouts.

"Let go!! Ai, damn it!! Ouch!! Ssstupid little..."

Keeping in mind to 'discus' Jaken's choice of words when around his pup, Sesshoumaru's thoughts were interrupted when his nostrils flared slightly, catching on to a scent that had not been there before; one that he didn't like though its origin was not familiar to him.

Halting once more, he calmly regarded his surroundings but his ears and eyes could detect nothing threatening. Still, a clawed hand drifted to his fighting sword's hilt, its leather binding hissing softly as a single drop of venom leaked from one of his razor sharp claws.

Nothing stirred around him and after a few moments he was about to dismiss it when it came again, fainter this time. Whatever it was was moving away from his position.

'Strange...and challenging.'

Up ahead, he heard a loud thud, particularly loud cursing from Jaken and Rin crying. The smell of stirred dirt and fresh blood was all he needed to know that his pup had tripped and hurt herself. Her injuries were no doubt minimal; as she had most likely landed on Jaken, breaking her fall, and her light weight couldn't bring much damage to his toad servant. Regretfully.

Rin's cries grew louder and he felt a stir of discomfort, something extremely rare, in him. Alone, he wouldn't have cared less to face whatever it was that still lurked beyond his keen sight in the trees. However, this unidentified being posed a threat to his pup and he felt the urge to get her as far away from this area as possible.

'Consider yourself fortunate,' he send his thoughts out to this invisible threat before making his way to where Rin's cries still rang out, his pace somewhat quickened this time.

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"Clumsssy little oaf...ssstupid retarded mortal..."

Jaken sat on a rock, muttering to himself as he bandaged his scrapes and cuts, which were quite deep since he had taken the full force of Rin's trip. Somehow, the foolish girl had missed seeing the branch that lay quite openly in the middle of the road. His ears still rang from her screeching; all she had gotten was a small scrape on her knee and still she insisted on making a scene of it.

"...jusst wantsss attention..."

From where he sat leaning against the massive trunk of a tree while cleaning his swords, Sesshoumaru paid no attention to the bruised and battered toad's mumbling, his mind once more elsewhere in solemn contemplation. This had been the safest place to stop for the night but he remained vigilant.

The moon shone high above them in the velvety dark-blue skies, its silver light sparkling across the clearing's jaded green grass. A small fire crackled within its temporary pit, above its flames a fish that Rin had caught in a nearby creel for her dinner. She had learned from early on that while travelling with them anything she needed she had to get herself. Except for red meat; she usually got that from him when he hunted since she was too small to hunt anything down herself.

His pup's scent alerted him and he looked up to find her standing before him, holding a sheet of paper. She had been silent for the past hour, content with lying next to his steed and drawing her childish pictures with the inks he had given her, which he had gotten from the pack of the child he had slain, along with the boy's small travelling family, a few weeks ago. He didn't normally eat mortal flesh, but the pickings had been slim and he hadn't eaten for some time.

"For Sesshou-sama," she beamed, holding the drawing out proudly.

He had learned that with his pup, things were never really clear. This included the drawing she waved before his face. Splatters and crooked lines in bright colours shone wetly in the moonlight, portraying something that only her young eyes and mind could see.

"Like it?" she asked when he said nothing.

"What is it?" he inquired, still unable to decipher the strange image on the paper.

"Us." Mindful of the razor-sharp blade of his sword, she climbed into his lap, settling back into the fluff of his tail. With a small finger, she pointed out.

"This one is Sesshoumaru-sama."

Actually curious, he studied the stick figure which had been drawn with a long...thing...he could only assume to be his tail. A small green stump beside him with a brown stripe was Jaken.

"Where are you?"

"Here."

'Rin' was a few blotches of black, for her hair, which he at first had thought to be his armour but now proved to be her painted in his arms.

"I wanted to paint Ah and Un, but I have no more green paint. I use it all to draw Jaken-sama." Leaning in in conspiracy, she whispered, "He's fatter than he looks."

He simply stared at her, well understanding the humour behind her words but not showing any on his face. Years of solitude had deprived him of much emotions and he liked it that way. Though having a pup now had brought on an emotion he hadn't felt for most of his life; caring. Despite her proud face, her eyes were drooping with sleep.

"Get your rest."

She smiled and nodded silently. Crawling off his lap, she placed her drawing on the soft grass, weighing down the edges with stones to allow it to dry. Satisfied, she then climbed over his tail and nuzzled against his side, sleepily rubbing her eyes. When she had finally settled in, he wrapped his tail around her to protect her from the night chill. She sighed in content and buried her face in the soft fur and soon drifted off to sleep.

He watched her as she slept, face serene.

He had encountered many mortal cubs during his life and they had all suffered the same fate as the adults. Regardless of age, a mortal was a weakling, and he abhorred weakness. Mortals were pathetic; their life spans were ridiculously short, their bodies held no strength, they had no powers whatsoever to speak of, and in general he found them to be not very intelligent.

And yet, however, though all of this applied to his Rin too, he didn't care. He had never used the sword given to him by his father before, and yet, despite all the deaths he had experience, he had used it to bring her to life.

Only her.

His Rin.

His pup.

She stirred in her sleep and he absently placed a robed arm around her, listening as she mumbled softly, the words 'help' and 'wolf' the most repeated. She still had those nightmares. Her experience of death at the jaws of the wild canines was one that not even Tenseiga's powers could rectify.

He had spent the past nights watching out over their camp and despite the pure youkai blood that flowed through his veins he too needed a few hours of respite. Assured that his sharp senses would easily detect the smallest disturbance, he rested his head back against the tree behind him, one arm around his pup while the other rested lightly on the hilt of his sword.

Slowly, he drifted off to sleep.

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He knew not how long he had been asleep but his eyes suddenly flew open and he sat up.

The moon was low in the sky as sunrise was but a couple of hours away. The camp was silent; his steed rested sound fully near the smouldering ashes of the fire and he could see the small huddled form of Jaken nearby.

And yet, something was most definitely wrong. It took him no longer than a second to know what.

'Rin…'

She was gone, as if having been swallowed up by the night.

tbc..............

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