This fic centers around my favorite IY couple and is only two chapters long, so it's almost a sure thing that I will in fact, finish this story. I don't own Inuyasha and enjoy!


Where The Heart Is

Chapter One: Setting the Stage

By Rio Grande


Ten Years After The Defeat Of Naraku.


It was a mild, clear spring night, with throngs of fireflies dancing picturesquely in the distance, lighting up the country side like a natural string of softly glowing paper lanterns, which created a luminescent web amongst the dark density of the surrounding forest. The brightest light source of all that night, however, came from the magnificent form of the Western Demon Palace, created of white marble and sitting atop a hill in the very center of the enchanted woods. It acted as a virtual epicenter for the elated fireflies as they danced themselves into a sweet oblivion around the structure, imagining that it was their lord they had pledged an undying allegiance to, the brightest star of all as far as they could tell. Their sparkling presence gave the already poignant atmosphere of the palace a more magical feel.

And within the almost enchanted castle, the Spring Gala was just getting into full swing, even though the clock had long since struck midnight. However, this sort of night-owl behavior was only to be expected of the type of guests that were attending this particular ball.

Within the palace walls, illuminated by hanging chandeliers and sometimes by their own mystical lights that surrounded them like glowing shrouds, were demons of every conceivable shape and form. A collection of at least six dozen of them were gathered together in the palace, creating quite a memorable picture. Contrary to the mortal's popular belief that all demons were bloodcurdling, terrifying creatures incapable of appreciation towards the finer aspects of life, these demons seemed to be the very essence of style and art, as beings that could only be described as horrifically beautiful drifted through long carpeted halls and dazzling rooms constructed of blindingly white marble.

The guests were dressed in an array of colorful robes, formed of silk and satin that were so fine a quality one doubted if even the highest rank of human royalty had ever seen such exquisitely crafted garments. Most of the demons came with the accessories and jewelry to match their outfits, waltzing around the palace with diamonds the size of their curiously tinted eyes hanging from their necks and dripping off their long graceful fingers.

However, out of all of the demons at the party hosted in the famed Western Palace of the Inu Youkai that night, the Lord and Master of the house had to be by far the most beautiful figure present. He easily surpassed the excellence of all of his guests, which was quite a difficult feat to pull off considering the utterly devastating beauties that had chosen to attend the party.

Never the less, the fact remained that Sesshomaru, famed Lord of the Western Lands, (Or, 'Sesshomaru the Bloody' as he was known to some mortals.) was indeed a splendid picture of radiance that night. His silver white hair, trailing all the way down his muscular back in a sea of perfectly groomed moonlight, accented by the golden glow of his predatory eyes, made him look particularly enthralling that evening. The purple half moon on his forehead served as a sharp contrast to the viscous black stripes on either cheek bone, and spoke of his powerful demon heritage – as did his perfectly chiseled features that made him look akin to some sort of carefully crafted statue rather than a real breathing entity. He was so beautiful some would call him feminine, and others otherworldly.

He wore robes of pure ivory black and shimmering maroon, his impressive pure white tail rapped around his shoulders; its usual resting place. He wore no shoes, and bore no jewelry, but with his utterly flawless skin and perfectly tended three inch nails – it was agreed by all that this was just as well. Sesshomaru had no need for accessories, for he was born with features that required nothing to highlight his natural urbanity and effervescent countenance.

However, Sesshomaru was indeed so beautiful that his almost unnaturally perfect features often times scared those of lowers classes – that is to say, almost anyone who was not in the hierarchy of the demon world. The lesser demons were intimidated by his obvious surplus of power and strength they knew attributed to his lovely visage, and mortals found themselves awed into silence in his presence, unsure whether to idolize or fear such a striking figure of the likes they could scarcely ever dream of. Indeed, there seemed to be few who could handle the likes of Sesshomaru, which was most likely why he refused to associate with those below his own class. Very few indeed, with the obvious exception of, naturally ....

The mortal Lady Rin.

Said human was in attendance at the ball that night, which was only appropriate considering that she lived in the Western Palace as well, and had been doing so peacefully for the past decade. As the only mortal at the celebration, one would assume that the young woman would be a sharp and ugly contrast to all of the impossibly beautiful demons around her, with their exotic yet flawless features. However, Rin had such a pure heart and honest light to her, that it seemed to more than compensate for her lack of demon lineage. As she sat amongst groups of beings that were considered to be far superior to her, Rin seemed to house a little light of her own, one that made her creamy, freckled skin glow entrancingly, give her long raven hair an extra layer of shimmer, and made her large, hopeful brown eyes twinkle twice as brightly.

Her small glossy pink lips appeared to be ever curved into a welcoming smile, and her upturned nose and jovial disposition gave her an air of innocence no demon in attendance could ever hope to obtain. This enabled her come off as far more attractive to some of the demons at the ball than that of their own kind, for it is a well known fact that all creatures thirst most greedily for the things they know they can never possess, and innocence and virtue is something that a demon is born forever lacking.

Not that Rin would ever have been less accepted among the demons of importance in the world had she been born ugly as a toad - for she was in the favor of the mighty Sesshomaru, and this fact alone canceled out any possible criticisms other demons might have had for the young girl – not that there was any to begin with.

That night Rin had been dressed by the palace servants in a shimmering pink kimono, tediously embroidered with needle thin threads of dark magenta to form cherry blossom trees and birds that flew gracefully along the length of her body. The obi was a golden color, wrapping around her thin middle and forming a intricate knot on her back she never could have completed herself even if she had wished to. The outfit was stunning, and Rin knew for a fact that the combined wages of every single man and woman from the village she had been born in would not be able to afford the kimono she now so casually wore.

Standing silently behind the lovely girl, their faces schooled to be impassive and blank to the point where their expressions rivaled that of their own master, were two Inu Youkai servants. Misa and Kira were twin Inu females who had long offered their services to the house of the Inu Royalty, as had their ancestors for many generations. They bore the typical stripes of a full Inu Demon, with half a star on either of their foreheads. Pale, off-white hair was swept into identical buns on the back of their heads, and they were dressed in violet robes with pink obis to compliment their mistress's own outfit. Sharp, orange catlike eyes kept a wary lookout as they stoically guarded Rin from the shadows, ready to leap into action should anything threaten the delicate mortal female they had been assigned to protect from the minute the small child had entered the halls of Sesshomaru's vast compound, nearly ten years ago today.

The two demons went everywhere with Rin, even to the lush gardens that surrounded the palace on all sides when she wished to create a stunning bouquet, one of her few household talents. This night, however, they had trailed Rin as she traveled into a cozy corner of the ball room where she now sat delicately atop a stone bench, conversing with a Princess of the Water Kappa and a young Bull Demon noble.

"Ah, Lady Rin, your Master simply throws the most stunning balls of all the demon royalty." The Water Sprite Princess, her Royal Highness Kazukami, gushed in her own throaty purr. Her smooth skin was tinted a soft blue that worked as a great contrast with her vacant, bright red eyes, and her jet black hair was arranged in a complicated bun that involved ribbons, chopsticks and various jewel encrusted clips. She wore a creamy white and silver dress that hung off her chest and hips in a way that accented her very well endowed physique, and left her long her arms, complete with webbed hands, totally bare. Her features suggested that her mother might have been one of the famed sirens that lured many a sailor to his death with her tantalizing calls and striking beauty.

"Yes, Sesshomaru-sama does seem to have a talent for throwing extravagant parties," Rin conceded with a broad, amiable smile that didn't quite seem to reach her warm brown eyes.

"I believe that Sesshomaru is one of the only remaining demons of royal descent who still has the power to call nearly the entire demon kingdom to him all at once. No other demon could host a party with this diverse a crowd of powerful demons, especially in these times of animosity and dilution of noble blood among the demon population. His influence is vast indeed." Jouyazu, a dashing young bull demon from the North commented firmly, his harsh yet handsome features turning towards Rin as he spoke. His face seemed human enough, with the exception of his silver eyes, however the two curled horns on either side of his head, not to mention bulging muscles that sprouted from every part of his body, were a dead give away that this young man was anything but human. A heavy looking bronze ring was pierced through his nose, and his robes were a deep forest green.

"Hmmm ... are you suggesting that perhaps even the Kappa royalty cannot compare to the house of Inu?" Princess Kazukami suggested airily, the dangerous undertones in her voice causing Misa and Kira to give the lovely demon a wary glance from behind Rin's smaller form.

"If you think that the Water Sprites of this day and age hold more influence than the Inu Demons...." the well educated Jouyazu snorted, trailing off suggestively. Rin mentally sighed at Jouyazu's incredibly indelicate choice of words – the girl had been living amongst demons for almost as long as she could remember, and although many of them looked as graceful and passive as angels, she knew their blood was quick to boil with malicious hatred because of the evil that coursed naturally through their veins. One had to be very careful with how you talked to a demon, especially when those demons happened to be dwelling in your home currently.

"Well, if that is so, then obviously the Bull Demons of the North 'also' do not possess the staggering drawing power of the Inu Demons." Kazukami stated with a wicked gleam in her pupil-less eyes. Jouyazu's countenance became guarded and protective, and a small ugly sneer appeared on his otherwise unmarred face.

"How can you attempt to compare the Kappa to Bull Youkai when - " he began, his very tone activating piercing alarms in Rin's head. Swiftly and efficiently she came between the two young, hotheaded and powerful demons, a placating smile on her face.

"Now now," she cooed in her lighthearted tone of voice, placing one pale hand on the forearm of either demon firmly. "Why bicker over petty things such as rank and status in the world – we came here to drink and be merry tonight. You are both of the higher class of demons, otherwise you would not be invited to this gala. Why not be thankful for this blessing first, before you begin to worry about other trivial matters?" Rin suggested.

Both demons looked at Rin's hands for a beat, before glancing at each other, and then up at Rin's face, as though calculating what was more important to them at the moment. In the end Rin's status as Sesshomaru's charge gave way to their calumnious anger that was so quick to rise to the surface, as they realized that starting a brawl in the house of Lord Sesshomaru would be a very unwise thing to do indeed. They had seen what happened to disturbers of the peace at supposedly neutral gatherings such as these.

"Thank you Lady Rin, you show wisdom beyond your years," Jouyazu ended up murmuring softly, slowly getting to his feet, his tail thrashing excitedly behind him as he gave a respectful bow to both ladies. "If you'll excuse me," he added, turning and abruptly walking over to the artfully decorated table that offered wine.

"Hmph," Kazukami responded in kind, also getting to her feet, her slinky dress trailing onto the floor as she did so. Rin followed the princess' lead and rose as fast as her heavy dresses would let her – it had taken her many long weeks to master the art of wearing a full kimono once Sesshomaru had started to insist she attend social functions – never once letting her famed smile slip from her face.

"Princess, if you don't mind my suggesting it, why don't we travel to the terrace together?" Rin offered kindly. "Others are gathering there now, and I do believe that in a few minutes there will be a fireworks show for us,"

"Ohhh ... fireworks!" the blue skinned lady gasped, loosing the violent gleam in her eye, just as Rin had hoped she would. "Lord Sesshomaru has never had any of those at his Spring Gala before!"

"Yes, they are unique to this year. I believe he sought out the help of some of the local forest's faeries for this event ..." Rin explained, leading Kazukami across the vast ballroom to the moonlit balcony, where already there was a collection of at least ten other demons.

"I haven't seen fireworks since I was a little sprite!" the princess exclaimed.

On the way to the balcony, Misa and Kira still dutifully trailing behind their charge, Rin passed by a group of butterfly youkai from the far South. They had all been good friends with Sesshomaru's family for some time. They came to the palace more often than other youkai, mainly because the butterfly clan was a passive one and thus very neutral, and they all knew Rin quite well, and were fond of her. Rin had been ecstatic the first time she met them, still just a small girl and unable to believe that her favorite animal made such a breathtaking youkai. They had elfish faces, large pure blue eyes and a wing span of six feet, the colors on their wings rivaling that of the finest dress at the ball.

"Lady Rin," they murmured in their twittering sopranos, bowing their heads respectfully as Rin passed by, her arm linked with the princess'. Rin nodded politely in return, her attention drawn away from her old acquaintances by the sound of distant, crackling explosives.

"Ah, look Lady Rin! The fireworks, their starting!" Kazukami gushed. Rin glanced at the princess, the expression on the Kappa's face one of childish fascination and delight – Rin had to admit, it was both refreshing and amazing to see such a dangerous youkai show signs of such pure and adulterated joy, instead of the princess' usual expression of teasing coyness or suggestive malignancy, as was in her natural makeup. However, at balls like this one, the softer side of all demons tended to show itself.

Once the festivities started and more demons gathered outside to watch the local faeries blow storms of exploding sparkles from their wands and into the midnight blue sky, the princess found some of her kin and quickly went to them. This allowed Rin to sink back into the shadows unnoticed, resting on a pillar with her head lowered ever so slightly. Her smile momentarily slipped from her face before almost forcefully being plastered back on as she distantly watched the multicolored outbursts off to her right.

"Is something the matter, Lady Rin?" Kira asked, her flat tone holding a tinge of uneasy emotion in it as she easily detected the scent of exhaustion and something more worrisome on the younger girl. She and her sister quickly ventured closer to Rin, one standing on either side of the girl. Over the years Kira and Misa had found it nearly impossible not to grow fond of 'Little Lady Rin' as they followed her about every day, the girl's capacity to love any and everything quickly making their naturally ice cold disposition towards mortals,or at least this one in particular, melt away. Often they viewed her welfare as more than just a duty thrust upon them by their master, but as a matter of personal interest.

"Are you tired? Would you like to retire from the ball early?" Misa suggested, attempting to guess what had caused Rin's sudden bout of listlessness and even, dare she suggest it, unhappiness.

Rin gave out a tiny sigh and bowed her head even further, for the first time ever a little annoyed over the fact that when your best friends were Inu Demons it was virtually impossible to hide any emotion you might possess from them.

"No, no, I'm all right," she insisted in her melodic voice, flashing them both her trademark smile that had enamored so many to her. "I am a little tired, but it's late, so it's only to be expected. I'll be fine, and I want to see this ball to its end in any case."

"As you wish Lady Rin. But if you change your mind, just tell us and ..."

"Of course," Rin assured her protecters. "Now, if you wouldn't mind, Misa, Kira - a piece of Lady Ishuro's upside down cake and a cup of sake would do well to take away my exhaustion ..." Rin suggested after a moment of consideration, throwing a pleading glance at both demons. The two women traded quick glances – it was never a good idea to leave Rin alone, especially when she was surrounded by demons that all had the power to snap her thin neck with a casual flick of their wrist ... but Rin was giving them that look she used only when she truly and honestly yearned for something, (A rare look indeed, considering Rin hardly ever asked for anything at all.) and surely no one at the ball would be as foolish as to attempt to hurt Rin at Lord Sesshomaru's own party. Hesitantly, Misa nodded affirmatively.

"All right. We'll be back shortly ... but please don't move from here, Rin," the Inu female asked of her charge pleadingly, she and Kira having a full understanding of Rin's ability to get herself into all sorts of trouble. The girl seemed to be a magnet for chaos, and ever since she had been little the palace seamstress had been working over time to mend all of the articles of clothing Rin managed to tear or soil with dirt from her various escapades around the compound.

"Of course," Rin murmured, nodding her head and letting herself slide onto a nearby chair, signaling that she didn't plan to move from this spot.

With that Misa and Kira hurried off, splitting apart to fetch Rin's various requests. As soon as they were out of her line of sight, Rin let out a much more heartfelt sigh and lowered her head fully onto her knees, assured that no one was watching her now. Her eyes lost their twinkle and her mouth became one grim, straight line, with no sign of her usual joy present anywhere on her features.

Kira and Misa ... her loyal protecters. But, one had to ask, protectors from what? Rin had pondered this more and more often as the years went by and her time spent in her master's palace grew. There might have been a time in her life with Sesshomaru where Rin could see the sense in having body guards around her at all times – and that had been when she had existed without Kira and Misa, and was in fact on the road with her beloved Sesshomaru-sama and Jaken, searching for the hated Naraku and a way to take win back the Tetsusaiga from the hanyou Inuyasha.

Those days had been dangerous, treacherous ones with a bloody fight nearly ever other day, imminent peril waiting around every corner and adventures galore - but those times were gone now. Gone and lost it seemed, as Sesshomaru had not taken Rin with him on a long journey for many years, unless it was to travel to a social event at some other palace, where there were certainly no traps to look out for, no surprise ambushes, and certainly no hoards of mindless, rabid demons on their tails. Especially not since the reputation of the lovely Lady Rin had grown, and now no human nor demon through out the lands would attempt to hurt Rin so long as they knew her name. To quarrel with Rin was, in a sense, to quarrel with her formidable Master.

Times were peaceful, and Rin, ever the nonviolent girl she once was, knew she should be thankful for this. But she wasn't.

It seemed illogical for Rin to miss it - the days when her well being was not half as assured as it was now, and the future seemed to be some uncertain, intangible idea that might never come to pass if Naraku's power and influence continued to grow, but there it was. She missed it. She missed romping around the country side with nothing but a stolid Inu Demon and a domineering toad to keep her company, occasionally being kidnapped by the errant acolyte of Naraku, or being forced to watch the awesome power of Sesshomaru in action as he defended her with claws that had the ability to violently shred a demon ten times his size in half with the most casual of swipes. And, as the days went by, it seemed more and more apparent just why she missed those crazy times.

'I haven't even seen him even once tonight,' the seventeen-year old thought to herself dispassionately, her chocolate brown eyes scanning the vicinities for any signs of a handsome demon lord, to no avail. It was no surprise though – most likely he was in some dimly lit common room, listening to the mindless prattle of a seductive demoness or two or three ... At least, this was how Sesshomaru seemed to be spending his parties, which were becoming more and more frequent, as of late.

A few years ago, maybe two even, Rin would have found this idea baffling. Sesshomaru had never been one to flirt with the gold digging youkai females that tended to like to swarm around him like a hoard of hungry wasps, and it was a well known fact that the most eligible bachelor of the demon world had absolutely no interest in finding a mate the conventional way – that is, through parties the upper class threw with the intention of preserving the 'pure' blood in their lines. It was a great fear that the noble heritage among demons that had been so painstakingly preserved over the years by elitist youkai was now failing, as humans and other species seemed to grow in number and power every day, while the golden age of the demons appeared to be fading at an impressive rate thanks to the mingling of noble demon and human or lesser demon blood, starting with Sesshomaru's own influential father. Oh, you couldn't tell it by looking around the party at that moment, but in fact the high class demons were a precious commodity in the world, and it seemed as though things were going to start changing very quickly ... but in just what way, or to what ends, no one could tell.

Because of this, it had been a great concern among demons that the current generation of demon nobles all marry strictly into their own class, and the hatred for humans and hanyous had risen to an all time high in the past century. Sesshomaru had never concerned himself with such worries, and in fact rarely seemed to think about the opposite sex at all as far as Rin or the palace help could tell ... but suddenly, in recent years, things seemed to have changed, and Sesshomaru began to humor the flirtatious ladies of the court who would love to have a part of the Inu Kingdom pie .... Rin could only attribute this change of heart in her master towards the ever increasing panic among demon nobles concerning dilution of pure demon blood. There just didn't seem to be any other logical reason.

Never the less ... Rin wasn't sure how she liked this change in her idol, the demon who had brought her back from the very brink of death not so very long ago, and cared for her as his own kin when she had been living a life more miserable than she had ever thought possible. It seemed oddly out of character for him, and something buried very deep away in her heart twisted with agonizing insistence when she thought of Sesshomaru-sama responding to the attentions of one of those ludicrously beautiful demons.

Not that it was any of her business who Sesshomaru chose to have ... relations ... with. If he wanted to spend his evenings in the company of a bunch of gossiping harpies, well, that was his choice.

Rin inwardly winced at her own harsh attitude towards Sesshomaru's new female friends – she was never this vindictive. Even though she had spent all this time living amongst beings who were more evil than good, she had stayed true to her human heart and never succumbed to such petty feelings as hate and jealousy. However, recently, she had been finding it very hard not to be just a little bit envious of anyone who got to spend time with Sesshomaru, considering she hardly saw him once a day. One would say he even seemed to be actively avoiding her. Sesshomaru had never spoken much to begin with, but the fact that he had said a little over three words to Rin in the past month told the girl that something was deeply wrong in her relationship with the demon lord.

Not that it always used to be this way. Far from it, in fact. In the very beginning, just after the fall of Naraku, when the mansion was new to Rin and she had been very frightened of its vacuous halls and sometimes haunting corners, Sesshomaru had spent large portions of his days with her. They would lounge about his study, Sesshomaru silently giving Rin new scrolls or philosophical novels to read while he did paper work of some sort, hoping to educate the little peasant girl, and perhaps turn her into a more refined type of lady, instead of the vagabond she had been developing into on the road.

Rin had been thrilled with every book she got to read. Never before had she had access to such infinite knowledge, and now she had an entire library at her disposal. Best of all, she was being taught how to read these many books by her Lord Sesshomaru himself. The busy royal gave up his precious time to teach little Rin how to read and write, and even gave her the names of all of the most eminent and influential philosophers and writers of the age.

This tradition of spending time reading, learning, and sometimes even talking together in the library had lasted until Rin was at least thirteen. However, as she grew even older, Sesshomaru seemed to have less and less time for Rin. He often could be found skulking the palace halls on his own, patrolling the Western borders with no one but Ah and Un for a companion, or brooding in his chambers, specifically requesting to be left in peace. By the time Rin was sixteen, gone were the days when Sesshomaru would offer to take her on walks through the forest to help her find a rare Lilly that only grew in the wild for her bouquet, lost were the times he would sit in on Rin's harp lessons and silently appraise her musical talents – in fact, Sesshomaru hardly even dined with Rin at this point, and meals with no one but a grumpy Jaken and the utterly silent Misa and Kira had become lonely and emotionally draining.

The fireworks were still coming, and the audience was still captivated by their extravagance and beauty, when Rin noticed a tear in the corner of her eye. Biting her lip she quickly wiped it away, berating herself for acting like such a whining baby. What did she have to complain about, really? Under Sesshomaru's protection she was as rich as a Queen and had everything she would ever need, including an education, which is something hardly any mortals had in this day and age. She could be so much worse off at this point had Sesshomaru never found her, and here she was wallowing in misery simply because her master had lost interest in her.

'At least he hasn't thrown you out.' Rin told herself harshly. 'You should be thankful he's put up with a mortal like you for so long – he's even protected you from other demons who would criticize his keeping you in the palace during a time period when mortals are so fiercely hated. You should be thankful.'

And she was thankful. She could admit that she was honestly grateful to Sesshomaru for all he had done for her ... but now, things were changing. And Rin was becoming restless. She wanted to travel again, she wanted to see more of the world, as she had when she was younger. And by this she didn't mean she wanted to go visit more palaces or attend more foreign balls – but she wanted to see the gritty, dangerous, bizarre world of the likes she had gotten glimpses of while there had still been war with Naraku. She wanted to sleep in the woods wrapped around Ah and Un, using Sesshomaru's tail as a pillow while letting the songs of the grasshoppers lull her into dream land. She wanted to fend for herself when a demon attacked, or at least do the best she could before Sesshomaru intervened, and live life on the edge.

Staying at the palace and acting the part of the belle of the ball was all well and good for a short time, but it ... it wasn't who Rin was. She wasn't meant to live within in the confines of the palace for all of her days, and she wasn't meant to be the proper, untouchable and graceful Lady Rin that everyone made her out to be now.

Fingering the pearl necklace that hung around her dainty throat, and matched the strings of pearls that had been threaded through her coal black hair, Rin took another long look around the shimmering ball room. It was beautiful, to be sure. Hundreds, possibly thousands of years old, crafted by the most talented architects money could by, and preserved by magic and the Inu Youkai heritage. One couldn't ask for a lovelier setting ... but it wasn't what Rin wanted.

"I can't stay ..."

"What was that, Lady Rin?"

Rin's head quickly shot up, and she came face to face with Misa and Kira, the two Inu Demons having quickly returned from their errand. Misa held a small cup of steaming sake, while Kira clutched an overflowing plate of scrumptious looking cake. Rin inwardly sighed as she realized she truly had no appetite so speak of at the moment, but put on a brave smile and made room for the women to place the food down. She HAD asked for this, after all. It would be terribly rude to refuse the food now, no matter that her stomach was churning in such a way she feared she might throw up at any moment.

"Oh, I was just talking to myself. It was nothing!" Rin assured her guards. Misa and Kira traded sardonic looks, as though to say – 'Oh, that Rin'. They quickly situated their offerings on a nearby table and took a step back as Rin brought the cup of sake to her lips and delicately took a small sip, pretending she didn't notice Misa and Kira watching her with hawk like gazes. She knew they were just worried for her because they sensed something was off, and she didn't want to make them fret over her trivial problems.

"Mmm ... that's good!" she chirped gleefully, thinking to herself 'I remember the days when I didn't even know how to 'delicately sip' a cup of anything. I was happier then.'

This happy-go-lucky attitude seemed to placate the twin's nerves, and they nodded encouragingly at Rin before coming to stand on either side of their lady once more, their stony masks firmly back in place. Rin sat back in her seat, cradling the cup close to her body, and proceeded to watch the rest of the festivities with a decidedly odd gleam in her usually merry eyes.


From the shadows, a new pair of golden eyes that did not belong to Misa or Kira observed Rin's every action carefully and calculatingly. They watched her as she sent the two guards he had long ago assigned to her to prevent any assassination attempts on the controversial human girl he kept in his house away, and sat alone in an almost perfectly still position for the next ten minutes, only showing a sign of life when she caught herself lightly crying. His fists clenched as he watched her quickly erase any signs of distress, and attempt to bring her usual smile back to her face, wishing he could walk over to her right then and demand to know what was troubling her, instead of lurking in the shadows like some peeping tom. This Lord Sesshomaru was no peeping tom, nor was he a spy ... it would just complicate things if Rin knew he was watching her right then, and usually watched her almost every minute of the day, when he wasn't obstinately marching around the country side or sulking in his room.

Sesshomaru, contrary to popular belief, had not suddenly taken a liking to the flirtatious demon ladies of the court, and he was by no means searching for a mate in any of them. He knew that the entire court thought that he spent much time in darkened rooms romancing the neko demon Lady Tiasoryu, or Princess Kasyumi – but this just wasn't so. Sure, he had spent some time with the ladies to beat back suspicions anyone might have when it came to his sex life – after all, he was an affluent demon Lord in his prime, who would normally have claimed a mate decades ago, and gotten started on making a family of his own. But, in reality, Sesshomaru hadn't been romantically involved with any one demon for some time, although the amount of offers he had been receiving could be considered ludicrous. Still, there was no special woman in his life. No one that is, except the Lady Rin.

In the beginning, many had thought Sesshomaru had taken Rin in to be his mistress when she matured some. He had quickly and sometimes violently denied these accusations, under the assurance that he would never sleep with a lowly human. If Sesshomaru was famous for anything, it was his deep-rooted, intense hatred for humans, and the many creative ways he had for disemboweling them. That used to be what he was famous for, in any case .... and Sesshomaru was almost mortified to have anyone discover he hadn't committed a mass slaughter of mortals in nearly ten years.

However, the general concessus among the demons of the court was that Sesshomaru still truly hated all mortals, and so the mystery surrounding Sesshomaru's intents when it came to the Lady Rin was still a highly discussed topic among the court gossips. Sesshomaru was only thankful that Rin herself had never inquired as to why she had been brought to the Western Palace, to exist as the only human amongst the lavish, enchanted world of demons. And this was because ... he couldn't honestly say he knew why, himself.

Saving the pitiful little child and then bringing her along for the ride as he traveled the lands during more chaotic times had been one thing, but to then grow so attached to the tiny human that he would invite her to come live with him in his palace ... well that was an entirely different matter, obviously.

In truth, the mystery of Lady Rin was just as elusive and ponderous to Sesshomaru himself as to anyone else. Why he had become so comfortable around a mortal as to let her live within the walls of his own home was something he had never been able to understand, even when thinking about it only to himself – all he knew was that after Naraku was felled by his hanyou half brother and the miko girl he had mated, taking Rin home with him had been the only logical thing to do. Almost as though it were the next step in the series of preordained moves that made up his life. He never would have dared to question it, nor would he have, truly, wanted to. After all, he was able to admit to himself, having Rin around was not an annoyance, it was more of a comfort.

However it had been taxing to his position as Prince and Lord of the Western lands. The mass hysteria concerning humans diluting the royal bloodlines had done nothing to make Rin's move into his home easier. Sesshomaru had been forced to beat down some of the stuffiest, nastiest and most intimidating demons before he even considered presenting Rin to the court, for fear that they would tear the girl limb from limb, under the impression that she was his intended mate, even at age seven. However Sesshomaru's long and bloody history concerning mortals, not to mention his own influence over the court, eventually won Rin's safety.

Not that this stopped Sesshomaru from assigning Misa and Kira to guard the young woman at all times. Rin had been born unfortunately lacking any skills at all that would work as self defense against demons – she was no miko, and had no head for anti-youkai magic – and this made her incredibly vulnerable. For a time, Misa and Kira's constant presence around the girl had been the only thing that made Sesshomaru rest easier at night ... not that he would ever admit it, but Sesshomaru just knew that for some infuriating reason he would not be able to live with himself if Rin were in any way hurt or even killed within his own walls.

And this seemed to be a constant theme in Sesshomaru's life, this protectiveness over Rin. If anyone needed proof of this, they could turn to an incident almost ten years ago when Naraku had threatened the life of Rin – HIS Rin. It had been at this point that something in Sesshomaru had, very quietly and without much fuss, snapped.

That anyone would dare touch a hair on the innocent girl's head seemed almost beyond him, and he knew that if Naraku wound up taking her life it would be too much for his potent youkai blood to stomach. The worst part of all was, however ... Sesshomaru had absolutely no idea where these passionate feelings had originated from. Even as he had gone out of his way to make sure that Rin was brought back unscathed, there had been a little voice in the back of his head asking the powerful lord – 'Why? Why save Rin? She is nothing but a blundering mortal child. You have no use for her. She can do nothing to benefit you. You've already saved her life once ... she should be thankful. You owe her nothing. You. Do. Not. Need. To. Do. This.'

Oh, but he did.

For some reason, the idea that Rin would be expecting, hoping, wishing for him to save her from Naraku's clutches had been all the incentive Sesshomaru needed to go forth and find his tiny charge, not to mention hurl himself into a blind rage over the fact that she had been kidnapped in the first place.

His mouth twitching downwards ever so slightly, Sesshomaru folded his arms across his broad, muscular chest and leaned against a pillar, his form still effectively covered in shadow as he continued to watch the oblivious Rin from across the room. What WAS it about her? Sesshomaru nearly always had an answer to everything that he encountered in his life – or at least, was able to simplify problems with his own logic to make them work as he pleased - but Rin, Rin defied everything, and left him constantly wondering. Worst of all, she seemed completely ignorant to this fact.

Others in Rin's place might try to take advantage of her current situation. She was, after all, treated in much the manner of a noble lady while living with Sesshomaru, and technically had influence over one of the most important figures of her time. Sesshomaru was positive Rin understood just how strong a force her Sesshomaru-sama was in the real world, and yet ... she had never done anything to suggest that she would abuse her bond with him for her own needs. She had stayed loyal and true and the most she had ever asked for in all her ten years of living with Sesshomaru was for her own plot in the gardens to grow whatever type of flower she wished. It was truly bizarre. And yet ... if she had turned out any other way, she would not be his Rin, and Sesshomaru would feel no need to keep her around, or alive, at all.

The fact of the matter was, Rin's personality and general demeanor seemed to be extremely compatible with Sesshomaru's. It must have been, because she was still one of the only people he could truly tolerate conversing or being with for large periods of time, with the possible exception of Jaken, whom he had known from birth. Days when Rin would pack a picnic and lead Sesshomaru on walks around the palace's property, areas he knew just about as well as the back of his hand, had become some of his most pleasant memories, for it was during these times he was able to listen to the melodic sound of Rin's voice in her most natural setting – the outdoors. Rin and nature just seemed to intertwine and become one at times, and this fact was made all that much more apparent when Sesshomaru was resting among sun splashed flowers of all shapes and hue, nibbling on rice cakes while watching said girl twirl around fields of daisies, chasing butterflies, laughing at nothing at all and clearly displaying the fact that she was incredibly happy to be alive.

This type of scenario would ... not have pleased Sesshomaru ... before he met Rin. As much as it pained the powerful demon to admit it, it seemed as though Rin had changed him. She had made him appreciate life.

So why would he let such a girl, a girl with such a strong hold over him, with the ability to change his very way of thinking – live? At any given moment Sesshomaru knew he had the full ability and right to take Rin's life from her. It would simply be too easy, and he dared to say that any servant in the palace could do this if they felt the need to as well. But they didn't, because they feared Sesshomaru's wrath, and because ... because Rin seemed to exude a certain liveliness and innocence that had wormed its way into even the most frigid demon's heart in Sesshomaru's home. Sesshomaru knew for a fact that his servants were all very fond of Rin, and would never dream of hurting her, in just the same way he wouldn't. Sesshomaru had slaughtered armies of thousands of men, annihilated hundreds of human villages, and even massacred countless families ... but he could not bring himself to hurt Rin. Not even from the first day he met her. And it never ceased to amaze him that her own people had found no qualms with hurting her, themselves.

Sesshomaru thought back to his first meeting with Rin, finding her face bruised and swollen into a puffy mess from a viscous beating by her fellow villagers. Even back then he had been surprised that humans could be so brutal towards this girl who was of their own kind ... and he had to admit that if the entirety of the village hadn't been slaughtered by wolves since that time, he might have had some words to say to those responsible for Rin's hurts.

Staring at his large, clawed hands, Sesshomaru closed his eyes and tried to picture the last time he had slaughtered a human. It had been so long. So very long. And it was all her fault too, he was sure. He glanced at Rin's face once more, watching the chandelier light play on her pale, smooth skin, and reflect off her glossy pink lips that were curved into a playful smile as she conversed with her two guards once more. Yes, it was her fault ... it was because of her that he was unable to kill humans as he used to, for every time he went to deliver the killing blow, he would look into their eyes and for some inexplicable reason see HER staring back at him, confused, innocent, and loving ... it was as though she was connected to Sesshomaru, and each he came close to murdering a mortal she would sense it, and transport herself into the body of his next victim, daring him to kill the bloody bastard now. It angered Sesshomaru to no end, and yet there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. Rin had a power over him, and there seemed to be no way to rid himself of its influence. He would sooner rip out his own heart than cause Rin harm, a fact that he and he alone was aware of ... and even then only dimly.

In the end Sesshomaru had decided the best way to preserve and protect this odd girl who had unwittingly stolen a piece of his heart and hidden it away somewhere he could not see, was to keep her in his home and make her a proper lady of the court. Once he had cooled down the court gossips about his questionable status with Rin, and established her as a permanent resident in the palace with a title all her own, the next step was to transform her into something that would in turn fit in his home – he was to make her into something that would be easier to handle and swallow. If she became a lady of the likes he was used to being with every day, as opposed to a wild human child with a penance for dragging her muddy kimonos around indoors, then perhaps she would not be so very disturbing to him. And so he, in a sense, house trained Rin.

It started with his daily reading and writing lessons with the rambunctious child. For many years, it was not uncommon for Sesshomaru to retire to his library with a giddy Rin in tow, a slue of books and writing materials ready for use. He taught Rin how to read at a speed that would give many knowledgeable adults pause, and write with the delicate script of a noble lady. He also gave her a series crash course lessons on the philosophers and forward thinkers of the time period. Sesshomaru was not sure that these lessons would have gone on so successfully for so long a period had his pupil been anyone but Rin, but the girl proved to not only be the most enthusiastic student a teacher could hope for, but the brightest as well. Rin's capacity for learning and her sheer enjoyment of the process made those long days of tutoring very bearable and, dare he say it, enjoyable. Sesshomaru had never considered himself much of a scholar, and certainly not a teacher, however he didn't feel the need to be modest when he said that Rin had come away from the lessons a properly educated Lady of the Court. Why, she probably had a better grasp of rudimentary philosophy then most of the so called enlightened demons present at his gala.

Next came her appearance – Sesshomaru never meant to take Rin's free spirit and naturally carefree disposition from her, however he did intend for her to become more of a refined person with all of the skills one needs to be a proper guest at a ball. After all, he took her with him when he was invited to foreign functions in neighboring demon lands once she was of proper age. It was at these parties that he refused to have an uncivilized companion – the Lord Sesshomaru needed to be an image of placidity at all times, after all.

So, Rin was fitted for numerous full kimonos with extravagant patterns, ribbons and countless layers. She was taught how to walk in her new lustrous wardrobe (Sesshomaru took great amusement from watching Rin's first attempts to walk normally in her new robes.), the polite way to behave when at a ball, the correct way to eat when in the company of other nobles, and all of the etiquette that came with being the companion of the Prince of the Inu Youkai. Sesshomaru watched his little Rin's progression with these lessons, ones taught by palace servants and seamstresses, and he eventually came to understand that Rin suffered because of them. Taking in knowledge and expanding her mind was something entirely different than being told you were not able to run when wearing a heavy floor length kimono, and that a proper lady did not laugh out loud when in polite company.

But Rin, understanding that it was Sesshomaru himself who wanted her to master these lessons, persevered and came out of the experience with all of the poise and grace of a regular demon princess, effectively earning herself the title 'Lady Rin' among the demon court, who came to respect and admire the mortal who appeared to have won a spot by Sesshomaru's side.

From this utter success Sesshomaru knew he should have been relieved and happy that Rin would now no longer be an embarrassment to him when dealing with foreign demons of high prestige ... however he wasn't. In fact, something in him felt down right disgusted when he watched his vibrant, cheerful Rin stifle part of her soul and essence to be more like the rest of the world, and more like the elitists Sesshomaru spent his days with. It seemed as though part of her natural makeup had been ripped from her as the transformation from little Rin to Lady Rin manifested itself in ways Sesshomaru had not been able to foresee.

She became closed off and careful with the emotions she used to throw around like confetti, when she had been unashamed or embarrassed to be herself even amongst the most intimidating of creatures. She had created the standard mask that everyone wore when trying to be polite rather than honest, and it was such a new and radical addition to Rin's normal facial expressions that it took Sesshomaru some time to look her in the eye again before realizing that this had been what he had wanted to see in her all along – a more civilized and sedate Rin, who would not poise the threat of changing him so very much if he got the chance to change her first.

But Rin had not lost all of her spark, to be sure - she still snuck out of the palace to go run around the castle property during lessons to do as she pleased every once and a while, she still teased Jaken relentlessly, never had an unkind word for a demon she met and had an innocent fascination for life. There was just something more ... depressing about her. As though there had been a heavy and unnatural weight put upon her shoulders that made her award winning smile dim and lack-luster. By the time she was fifteen, Rin was no longer the source of endless wonder and joy in Sesshomaru's harsh existence – she had mutated into his source of his guilt and inner-turmoil.

And he knew she had yet to realize this.

In fact, Sesshomaru had no idea what sort of things Rin thought up when wondering why he had begun to avoid her and spend more of his time on either solitary travels or fully immersed in royal affairs with little to no time for her. He couldn't even begin to guess what went through her head when she heard rumors of Sesshomaru searching for a mate amongst the female demons at his parties, and spending many long nights with the smoldering temptresses. He could only hope that she didn't blame herself for this cold change in him, when really all of the blame was his to take for becoming so very, very confused with his situation with the young woman. It was not she who had proven too weak to stay by his side ... it was he who could not bear to look at a woman he had very nearly corrupted with the ways of the elite demons.

It was he who was afraid that if he did anything more to her she would completely fade away and there would be nothing left of the Rin he knew and loved.

Knew and ... loved.

'Love.' Sesshomaru thought to himself with a bitter chuckle. 'Love has no place in the life of a demon lord.'

'But if that is so...' Another treacherous voice within Sesshomaru's mind whispered tauntingly. 'What is SHE doing here? Is she not the embodiment of this love you speak so callously of? Something you want near you and by your side at all times for no apparent reason – something that will never necessarily benefit you in any logical way, but you just can't live without....'

'No. No that's wrong!' Sesshomaru snarled to himself vehemently. 'I do not LOVE anything. I am Lord Sesshomaru – not some weak hanyou or traitor to my blood!'

'And loving makes you a traitor?'

'Yes. More specifically, to love ... something like her ... would make me a traitor. I will not follow in the footsteps of my father.' he thought firmly.

'Not even for her?'

'Not even for her. Besides ... she is too pure hearted and naïve to be loved by a demon of the royal court. She would make no proper demon queen, this I know. No, her position as Lady Rin is all she needs ...'


'Yes, as long as she is protected and safe she can be happy.'

'Don't you mean YOU can be happy?'

'Yes. I can be happy, too.'

'So, you're positive that she is happy now, then.' The voice that sounded disturbingly like Sesshomaru's own baritone asked critically.

'Why wouldn't she be? I have given her everything ... I know that she has been a bit ... restrained by the rules of court life ... but it is for the better, since this is the only place she can exist and not have to face the perils of a normal mortal life. She will never go back to the existence she once knew as long as I have something to say about it.'

'And you believe that this is all she needs. All she needs is your protection and she will be forever content....' the voice mocked.

'I can give her nothing else! I don't have the ability to offer her anything else in life – and yet she continues to fade away more and more every day. I see it! I can tell it by the dimness in her eyes ... but am helpless to change this. That's why ... I thought it best if I stay away. This change in her must be my doing.' Sesshomaru decided with a small sigh.

'She is ... she is ...

'-Gone!' he thought, his head abruptly snapping up as he realized for the first time that he had been too deeply immersed in his own thoughts to notice Rin leave the ball room. Her smell was already old as he scanned the room for her presence, making him wonder just how long he had stood in the shadows, contemplating his current position with the young woman.

'She has left ... Misa and Kira are gone as well. Perhaps she has retired to her room for the night,' Sesshomaru thought to himself as he finally stepped from the shadows, standing at 6'5 and as beautiful and incandescent as ever in the enchanting ballroom atmosphere.

'I should check on her ...' the irrational thought came unbidden to his mind, and he had no choice but to obey it.

"Lord Sesshomaru!" a painfully familiar voice croaked in the distance. Sesshomaru paused on his way towards the arching doors that would lead out of the ballroom, halting his steady gait to glance over his shoulder at the grotesque looking toad demon that scrambled its way towards him quickly.

"What is it, Jaken?" Sesshomaru asked plaintively, seeing the obvious distress on his long time servant's face. By the way Jaken was clutching his magical staff and shifting uneasily from foot to foot, Sesshomaru knew there was trouble. He wondered briefly if there was something wrong with Rin, and silently cursed the ice cold hand that clutched his heart painfully at the thought.

"Well Sir, you see, it's just that, um ..." Jaken muttered, caught off guard by the intense look in his master's striking gold eyes. There seemed to be something unusually wild in them tonight.

"Out with it, Jaken."

"Lady Yosu and Princess Tekio have been nagging me all night to go find you so that they could have a word for you – and they have become most impatient milord!" Jaken finally cried, his eyes literally shimmering with anxiety. Glancing towards the terrace and catching a glance of the two neko demons, dressed in scantily clad gowns and looking positively ravenous as their eyes took in the finally revealed master of the house, with long thin tails that whipped eagerly from side to side, Sesshomaru began to understand why Jaken had become so stressed. Neko demons were notoriously persistent and cunning, certainly too cunning for his nervous servant.

"Tell them I am feeling unwell, and will have to speak with them another time. I am going for a walk, and I do not wish to be disturbed." he stated flatly, giving Jaken a look that promised pain if his wishes were not carried out.

"B-b-but!" Jaken stuttered stupidly, glancing back at the two nekos and promptly breaking out into a nervous sweat.

"Please attend to it yourself Jaken. I am in no mood for petty flirting on this night," Sesshomaru commented brusquely in his deep, husky voice, his facial expression never changing from its usual stony position. Jaken watched, open mouthed with shock, as his master with the physiognomy that rivaled that of the Gods simply strutted out of the ballroom directly proceeding his blunt proclamation, leaving the two vixens he had just blatantly rejected seething in the corner as they watched their pray easily glide out of the room. Jaken slowly turned around to face the two women, watching their eyes glint dangerously in the candlelight, and gulped audibly.

'How could Lord Sesshomaru do this to me?...' he wondered pitifully.


Having narrowly avoided a dreadfully unpleasant encounter mere seconds after emerging from his hiding place in the shadows, Sesshomaru did not risk openly traveling down his own corridors to reach the second floor. Instead he snuck like a criminal through the halls, staying in the shadows and using his natural demon powers to go blissfully unnoticed all the way to the back staircase of the palace.

Sesshomaru would admit to feeling slightly guilty over the fact that he had just left his dutiful servant to deal with those two particular suitors, as Lady Yosu and Princess Tekio happened to be some of his more persistent and sometimes violent admirers. However he certainly didn't feel guilty enough about it to go back and save the slimy demon.

As he reached the top of the winding staircase, making sure his large form made nary a creak as he traveled, Sesshomaru sniffed the air for signs of his quarry. He narrowed his eyes as he came to the second floor, wondering why he could detect no scent of Rin.

'Since when have I become such an obsessive stalker that I cannot let her be out of my sight for more than a minute?' he wondered mutely, continuing on his way and keeping both eyes peeled for young girls with flowing raven hair, as well as more unwanted demon company. 'It's only because she looked so upset tonight.' he told himself firmly.

'I wouldn't care at all if she hadn't been crying in the ballroom... but as it stands, the girl is very volatile and likely to do something foolish if I don't make sure she is all right.' he added as an afterthought.

Eventually he came to Rin's door, not at all surprised to see Misa and Kira dutifully standing guard outside the artfully crafted oak portal, their posture straight as pieces of board, making them appear generally stiff and intimidating. 'So, she ended up retiring early. Perhaps she was just tired tonight and I'm worrying over the nothing...' he reflected, halfheartedly turning to leave before either female Inu demon could spot him. However, once he was out in the open, Sesshomaru wasn't someone hard to notice with his strikingly beautiful robes and shimmering hair, and soon both demon's had their eyes schooled upon him.

"Lord Sesshomaru," they murmured in unison, bowing their heads respectfully as Sesshomaru inwardly sighed and approached them slowly.

'Well, what harm can it do to check...'

He stopped in front of the door and nodded to Misa and Kira, signaling they could raise their heads at once. The twins did so automatically and stared up at Sesshomaru with matching orange eyes. They even wore identical confused expressions on their faces.

"Is there something you wanted, Lord Sesshomaru?" Kira asked softly, wondering why her lord and master had come to visit Rin after she had turned in for the night, and why he was not with his guests as usual.

"This Sesshomaru would wish to speak to Rin briefly." he said simply, giving no further explanation. Misa and Kira exchanged glances, wondering if it was wise to wake Rin up from her sleep, before realizing there really wasn't anything they could do about it, and gracefully sliding away from the door to bid Sesshomaru entrance. The great demon Lord wasted no time in opening the heavy door and slipping into the room, quickly closing the large structure behind him and immersing himself in a chamber that smelled distinctly and exquisitely of Rin.

'I have always loved her scent ... wild flowers and spice.' he reflected. 'It makes me feel at ease and ... weak. I hate things that make me weak.' Refusing to dwell on that line of thought any longer then was absolutely necessary, Sesshomaru took in Rin's large room, realizing that he hadn't been in it in some time ....

It was a vast room with a high ceilings, complete with intricate moldings and half columns built into the walls. Off to the side there was a full bathroom for Rin's use alone, and the back wall was a full length window that had a door, left slightly ajar that night to let in the cool summer breeze, which led to a comfortably sized balcony. Many a summer night Sesshomaru had observed Rin star gazing on that terrace from his own balcony some doors over, silent and awed by the massive sky above her.

The room was painted a plain white, however over the years Rin, with some assistance from the palace servants, had decorated it so that it spoke very clearly about the type of woman who now dwelled in it. There were sheer, glittering reams of fabric falling gracefully from the ceiling, matching the colorful curtains on the window and the sheets that hung about the canopy of Rin's queen sized bed. Fresh flowers seemed to be a constant in the human's chambers, and she had them all elegantly positioned in various vases (That she had been collecting for some time.) on nearly every single surface possible.

Towards the back there was a walk in closet filled with kimonos of every hue and pattern, finely pressed and ready to wear. Next to Rin's bed, which was currently concealed by her light red, shimmering canopy, was a stand stuffed with books and scrolls. Most of the paraphernalia looked very old and well used, and Sesshomaru recognized nearly all of it as coming from his own personal library. He stood there in silence for a minute, appreciating the atmosphere he had just walked into, and finding that it suited him nearly as well as his own chambers, although the two were dramatically different in style.

Sesshomaru looked to the floor with a small grin on his features, picturing his own, rather serious room filled with bouquets and colorful fabrics like Rin's. He caught his reflection in the finely waxed, dark wood of the floor, and was surprised to note how very brightly his eyes were glowing ... he was ... content.

Shaking his head as though to wake himself from some dream, Sesshomaru carefully made sure his expression was as disdainful as he could make it, before calling out to his little charge in a clear, low voice.

"Rin, I wish to speak with you."

Sesshomaru waited a beat, and mentally frowned when he didn't even detect the rustling of Rin's blankets from behind her canopy. Was she truly that dead asleep? If she was, Sesshomaru would feel a bit badly about waking her, and considered giving up the entire thing and just leaving, since he really had no reason to see Rin now that he knew she had just retired for the night and was in no danger or distress.

He would have done this too, had something odd not occurred to him. It was Rin's scent. It was strangely ... stale.

Moving forward with the speed only an Inu Demon could possess, Sesshomaru threw back the concealing sheets of Rin's canopy, feeling his heart rate accelerate dramatically as he stared into her large bed.

Her large ... empty bed.

'No.' he thought, his eyes irrevocably being drawn back to the open glass door, now that much more suspicious ... why had he not considered it more closely before? 'No.'

'She has done something foolish.'

Rin was gone.


Author's Notes:

Next Chapter: Runaway.

I'll try and finish it, I honestly will. It's already partially done so it's quite possible that I might, for the first time ever in my career ... finish a fic. This was originally supposed to be a one-shot, thus ensuring its end, however after I was twenty pages into this thing I reconsidered, seeing as how the story is, well, only half done. Rin and Sesshomaru are really just my favorite IY couple though, and I had been waiting to do a story on them for a long time – Bitten just always got in the way.

I hope you all enjoyed this odd little scenario I've created – review and you can contribute to the Rio Finally Completes a Fic Foundation. (RFCFF.) Thanks, and goodnight!

Rio Grande