Author's Note: This is my view on their relationship. No romance intended in this fic. But if you're a fan of the pairing, this might work for you. I'd like it very much if you'd review.
-x- Drifting Petals
Sesshoumaru stopped, "We'll rest here."
Jaken mumbled. They've been resting nearly every hour now! He knew Sesshoumaru-sama was only making these breaks for the girl, who constantly got tired.
Wait. That was wrong. That girl had ceaseless energy. Proving Jaken's point, Rin gave a delighted squeal, overpowering her weariness as her numb legs came back to life, she raced off to the grove of Sakura trees that she had smelled longingly during their journey, the blossoms' scent enticing and overwhelming,
"Such an insolent brat." Jaken muttered harshly. Sesshoumaru, who was quietly watching Rin run off, gave Jaken a sharp look, at which he gave a squeak and promptly quieted.
Giving one final look towards the excited child dancing around the drifting flowers, Sesshoumaru began to leave.
"M-master!" Jaken sprung up from his slump and stared wide-eyed at the departing Sesshoumaru. "Where are you going?" He stumbled over his long, worn clothes in a frantic attempt to catch up to Sesshoumaru-sama.
For a moment, Jaken didn't think Sesshoumaru-sama would reply. Of course, not much was to be expected from the expressionless youkai.
Sesshoumaru turned around, his features a perfect mask of despondence and indifference. "I'll be back by nightfall. Watch Rin." Not exactly the reply Jaken baited for, but at least now he knew his master was, indeed, not abandoning him. Not yet, anyhow.
Jaken plopped down against the base of an oak tree with the tiny thought of reassurance that Sesshoumaru-sama would be returning and watched mournfully until the tall, silver figure faded. Jaken clutched his staff and gave a deep sigh. Now he was, yet again, the damn girl's babysitter.
Jaken snapped his eyes closed, and then preceded smacking his staff repeatedly on his head at the familiar, piercing cry. 'No! No. Not her! Oh, why me?'
Rin skipped towards the self-abusing form of Jaken, panting slightly, a bundle of fallen petals gathered in her arms. She gave a confused look. "Jaken-sama, what are you doin—" Her smiled faded, and she looked worriedly around, "—where's Sesshoumaru-sama?"
"Humph!" Jaken stood up. He dusted himself off and rubbed his sore head, adorned with various bumps. "He left because you annoyed him so much."
Rin's eyes widened. "That's not true."
"Believe it, girl!" The green toad glared up at her, "You're nothing but a burden to him."
Rin's young eyes gauged him carefully. "Then, did Sesshoumaru-sama leave Jaken too - since you're here with Rin and not Sesshoumaru-sama?" She cocked her head and stared with big, quizzical eyes.
Jaken stammered, befuddled. "H-he wouldn't! He didn't! He didn't leave me!" Jaken cried, as if reassuring himself instead of supposedly arguing with the girl.
Rin giggled, and threw the petals she gathered from the ground in the air. In the midst of the slowly drifting petals, Rin smiled. 'Sesshoumaru-sama would never leave Rin. Never'
After staring into nothingness for awhile, Jaken quickly fell asleep against the old oak tree. Rin frowned as she stared at the haggard face, snoring, all the while having fits and unintelligibly screaming something along the lines of, 'No! Sesshoumaru-sama! Don't leave me! Your faithful servant, Jaken! Sesshoumaru-sama!'
Rin giggled. "Jaken-sama is so silly." She continued threading the wilted petals. When she was done, she placed her scented necklace around Jaken. "Ah, Jaken-sama looks so pretty." The pale pink colors were a much needed necessity on Jaken's bland and dull form.
She gave a big whiff of the air, feeling her senses fill with the fragrance of the blossoms. She smiled at the mesmerizing aroma. She now smelt heavily of the cherry blossoms, having playing with them all day long. She didn't mind, of course. The scent of the Sakura petals is so pretty…
Rin glanced wistfully at the sky. The sun has almost disappeared at the horizon, painting the sky with shades of streaming red-gold. The moon was faint and undulating – like an illusion.
'Sesshoumaru-sama should be back soon'
She wanted to see if there was anything else of beauty around here. She was sure there was more that needed to be seen. Quickly she admonished herself not to go too far and be back before Sesshoumaru-sama returns.
She fed the two-headed dragon, Ah-Un, and chided the beast to watch over Jaken.
Giving Jaken one last look, she set off. In a few moments' time, she came upon a clearing, with ring of Sakura trees around it. It was a huge piece of land, rimmed with dozens of flourished cherry trees. There was a little pond that took up most of the land and huge, sculptural rocks that were strewn around.
"Ah.." The sun's last rays shone over everything, giving an ethereal glow. Petals were floating everywhere, their pink color giving life to the clearing as they drifted freely about. 'Almost like magic.'
Rin hugged herself when the winds began. The petals slowly descended down, forced from their branched home. The trunks were milky brown, and they shone in austere contrast to the pale pinkness of the tumbling petals.
It was not very cold, the air strangely cool. However it was unbelievably gusty, the winds whipping about in an almost crazed frenzy.
'So windy.' Rin felt her eyes close as the wind screamed its release, clearing through her hair, loosening the strands, and as it passed around her - giving her gooseflesh.
The wind swept through the trees and a wailing sound flounced through as the strong airstreams forced the aged blossoms from their graying branches. Fallen petals blanketed the ground, wafting slowly at the wind's insistence.
"Sugoi." Rin ran with open arms around the clearing, feeling the soft silkiness of the crushed petals under her bare feet. Indescribable warmth flared within her as she jumped and skipped and ran alongside the flowers.
The wind joined in, guiding the petals around her in a harmonized dance. Rin laughed gaily, trying to catch as many falling blossoms as she could.
She ran around, her face looking upwards to feel the petals hit her face like soft snowflakes.
She felt vaguely woozy from all the spiraling, and thought it in her best interest to sit down so her head would stop doing somersaults. The ground was hardly visible, with the pale flowers floating everywhere. The pond glistened underneath the vast amount of petals laying dormant on its surface - drifting slightly when the wind demanded its movement.
Rin lay down on the soft bed of petals and gazed at the sky. It was night now - the moon already out, but still faint and hidden behind thin, misty clouds. Few stars were visible, but shone with an intense brightness. It was going to be a beautiful night.
Rin ignored the now chilly air and closed her eyes, relishing the soft touch whenever a petal drifted by her face. The winds have died down, leaving a breeze every so often. Still, the fallen flowers flow in a continuous, unbroken cycle.
She just laid there a moment, not quite thinking of anything. She was just centered on feeling - how the wind's gentle melody soothed her, and how revitalizing it felt whenever it swept by her. Then there was the yielding contact of the blossoms on her… and below her, and the sense that she was alone, the only one with these feelings.
Even so, she wishes to share this simple happiness with the silent Sesshoumaru-sama.
Rin just laid there, not sleeping, but her eyes were closed and a serene, tranquil ambiance flowed around her. Time was forgotten.
Rin took a sharp intake of breath and with rapid haste, sat up. "S-Sesshoumaru-sama!" She sat up, a guilty look in her large eyes.
He entered through the ring of trees, an unreadable expression about him. "What are you doing?" His voice was soft, and deep.
Rin couldn't think of response right away. "Sesshoumaru-sama, Rin was playing and forgot to come back."
He didn't answer, and didn't even look at her. He gazed at the clearing, his molten-gold eyes shifting slowly. He wasn't going to explain to her the thoughts that shot through his head when he returned only to find a snoring Jaken. He wasn't going to tell how he had troubles trying to follow her scent, heavily masked by the Sakura petals. He wasn't going to tell her the brief—very brief—moment of alarm that held him.
"It's cold. And you should be sleeping." No. She did not need to know.
It was not that cold. Not to her, anyhow. She still felt warm; and very much cozy in her current state. "Rin is sorry, Sesshoumaru-sama."
A brief moment of silence reigned. "How did you come about this place?" His gaze finally fell on her, and Rin stared back, right in those blazing, ocher eyes.
'Sesshoumaru-sama isn't angry.' For a moment, she thought he was, but that was ridiculous. Sesshoumaru-sama was never angry with her! Still, for a second there…
"Exploring." Rin answered simply. Then a huge smile broke out on her face, "It's beautiful, ne?"
Sesshoumaru didn't give an immediate reply. What he did give, hardly counted as a response anyway. "Hn." He seemed to be thinking of something. She could barely tell, but there was something troubling him.
Sometimes, when she wanted to—when she could—she could decipher what went on in his mind. She had no shame staring at him to figure it out, and sometimes it took awhile, and she had to stare for a long time. He didn't seem to mind; if he did, he never spoken. Not even Jaken could read Sesshoumaru-sama like she could.
But even now, as she squinted up with every intention of blatant scrutinizing at him, she could only comprehend a bit. Something was bothering Sesshoumaru-sama. He would not let her know, of course. His pride and dignity demanded too much.
A lean hand reached up to pluck a stray petal from his pelt. Instead of crushing it and letting it plummet, as Rin might have imagined, he merely let the petal sidle from his clawed fingers.
Maybe she doesn't know him all that well, yet. She intends to find out everything she could about the enigmatic Sesshoumaru-sama.
"Rin." Before Rin knew it, Sesshoumaru was walking towards her with slow, eased steps. He gazed directly into her wide brown eyes. "How do you like traveling like this?"
It was almost exasperating how he managed to always keep a steady tone along with a fixed expression unremittingly. Almost, though. It was the reason she stayed with him, after all.
"Like... this?" A puzzled look washed over Rin.
"With me. With Jaken." His voice was so soft, that the breeze seemed to carry it away.
She blinked, and then grinned with that childish look. "Oh! Rin likes it very much, Sesshoumaru-sama!"
A slight frown cast on his face. "Are you certain?" His tone never shifted.
Rin nodded her head vigorously. "Yes!" Her head bounced up and down.
Sesshoumaru looked at her, as if he wasn't sure if she really meant it or not. His tapered eyes followed the drifting petals, and facing from Rin, inquired, "Why?"
"B-because…" Rin frowned when she realized she couldn't give an answer. So she asked the question again in her mind and blurted out the answers that instantaneously came to her. "I...You're different, Sesshoumaru-sama! I feel safe around you. I—" She couldn't phrase the rest of her meanings in words, so she just grinned at Sesshoumaru with radiant eyes, "Sesshoumaru-sama is very kind to Rin!"
Sesshoumaru turned around and continued to watch her, but it didn't unnerve Rin, who stared back with a childlike, innocent curiosity. Sesshoumaru felt a sardonic smile creep upon him. 'Kind. That's the last anyone would think of to describe this Sesshoumaru-sama.' The derisive thought came unconsciously to him, shaped by Rin's answer.
"Hn." She said safe. She said that she felt safe around him when she—at the very least—shouldn't.
"Rin knows the truth." The wistful tone in her pitched voice caught his attention, knowing that something that she was about to say was out of cadence. "Others think Sesshoumaru is a youkai who can't feel anything. They think you are so cold and mean, Sesshoumaru-sama." She shook her head, giggling, as if finding the ignorance of those 'others' so funny.
That was random, all right. He had definitely not expected that.
"It's not true at all. They're silly. You do feel, Sesshoumaru-sama, just like everyone else. You just don't show your feelings to protect yourself." As if on second thought, she added, "You don't show it... to protect Rin."
"You smile and cry just like Rin, Sesshoumaru-sama." She played with the petals on the floor and smiled brilliantly at him. "Sesshoumaru cares too. He wouldn't let Rin stay with him if he didn't." She nodded affirmatively, having confidence of what she said was true.
He looked at her as she spoke, a steadfast look on him. He never even blinked during her declaration. He didn't know how to respond to that. Hell, he didn't even know how to think of it.
The girl was either surprisingly accurate, or was reading him wrong, way wrong. He'd like to think that the imprudent girl was mistaken; but now he knew how she felt about all of this, about him - and surprisingly enough, much to his own beating discomfort, he was relieved.
A smile tugged ever-so-slightly at the corner of his lips at the way she was trying so hard to sound so mature and proficient. Only slightly though, but it didn't seem to matter – Rin seemed convinced that somewhere in that cold exterior, lies a heart.
Rin continued, oblivious, "Sesshoumaru-sama is kind, he won't let the bad things get to Rin."
'Wolves. She meant the demon wolves that savaged her.'
"No." Sesshoumaru answered roughly. He caught himself, and realized that there was no falseness in what he was about to say. "I'll protect you." His voice grown softer, regarding the young girl before him. He didn't mind that she knew. He didn't mind that he, the mighty Lord of the Western lands, was expressing himself in such a way to a mere human girl. It was only fair that he allowed some sort of the hidden emotion out after what she proclaimed.
"Rin knows!" A notable look was in her eyes as she approached him. "Sesshoumaru-sama has flowers in his hair!" Rin giggled and, on her tippy-toes, reached up to Sesshoumaru's long, silver hair to pluck two frail petals out. She cupped them in her hands, with Sesshoumaru watching impassively, and blew on them. The two shriveled Sakura petals flew easily, carried off by the wind, and sent swirling with the hundreds of blossoms flying about. "Go." Rin smiled, watching the two petals, "Be with the rest."
'Such innocence.' His eyes wavered faintly, and a frown came upon him.
She was pure, when he was not.
He was a youkai that kills and she... she is a mortal girl that lives.
These two sorts simply cannot mix.
Rin, as if noticing Sesshoumaru-sama's more-tensed-than-usual form, twisted to look at him. "Sesshoumaru-sama?" Gold eyes slowly turned to look at her. There was swirling mist in them - something pained and unsure. She didn't like it. She didn't like it at all.
Rin worried, never seeing her Sesshoumaru-sama like this before. She thought hard, hoping to find the origin of the problem.
Suddenly, thoughts came rushing to her: when Sesshoumaru approached her, when Sesshoumaru asked her that silly question, why Sesshoumaru has that look on him.
"Sesshoumaru-sama." Her voice was soft, something that Sesshoumaru noticed immediately. He slowly swiveled to face her.
"Sesshoumaru-sama, y-you're not going to leave Rin, are you?" Tears glazed over her eyes, and her voice cracked a bit at the notion that it might be true. "Rin doesn't want to leave her Sesshoumaru-sama!" She shook her head, as if to purge the horrible thought.
The thought never came to him, but as Rin continued to stare at him with misty eyes, he wonders if it perhaps be best.
Leave her out there?
His eyes narrowed.
The thought now came to be absurd. She could never be left alone. She could never defend herself. She couldn't be left in a village, where she might never be accepted, and there's always the possibility that she could be assaulted by a youkai at any given time.
"No." She would be safest with him. "I won't desert you."
The watery eyes were dried in a second, and a wide smile broke out. "Really, Sesshoumaru-sama? Rin can stay with you forever?"
She wanted to stay with him.
He wanted her by his side.
It was decided.
"If that's what you desire." He answered, looking away. He still had the severe look of a hardened youkai, but Rin still gave him that endearing grin.
She suddenly wrapped her arms around Sesshoumaru's legs, her own height only reaching to the top of his knees. She nuzzled her face in the silk fabric of his pants. Sesshoumaru looked down at her, apathetic and straight-faced - but a gleam of light flickered briefly in his eyes at the little girl that embraced him and the delighted smile that followed on her round race.
She was everything he was supposed to be against. Yet, that didn't matter - she's one exception he will permit himself to make.
She released him, and gave Sesshoumaru a wide grin. She gave an overjoyed laugh and ran around the clearing, yelling and laughing, "Rin stays with Sesshoumaru-sama forever!" The wind picked up again, causing cherry blossoms to flutter like leaves around her.
Sesshoumaru looked after her, following her small form. His eyes never left the laughing girl. His voice quiet and soft, something never expected to be heard from Sesshoumaru, spoke silently. "I won't let anything happen to you. I promise that."
That, he knew, would be certain.
She claims he had a heart that beats and feel. She understood that he suffered too. She told him in words how she felt. Foolish girl… and yet there still needs to be a fair exchange.
So he will tell her by actions how he…
Damnit. Even now it was difficult to divulge this to himself.
In return, by his actions, he will reveal how he felt, in his fierce means to always protect her.
Sesshoumaru could still hear her rapturous laughter flowing through the trees, and all around him.
He decided to claim this secluded spot, with the many trees and rocks, for him and for Rin.