EPILOUGE – One Year Later

It was raining again.

Sesshomaru stood at the window, which was open to reveal the peaceful night and the warm summer rain which was carried on a clean-smelling breeze past the window of his son's room.

His son…he still had a hard time accepting that he had helped create something as small and precious as the tiny little boy sleeping against his shoulder now. Granted, he was a little over a year old, so he wasn't nearly as small as he had been but…

Sesshomaru sighed, taking in the scent of pines and rain. After he had found Rin, and convinced her – then Inuyasha, Kagome, Sango, and Miroku that he wasn't going to hurt her – the two of them had returned to the fortress. Needless to say, everyone had been nothing short of shocked to see that they had a baby in tow, and Sakura and Ino had nearly trampled people to see him first (with Lei not very far behind, though he staunchly stood by his story that he was "just looking out for his sisters"). Keiji had, understandably enough, been not the least bit happy to be someplace completely unfamiliar, with new faces and smells but for the most part as long as his mother was near, he was okay.

But if she left scent range…

Not that Sesshomaru himself had been particularly trusted by the infant at first. Granted, he had smelled similar to his son – and his mother sometimes – but it had taken a lot cuddling and him feeding his son himself with a "bottle" and Rin being nearby to reaffirm the bond before his son had stopped fussing every time Rin left them alone. But he had, and it had been more than worth it.

Now that he was considered "pack" to his son, Keiji's eyes would light up for him whenever he walked in the room just as they did for his mother…and just as his mother's did for her mate. Sesshomaru stared down at the boy sleeping against him when he nuzzled closer as the breeze hit him. Closing the window and turning away, Sesshomaru set his son back in the crib they used for him.

He was strong, Sesshomaru thought as the boy curled over on his side, his downy hair shining cool silver in the moonlight. He had started walking a few weeks ago, and saying words beyond the instinctive Inu-youkai language before that. Most of it was still baby babble, but he and Rin were able to sort a few names and syllables here and there. Included in his repertoire were okaa and otou (or "'Tou!") his first and second words respectively and quickly following were Lei, Sakura, Ino and Atoki. Or, rather, 'Ei, 'Akura, 'No and 'Toki. Lei had quickly taught him the trick of clicking his fangs together with his mouth open, while simultaneously nodding his head, much to Rin's consternation. Lei however, had found the whole thing great fun and the two of them would sit there and do it for quite some time….usually when Rin was in the room, just to watch her fume.

Sesshomaru chuckled to himself, walking out of the room and sliding the shoji door shut behind him.

Rin for her part, had resumed her responsibilities as Lady of the House, only now she was Lady of the Western Lands as well, and had resumed weapon and combat training with Atoki as well. Sesshomaru chuckled to himself. Of course, she would have to stop that pretty soon…

He had received word a few months ago that Lady Alina had given birth to her first child, a little girl Kenji named Yasumi, and that he would be sending a envoy of a dozen soldiers to the West soon as permanent recruits and a show of ongoing peaceful relations between their provinces.

Of course, Sesshomaru would be sending a few soldiers as well, as a show of his good faith as well. Not that he was particularly happy about it.

He had also been notified that Shukumei and Raidon were officially mated as of a few weeks ago with his mother's whole-hearted blessing just before she passed on.

Sesshomaru shook his head wryly as he slid open the door to his chambers. A Lord and a Laundry Maid….who would've thought? Not that he didn't wish them the best of luck; he was happy that Shukumei had finally found a place to belong. He could only too well recall a young girl's frightened eyes as she stared up at him apprehensively and awaited him to decide her fate. Though she had grown up and been healthy in his household, he had known for a very long time that she had never felt as if she belonged there, and had never truly gotten over the trauma the death of her herd had caused. If his father's old friend could bring her a measure of peace, and she bring him one as well, he would be glad for the both of them.

As for himself, Sesshomaru often found that since Rin had returned to the castle, he had been more content then he could remember being in a very, very long time. Things were still not perfect between himself and his mate; they had occasional clashes, personality and opinion differences, but for the most part, things ran fairly smoothly. She would still make sure he ate and would come by when paperwork got annoying. And as often as not he would find Lei, Ino and Sakura with her and Keiji by the fireside in the evenings; Rin reading or going over a list, Lei practicing with his boken in a corner and Ino and Sakura keeping Keiji amused and not clicking his teeth. He couldn't stop the warmth that spread in his chest when he walked in on scenes like that and Keiji would see him and start burbling happily and Ino, Sakura and Lei would call of wave hello, and Rin... Rin would look up at him and smile, all of the love and joy in the world shining out of her beautiful cinnamon eyes.

Sesshomaru lifted up the covers on the futon and slid in between the blankets, yawning. In her sleep, Rin scooted a little closer and Sesshomaru twined his arm around her ever-expanding middle obligingly, feeling the gentle shifting movement beneath his palm as the unborn baby kicked.

'Finally,' he thought to himself, nuzzling into his mates neck, taking in her sweet scent and the deep forest ponds smell that accompanied it. 'She is finally where she belongs. And I…I am where I belong too.'

And with that last thought, he drifted off to sleep as the rain pattered gently against the window.

A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed, weather with thoughts, ideas, comments or even just an encouraging word. It meant the world to me!

To answer some questions I've ben receiving... Will there be a sequel? Maybe. I've been working on his story for a year now, and I don't know hoe egar I am to jump right on into another chapter fic, which promises to give me more hell than this one did. I have other ideas I want to explore, and focusing soely on another monster fic will undoubtedly hinder that.

Monster fic? Yes, even though it was only 13 chapters, this fic equaled out to be a total of 183 pages, with each chapter coming out to approxiametly 15 pages, give or take a few. With a full-time job where I'm on call 24 hours a day, every day (yes, that means holidays too) it was not an easy task. I do however have plans for several one-shots, or self-contained, multi-part fics. I don't like cliffhngers anymore than most of us, but I do try to leave one with a sense of anticipation.

I currently have five fics I'm working on, and three of them will deffinietly be posted here, so be looking for them!