A Sesshomaru and Rin Tale
Disclaimer: I own a Sesshomaru plushie, and he will always be mine no matter what. Everything else is up to the lawyers.
Rin was in love with everything Sesshomaru.
She loved his hair, which was long and soft. Sometimes he would let her comb it with her fingers, or put a small braid or two in it. She loved his eyes, which were for the most part gold, but always varying in shades and intensities. When he watched her eat, they were a dull yellow, like the pollen that often dusted her clothes. When he scolded her, they were dark and heavy, like sand. When he watched her as she drifted off to sleep, they were bright as a dandelion. She loved his markings. It fascinated her that his stripes had the appearance of wounds, but were no different from the texture of his skin. To her, they were both a reminder that he was not human, and a beautiful display of his power. She was in love with his clothes. The silk was the finest she had ever dreamed, and despite the fact that he wore mostly white, he never seemed to get dirty in any way. She was in love with his pelt. The large bundle of fur he carried on his shoulder was his bed, and sometimes hers on the coldest of nights. It rippled with a life of its own when caught in the wind, and served to hold many a bouquet or chain of flowers while he was at rest.
But what she loved the most was his boots.
In the seven years of her life, she had never owned a pair of shoes. It had never occurred to her that people needed shoes; no one in her family ever did. After her family died, Rin saw that people in the new village she lived in wore sandals, but never anything more substantial than that. Sesshomaru's boots were the first proper shoes she had ever seen, and she was immediately taken in by them.
She had felt them with her tiny hands, and found them to be hard leather, but smooth and soft to the touch. A closer inspection revealed that they went under the cuff of his pants and up his leg, but for how high she could not tell. Even she was not that bold to inquire about such things. Jakken occasionally cleaned and polished them with a piece of cloth. Once, Rin asked if she could try it, and Sesshomaru let her while he watched, barely showing amusement. When Rin had finished, she inspected her work and found that it wasn't as good as Jakken-sama could do, but for her first try she felt satisfied. Jakken had squawked at her to get out of the way so he could finish her poorly done work, but Sesshomaru-sama stood and walked away before the toad could get close. Rin beamed. Apparently, her work was good enough for him. She had proven herself useful.
They looked so regal. Villagers wore sandals. Kagura was barefoot, as was Jakken, though the image of him wearing shoes was quite comical in her mind. Kohaku wore soft slippers that protected his feet but gave him the full range of motion being barefoot offered. No one else wore boots but Sesshomaru-sama.
After her year of traveling with Sesshomaru-sama and Jakken-sama, she could distinguish her master's footsteps from yards away. The heavy, crushing noise the boots made was a herald of his return, and she would eagerly run to greet him as if the boots had called her name. Wherever he had come from, surely the lesser creatures he encountered groveled before the boots as he walked past. She had seen it on occasion. Youkai and ningen alike could recognize his authority, and bowed at his feet, trembling and waiting for him to pass. But she never had to. She was a special follower of Sesshomaru-sama, and as such could admire him without acting like a worm.
She followed the boots.
Rin was not the first human that Sesshomaru had ever struck up a rapport with. In his youth, there had been a girl who lived in the House of the West as a servant, and there earned her place as the first female Sesshomaru was ever agreeable with outside of his mother. Her name was Chiyoko.
When the great Inu no Taishio claimed a new annex to his land, he claimed every resident therein to be under his rule. That included humans. For the most part, he was impartial to them, interceding on their behalf if they were threatened by war, but not involving himself in their everyday affairs. This policy would change as Sesshomaru grew older though, and he would eventually watch his father take a human wife from the highest house in the West.
Chiyoko was servant to Sesshomaru's mother Mariko. The girl was rescued and raised by the Lady of the West as a favored "pet." Chiyoko's mother died in childbirth, and her father died from disease when she was 3 years of age. Under the care of the Lady Mariko, the little human girl became an indispensable servant and a reluctant playmate to the young lord. Relatively the same age, the two children were raised together under the guise that nothing separated them from being equal in the eyes of the Western rulers. Then Sesshomaru cut his fangs, and dripped poison from his claws. The human girl-child was deemed too fragile and weak to spend time with Sesshomaru; he was to be surrounded with the strongest of influences to help him grow into a powerful demon.
Their paths crossed little after adolescence. She was sequestered in Mariko's wing of the house, while Sesshomaru occupied his father's. Chiyoko did her best to become invisible, while the young lord fought his way into notoriety. By the time he was a teenager, he had already commanded a battalion of his father's army in a war against the cat demons of China. She was a respected seamstress, and made many of the Lady Mariko's finest kimonos in the seclusion of her room.
When Mariko died, Chiyoko was allowed to stay in the house as a maid. Sesshomaru inherited his mother's room, and Chiyoko moved into Sesshomaru's old room. Now, they saw each other everyday at meals, when she served the household in the open. This was the only time she was permitted to leave her room; it was deemed to be in the best taste that she remain behind closed doors for as much as possible. While it was not uncommon to have a human servant, it was common for that servant to become a target for cruel tricks by visiting demons. After all, a human life was practically disposable. But Chiyoko made it known that she would not be taken that lightly.
Her temper was unmatched. She had been known to make even the Inu no Taishio break a sweat. Though she was only allowed to roam about during meal times, Sesshomaru knew that she often went outside late at night and walked about the gardens, before Mariko-sama had died. He had seen her, when he too was treading along the darkened paths, fighting insomnia. To the best of his knowledge, she had never seen him, but on the mornings after he had been up all night, Chiyoko was quick to refill her young lord's tea, and avoided eye-contact for the whole day. Chiyoko was not an outstanding beauty, but she had a brilliant spirit that illuminated her eyes with life, and often mischief. The bridge of her nose was lightly dusted with freckles, and with her little button nose she appeared much younger than she really was. She was strong, with an athletic build, and so earned her place helping the elder and younger lords lay the finishing touches on their armor before leaving the house. The Inu no Taishio often praised the girl in a fatherly manner, telling her that it was because she knew how to fit his armor so comfortably that he was able to fight as well as he did. Sesshomaru was not prone to such displays of sentiment, but he felt a secret pride in leaving the house with such a clean polish on his armor and boots. No matter how dirty he had gotten them, the girl was always able to make them look brand new. It was Chiyoko who fought a losing battle against the boots.
Sesshomaru had been known to be…impulsive in his excursions out of doors during his youth. Many a time, he would get the urge to abandon his sword and take down enemies with his fangs and claws. Bloodlust was something he learned to relish in. He would look for trouble, and then wear the results home. With practice, Sesshomaru learned to hold his clothes within his youki, and "heal" them as he would his own flesh. He could clean them on his own, if needed. But it was not so with the boots. They would be removed and kicked against the wall in the hall just inside the doorway. Chiyoko was to make sure that by the time the young lord left the house again, the boots were spit polished and shined to perfection so they could be worn and dirtied all over again.
Sesshomaru was ashamed, but powerless to stop it. Chiyoko was positively alluring when an angry blush fanned across her cheeks, and her inky eyes sparked with annoyance. It was a secret pleasure of his, to work her into a rage and admire the results. Any other time, he could convince himself that she was not worth his consideration because she was human, but not when she was mad. When Chiyoko got mad, she wasn't human. She wasn't anything he had ever known. She was a radiant beauty that burned his heart the longer he looked at it. So he made it a point to come home with mud-caked boots, whether by circumstance or on purpose. And then he would smile sadistically and watch the girl scream and fume when she discovered that once again, she would have to scrape a swamp from off of his shoes.
He supposed she was the way she was because she had been raised by demons. All of the other humans he encountered were frightened in his presence. Chiyoko was frightened of nothing. Nor did she dress like a human. Nothing about her was ornamental, and she invested no time at all in trying to further perfect her appearance. Demons were flawless to begin with, with eternal youth keeping them beautiful with no effort on their parts. Chiyoko wore no make up, nor jewelry, and always kept her long hair in a tight braid down her back. And she managed to look just as perfect as any demon. She certainly had the spirit of a demon. One of her favorite things to do was to end a conversation with Sesshomaru by turning her body around abruptly and whipping him in the face with her braid as she walked away. It became frighteningly easier for Sesshomaru to forget Chiyoko was human at all.
Until she died.
It was Chiyoko who laid the foundations for Rin, not only in Sesshomaru's fascination with human companionship, but also in the deepest recesses of his heart. It was there that Chiyoko's broad, ivory hands fastening the clasps of his breastplate were remembered. There too, was the combined sting of her words and her hair as she retreated haughtily from a heated discussion. Her bravest smiles, and the way she ran with her arms flapping at her sides like wings were tucked deep into the folds of darkness within the powerful demon. But at the bottom of everything, buried underneath centuries of shame and anger, was Sesshomaru's helpless admiration of the beautiful human girl he loved to torment.
Rin found her footing within that chasm when she found herself standing inside the boots.
It had been three years since Naraku had been defeated. It had been close to seven years that Rin had followed Sesshomaru throughout the Western Lands. It had been the first time that she was old enough to feel awkward from an encounter with her master.
He had been soaking in a hot spring, something that he very rarely did when she first traveled with him, but now seemed to enjoy upon occasion. Rin deduced that bathing was something that left you vulnerable to attack, and the threat of Naraku was real enough to keep Sesshomaru highly alert to his surroundings. He was never one to be caught unawares.
Yet as well as she knew this to be true, she still thought she would be undetected when she crept close to the spring. She wasn't trying to peek; Rin had not grown that bold, and the idea was still not something appealing to her young mind. No, instead she was intent on trying the boots on for herself.
He had taken off his armor, silken clothes, and the boots away from the spring, so as not to get them dirty or damp from the sulfur and steam. The swords and a long robe went with him, so he would be prepared to fight if needed, or just be prepared to walk back to his belongings. This gave Rin time to indulge her childhood fascination. With as much stealth as a gawky, gangly girl could muster, she crept over to the boots and snatched them in her hands before she could think better of herself. They looked so…funny without his feet in them. The soles were firm but the tops flopped over and fluttered in her hands like extra skin. Hesitantly, she brushed the dirt from one of her small feet and slid it into the black void of the opening. The sole still extended far past her toes, and gapped slightly behind her heel. The other foot followed suit, and she stood up in the borrowed shoes and inspected how they looked. There were buttons going up the sides that held the leg of the boot around the leg of the wearer, she found. Not wanting to risk taking the time doing the buttons, she grasped the tops of the boots and held them up against her legs. That looked a little better to her liking, but they were still impossibly large. It was as if the shoes were devouring her legs.
Rin giggled. Carefully, she tried taking a step forward, and immediately wobbled and had to fight for her balance. She dragged the other foot next to the first, unwilling to take the risk of another step. From inside the boots, Rin curled her toes and found that she could somewhat walk inside of the shoes she was supposed to walk with! She giggled again, and tried taking another step forward. This time, she took a much bigger step, and let her foot slide inside of the boot with her body's momentum. This allowed her to keep her balance, and the other foot soon followed in a similar fashion.
She marveled at how small her feet were in comparison to his. Rin wondered if she herself would ever grow to be as big as her lord, so she could have boots of her own. She had already grown so much in the past year, and Jakken-sama kept telling her that she was only growing so fast because she was eating all the time. Rin had to admit that she needed much more food to satisfy her hunger lately, and needed to rest more frequently. Her body ached a lot, mainly in her limbs and her chest. Her skin felt like it was stretching to cover her rapidly expanding frame, and it wasn't able to keep up with the pace of her growth. If this is what becoming an adult brought her, then Rin wanted no part of it.
Without warning, she heard a male voice clear its throat, and her head bolted up to see what she feared most. Sesshomaru-sama was standing before her, wearing a long yukata while his wet hair was twisted and laying off of one of his shoulders.
Rin panicked. Her first instinct was to run away, but when she tried she remembered too late that she was still wearing the boots, and fell flat on the ground. Turning on her belly towards her lord, she immediately grappled onto the earth with everything she could, digging her fingers into fists through the soil. Something made her feel like she was going to suddenly fly away if she didn't hold on, because her heart was racing so fast and her head felt so light. She gritted her teeth and squeezed her eyes shut, waiting for something to happen. After waiting for what seemed like her entire life-span, and realizing that nothing had happened, she chanced to look up at Sesshomaru-sama.
He was standing in front of her, with his hand covering his mouth and one eyebrow raised. Rin couldn't tell if he was amused or bewildered, but expected it was probably a mixture of both. His cheekbones were higher and his eyes glinted mysteriously. Rin thought for a second that he was smiling underneath his hand, but felt her stomach lurch and her muscles tense at that thought. Jakken had always told her that the master was much more dangerous when he smiled than when he was angry. Rin trembled slightly, and looked down with wide eyes at the dirt beneath her face, waiting for him to punish her.
Gently, Sesshomaru grabbed the collar of Rin's robe and lifted her upright and out of the boots. He then set her on her feet on the ground and took one swipe across her shoulders to smooth away the wrinkles his grip had caused. Quietly, he picked up his boots and sat down on a fallen log nearby, looking to Rin as if he was waiting for her to follow him over. With fear in every footstep, Rin tip-toed over to her master and knelt by his feet, keeping her head down.
Sesshomaru did nothing to encourage or discourage Rin's show of apology. Instead, he started to put his boots on. Rin looked up when she heard the hollow noise of the space inside the boot being filled. After he had put the second boot on, he pressed his heels into the ground and rocked his feet back and forth, adjusting the fit. He looked briefly at Rin from underneath his bangs, before he shifted his concentration to the row of buttons going up the side of his leg. The button closest to his ankle was fastened first. He did this slowly, as if he wanted Rin to learn how a button worked. She had never touched a button before, but she had seen them and knew their function was to hold two parts of something together. The second button was fastened, and suddenly Rin wanted to try. Her hands quivered in her lap, and she glanced up at her lord to see if he was annoyed with her in any way. His face was calm and his features schooled into the bored face of indifference he almost always wore. His clawed fingers fastened the third button, but when he went for the fourth, he encountered some resistance.
Rin's hands bolted out and took hold of the button and the boot, and she jumped when Sesshomaru moved his hand. At first she thought he meant to push her back, but he merely moved it out of her way and watched her intently to see what she would do. With determination, Rin bit her lower lip inside of her mouth, and worked to fasten the fourth button.
It took her a few tries, but at last she figured out how to apply the right amount of pressure into pushing the button through the hole in the fabric.
Sesshomaru cautiously reached forward until the pads of his fingers were pressed against the underside of Rin's chin. Gently, he hinged this thumb up and pressed it to her nose, before he rubbed the dirt she had there off. For a few moments longer, he held her face in his hand, inspecting her, until he finally withdrew and stood up.
"You may go wash off now," he calmly commanded.
Rin nodded, all speech lodging inside of her throat like a wad of meat. With wobbling speed, she stood up and ran towards the spring, intent on following her master's bidding.
Somehow, she knew that the moment that had just passed altered their relationship. They would look upon each other with different minds after that point on. She had taken on the role of his admirer in a fashion, and was destined to mature along that path. Sesshomaru had accepted this. He was still her guardian, and still her master. He had given her everything she wore and carried; without him she would have nothing. But she had crossed an invisible line when she stepped into his shoes. His role had changed, too.
Rin had made her first unspoken claim that just as Sesshomaru made up the majority of her life, she was beginning to own a permanent space in his. She was a part of him. Sesshomaru would not be sending her away, ever. He was her companion, just as much as she was his. They needed to be together, yes, but more importantly, now they both wanted to be together.
She wasn't surprised to hear him outside her door.
The darkness greeted her when her eyes fluttered open. Rin sighed gently and let herself adjust to the change of both being in the dark and being awake. She had been yanked suddenly from a lovely dream; something in which she was picking flowers in a meadow with her young son. The father of the child was not present in the dream, nor could Rin recall any of the boy's features. But she could remember his white hair. The sound of footsteps invaded her dream, and the child took off running towards the source. She just knew it was the father of the child, coming to greet them both. But she couldn't see him. She ran after her son, and just when she was lifting her head to see the figure of her dream husband, her eyes opened and she was back to reality. It took her a moment to realize what had woken her: the sound of footsteps in the corridor outside of her room. The familiar tread revealed to her immediately who the midnight walker was, but she felt no reason to question his presence. After all, he had done this so many times before.
So many nights, when she awakened herself from a nightmare with sobs that wracked her small body, she would hear him outside of her door. He never entered; it was not his way. She never expected him to enter, either. Her lord was not the kind to coddle any sign of weakness. When she fell and scraped her knee, he told her to get up. When she broke her arm after falling out of a tree, he barked at her to silence her tears. When she learned what a lie was, he made very clear the consequences of lying to him would be harsh. When she fell sick, he abandoned her and went about his own business.
But as stern and as hard as he had been on her during her childhood with him, he was never cruel. After he told her to get up from scraping her knee, he let her weave a daisy chain for his head. True, it went straight from his crown to around Ah's ears, but he had worn it for her those briefest of moments. After she had broken her arm that one time, he had swiftly set the appendage in a splint with his own hands. He let her ride Aun as much as she wanted, and commanded that Jakken was also always to accompany her in searching for food, in case she needed assistance. After she told him the truth when he had asked her of Kohaku's whereabouts, though it surely meant the death of the boy she had come to like, he merely nodded. Kohaku was let be, and while he claimed his actions were meant to infuriate Naraku, she knew he was rewarding her honesty. Though she did fall ill several times during the course of her maturation, and though he did leave her company, he never left her alone. She was always entrusted into the care of a human healer, and he always returned to retrieve her and resume their travels. And the nightmares? Just the same, he would not hug her, or speak reassurances to her when she was troubled by the terrors in her dreams. Instead, he walked.
It was the sound of his footsteps that always lulled her back to sleep after the nightmares. No matter how much more terrible the wolves' teeth had grown, or how many bandits joined in on killing her family, he would walk and they would fade. Entire armies of youkai would bow at the approach of his boots. Why would dreams be any different? He was authority, and his presence alone was enough of a command. As soon as she heard his boots treading softly around the camp, or outside her door, the tears would subside and her heart would calm. He was there, protecting her like always, and reminding her that he would continue to do so, no matter how many nightmares appeared.
Rin sat up in bed slightly and listened to the soft, yet commanding footfalls of her master, her Sesshomaru-sama. Much to her amusement, she quickly found that just as the noise had woken her up, it was quickly lulling her back to sleep. It had been quite some time since she had woken herself up screaming from a nightmare; adulthood brought her confidence even in her sleep. But she refused to surrender and close her eyes; something was different in his pace. Come to think of it, she didn't remember having a nightmare; her dream had been quite pleasant. Why then was he walking outside of her door?
True, she had noticed lately he would refuse to make eye contact with her. And when she would go out walking in the shiro's garden, or the field just outside the main gate, he would suddenly appear out of nowhere, watching her. One minute, she was scanning her surroundings for butterflies, and would lower her eyes to pick a flower, only to raise them and find Sesshomaru standing in the far corner of her field of vision. He would say nothing, which was not especially out of the ordinary because he rarely spoke to begin with. However, Rin found this particular silence to be somewhat disturbing, on a level she was not quite familiar with. His eyes were speaking to her, while his lips sealed themselves into a thin line. She saw…something in his eyes, but she just could not decipher what it was. Before she could ruminate any further on the matter, Sesshomaru would disappear, leaving Rin alone and utterly shaken. And the worst part was, she liked it.
Sesshomaru's steps were becoming notably shorter in pace and longer in length. He seemed to be walking back and forth deliberately in front of her door, but she had trouble distinguishing which direction he was walking due to the erratic timing of his footsteps. She strained to listen, trying to tell if he was just outside the door, or down the hall. Pushing the covers aside, Rin slowly lowered her legs off the mattress and touched her bare feet to the cold floor. She shuddered. The footsteps stopped.
For a moment, Rin balked. Was the master now upset in discovering she was awake? Had he noiselessly fled using his youki, as she had seen him do so many times? Was he looking for something, or waiting for something? The young woman swallowed hard and with trepidation and her best attempt at stealth, tip-toed closer to the door of her room. This time, she could clearly hear his footsteps from the hall. She felt her chest lighten with relief. He was most definitely there. But, she trembled again when she heard where his footsteps had stopped. He was most definitely right outside of the door.
Rin could feel her entire body freeze and then overheat in that second of realization. Her tongue went dry and her palms began to sweat. Her heart was beating wild with excitement but her mind was screaming loud with warning. Why, why, why? she thought. That was about the most cohesive she could force her thoughts into being; the rush of blood to her ears drowned out a chance of anything else.
When she reached the door, she stopped in her tracks and let her entire body fall still. They both seemed to regard one another through the wooden frame dividing them. Rin was scrambling her memory and training for the proper decorum in a situation such as this. Sesshomaru-sama had made sure she worked diligently from the very beginning at her manners, but nothing she ever learned had even remotely provided instruction for greeting your lord master at your bedroom door in the middle of the night. Was she to open the door, or would he? Was the door supposed to be opened at all? Was she supposed to get back into bed, and was he supposed to just walk away?
Sesshomaru moved his weight from one leg to another. Rin heard the shifting of his clothes, and knew that he was getting ready to take a step. He was going to walk away.
Faster than she ever knew herself to be, her hands flew to the door and inelegantly shoved it aside and open. "Sessho…" she cried out, but was immediately cut off.
Sesshomaru stood tall in Rin's doorway, looking straight down at her. Her cheeks were flushed from her sudden energy rush, and she quickly took a step back and cast her face aside in embarrassment.
"Sesshomaru-sama," she whispered.
He said nothing, and at first, he did not move. Then he gracefully reached out his clawed hand and curled his fingers under her chin to pull her face up. When her eyes encountered his own, she saw that he was smiling ever so subtly. The change in his mouth was almost imperceptible, but it was the change in his eyes that let her know. She found her mouth nervously opening into a smile of her own, before she suddenly felt embarrassed again and tried to look down and away. He would not let her.
Now, Rin felt more nervous than she ever had in her entire life. She wasn't exactly sure what was happening here, between her and her master, but it was both petrifying and comfortable at the same time. She rolled her eyes up to look at Sesshomaru through her long, black lashes, and saw that the smile in his eyes was replaced by something decidedly different. Having never seen this look before on her lord's face, Rin wasn't quite sure how to interpret it, or how to act in response. There was something serious about it, and from the depths of his eyes she could detect a swirling of power in the golden hues. However, she did not feel afraid of him anymore, and was gradually losing her fear of whatever it was that they were doing. After a few moments, she let her shoulders relax and stopped wringing her hands to lower them to her sides. Now, she looked at Sesshomaru with her head held higher, and her gaze steady.
He would not open his mouth to speak to her, but she could hear his breathing. It was measured and deep, like the cresting and falling of waves. He blinked slowly, almost sleepily, at her. Finally, he let his own hand fall to his side, and straightened his posture further.
More than ever, Rin realized just how tall her master was. As a small girl, everything was huge from her standpoint, but now that she was fully grown and an adult, things had a more realistic perspective. The adult Rin stood to the middle of his chest, and her arms could barely reach his ears when stretched. With a rush of emotion, Rin suddenly realized that more than anything she wanted to reach up and touch his oh so familiar face.
Timidly, her elbows bent, and she raised her hands in front of her to declare her intent. When he did not move, she took it as a sign of acceptance, and slowly raised her arms up and out to him. The pads of her fingertips met with his cheeks, and she hesitated, waiting for him to rebuke her or reject her. His eyes merely darkened, and his pupils dilated rapidly. Rin slid her palms onto his cheeks, before she combed her fingers up and down the stripes he wore there. Sesshomaru blinked once more, and heaved a heavy sigh that made his shoulders rise and fall. Rin bravely danced her fingers up to his pointed ears, where she rubbed gently. Her confidence grew, and the smile on her face widened. He was making no motion to touch her himself, but she noticed him gradually leaning forward to lessen the strain on her ever higher stretching arms. At last, she tangled her fingers in his hair, and combed across and down to the back of his head, resting her hands at the nape of his neck. Though he had bent forward slightly, her arms were almost completely vertical against his chest and up to his neck. Sesshomaru looked down to the girl hanging onto him, the ever present spark of adoration in her eyes.
Rin felt her lips tingle and her stomach tighten. Her cheeks grew hot and flushed, while her arms and legs felt cold. She knew they were going to kiss.
Her first kiss had been stolen from the taijiya boy, Kohaku. During Naraku's final days, Rin was shifted around in the care of various allies; sometimes with Kagome, sometimes the elderly miko Kaede, and sometimes the pretty taijiya Sango, Kohaku's older sister. That night in the village, Sango and her intended husband Miroku were walking about arm in arm, as if afraid to let one another go. The monk's cursed condition had become quite painful for him, as the wind hole in his hand ripped through his flesh quicker by the day. The couple had begged to be excused from the group, desperate for time alone, and perhaps their only time to say goodbye. Inuyasha never quite trusted Rin, and paid little attention to the girl; he was mostly engrossed with his sword, but never kept his attention too far from the strange miko girl he obviously cared for. Obvious to everyone but him and her, anyway. Kagome was trying desperately to calm herself by reading one of her many books she carried around, and acting like the end of the world wasn't nipping coldly on her ears. Shippou stayed very close to Kaede, claiming he was protecting her but quite obviously seeking comfort and protection for himself.
Emotion, especially strong emotion, was not something that Rin was comfortable being in the thick of. Her own emotions were enough to deal with. If Rin sat within the tense circle of the group for another second longer, she felt it would make her heart explode; excusing herself politely, she walked out of the village, to the border where the light of human fire and the dark of night clashed. There, she sat and tried to think of pleasant things: flowers, rice dumplings, the fox magic tricks Shippou had shown her that morning, and of course, Sesshomaru-sama. She wondered where he was, and if he was just as unnerved as everyone else on this night. While he didn't show it, Rin had learned to detect a few subtle traits that betrayed the demon's cool façade into revealing how he was actually feeling. When he twitched his left eyebrow, he was just beginning to get angry. When cracked his knuckles he was bored. When he tilted his head ever so slightly to the left, he was amused. When he cleared his throat he was annoyed. When he drew his lips into a thin line he was nervous.
As Rin sat and contemplated the inner workings of her master's mind, she was startled when a hand fell lightly on her shoulder. She jumped and twisted around to see Kohaku holding his arms up and grinning. She hadn't heard his approach due to the soft slippers he wore. And for some strange reason, Rin knew that before she got up and left for bed, Kohaku was going to kiss her.
All instinct told her to change fate and run back to the village lickety split. But she found herself nodding dumbly instead when the boy asked to sit by her side. Her body had betrayed her mind, and she felt completely defenseless. He talked to her nicely, asked her about how she found the weather (it's summer, it's hot like it's supposed to be), if she knew what type of flower it was she had placed in her hair (a stargazer lily, and she knew many, many other different types of flowers), where had her mind gone just before he came (chasing after a man with white hair, but she told him the moon instead). Then he surprised Rin by asking what she thought about him. She squinted, shrugged, and said he was very nice, had always been very nice to her, and had nice eyes. Rin couldn't think of any other word but "nice" for Kohaku; she knew very little about him, and felt any other comment might be a lie, so she stuck with what she had seen. He seemed to like what she had said, because he lowered his head and told her in a low voice that he thought she was nice too. Then he looked at her.
Their eyes locked, or rather, his eyes locked hers and kept them from moving away. She had wanted to look away. This whole situation made her feel like a frog in a hailstorm; her heart pounded nervously while her brain spun about in confusion. Why was this happening? Why was she doing nothing to stop it, or make it right again, or even make it worse? Why did he want to kiss her? She was only ten, and he was almost thirteen. How had she been able to deduce his intentions from the start?
Kohaku licked his lips, and very quickly kissed Rin.
The girl stared at him with large eyes as the boy turned from her and rubbed the back of his head. So that was her first kiss. It tingled on her lips, like she had been playing in the cold for too long. Suddenly, Rin felt a swell of irritation scratch around within her chest. Why had she let this happen? Why had he done this? Why did he have to be her first kiss? Why did it feel so wrong? Why was he still grinning sheepishly, like he had done something funny? It wasn't funny. It was awkward, and stupid, and…and…
"Rin has to go now," she announced, jumping to her feet and running back to the village.
That night, she cried herself to sleep. She had managed to break her own heart that day, because as infuriated as she was at the boy's action, she had, shamefully, liked the tingling left behind on her lips.
The warriors all left that morning, and did not return for three days. Sesshomaru arrived with them, looking as elegant as ever but also very, very tired. The hanyou Inuyasha was wounded severely, but otherwise fine, mainly due to the constant care he received from Kagome, who looked to be just as battered herself. The monk was holding the taijiya close to him, and she appeared to be asleep at first, until Rin saw her shaking and heard her sob. Everyone seemed depressed, but Sango was bereft with grief. And that's when Kohaku's absence hit Rin in the chest with a cold force.
What was left of him was cremated and buried at dawn the following day. Rin returned to the shiro with Sesshomaru-sama, Jakken-sama, Aun, and a guilty conscience.
It felt as if they already were kissing; the electric charge she felt in the air against her lips sent shivers down to her toes. For a moment, Rin held her body still and reveled in the knowledge that Sesshomaru-sama, the great Lord of the Western Lands, was about to kiss his human ward, the girl-child he had raised into adulthood. Her eyes danced about as she waited excitedly for what she knew to be coming. She felt her knees suddenly fall weak beneath her, and before she could get a hold of herself she wobbled and began to pitch sideways.
He caught her in a firm embrace around her back, and let her steady herself on her own before he relaxed his grip. His hand moved from gripping around her waist to settling softly in the small of her back. Rin's breath hitched and her eyes widened when she felt his fingers each trace against the fabric of her robe, enough so that it tickled her skin slightly. But he made no other movement towards her; he merely locked his joints in place and continued to stare down at her, with his eyes growing ever darker.
He…he wasn't going to kiss her, after all.
The realization hit Rin in a cold rush, and she felt her lip quiver as she turned her face away from his gaze. But she had been so sure that they were going to kiss just a few moments ago. He should have lowered his lips to hers when he caught her waist and pressed her body up against his own. Idly, Rin realized that he was not wearing his armor, but he still felt very hard against her own flesh. He was a man of strength, after all. Of great strength and power that Rin could never fully comprehend or have. Suddenly she felt herself grow even smaller in her lord's shadow, and with sadness in her heart, she unlaced her fingers and started to pull her arms down and back to her sides.
Sesshomaru bent his head to the side quickly and caught one of her hands between his jaw and his shoulder. He nuzzled against it gently to unfold her palm against his face, and closed his eyes. Rin watched his face ever so slightly contort into a grimace, and then a frown, before his features smoothed themselves into the cool and unaffected look she knew so well. He raised his eyebrows gently as he opened his eyes and stared at her anew. The tingling sensation on her lips had returned, and Rin gasped as she felt his fingers ever so slightly glide out and down from the hollow in her back. The knot in her body now extended from her throat, to her heart, to her stomach, while her knees trembled once more.
But…why did she feel like this again? He was giving her mixed signals, and Rin was going out of her mind trying to interpret his thoughts through his actions. She felt like she was going to laugh and cry at the same time, and with her eyes she pleaded for some sense of direction from her master.
"Rin," he whispered smoothly.
She understood. Sesshomaru righted his head and released her hand, letting her once more hook her fingers at the back of his neck. He growled softly in his throat, never taking his eyes from her, and Rin thought she would ignite into flames from blushing so hard. It was…not a sound she had heard her lord make before, but yet she understood why he had made it. He was trying to entice her, sending little chills through her body while comforting her doubts in his intentions. Now she knew what he wanted. But how would she reach him?
Rin first tried pulling herself up to him with her arms, but she still fell short. What she needed was something to stand on, and her toes absently searched for something on the floor she could use easily. One of her big toes stubbed against his boot, and an idea hatched. Rin looked down quickly to be sure of her footing, then looked up as she tentatively began to place the weight of her foot down on the top of his boot. His arm grew tight against her in order to provide support for her balance, and Rin confidently let both of her feet carry her weight from atop his boots.
She had waited for this moment, wanting it to happen for so long without ever really realizing it. Every nerve in her body ignited from underneath her skin, and to her horror she felt her mouth go dry. They were actually going to kiss. There would be no going back from this moment. After their kiss, their relationship as they knew it would be permanently altered, and either a new bond would be forged, or whatever was between them would crash to the floor to be broken forever. There was danger in kissing a demon. Rin could acutely feel his claws pressing into the fabric of her sleeping robe. She knew that underneath those lips she was longing to kiss, were sharp, vicious fangs that had ripped the flesh from creatures much greater than she. A thread of blood bolted across both of his eyes, and she could feel the weight of his youki enveloping her body. He could break her to pieces in many ways. And the question was: did he care at all for her?
Rin was pulling herself upward slowly with her arms, while a flurry of emotions pounded inside of her head. Was he merely lusting for her? Did he care for her as more than his traveling companion? Was this to be their only kiss? Would he send her away? Was he merely curious? Was he testing her to see how she would behave? Would he hold her and kiss her again and again after their first? Would he leave? Would he…stay?
Sesshomaru growled softly once more, and her thoughts were out the window, leaving Rin with a blank mind. Her lips were coming closer and closer to his, and she grew suddenly afraid that her heart would burst from her chest and she would die right then and there. She could feel his breath across her face, and to her surprise she found him to be breathing quite raggedly. The great Sesshomaru-sama was just as nervous about kissing a little human girl as the little human girl was nervous about kissing him. This was it.
Their lips brushed tentatively, before Sesshomaru finally lowered himself to Rin and parted his mouth against hers.
Rin felt herself grow dizzy, her body temperature repeatedly rise and fall, and her heart burst causing fireworks to light underneath her eyelids. In the back of her mind, she remembered dying felt similar to this. But quickly she was filled with new sensations throughout her body that led her into untried territory. Her hands moved of their own accord; one reached up from his neck to grasp into his hair, while the other moved down and around his ribcage, ending with her fisting the fabric covering the middle of his back. She wanted to push herself closer to him, and rose up onto her tip-toes. His hand moved to rest between her shoulder blades, and crushed her to his chest. Rin was panting for breath through her nose, but she didn't even notice. She felt his tongue tap once against her bottom lip, and she hungrily accepted him into her mouth.
Now, Sesshomaru was growling again, and tilting her backwards. Never once did their kiss break as he bent forward with her. Rin felt his fangs nip lightly against her lower lip, before he began slowly ending the kiss; first by removing his tongue and then pecking her lips gently before finally breaking all contact. Rin opened her eyes to see Sesshomaru staring intently into hers with a definite torch of longing flickering within his golden irises. She whimpered gently, mourning the loss of the kiss, and half begging for him to start again. Sesshomaru smiled gently, and pulled her back into an upright position.
He didn't seem to acknowledge the cooing of the young woman in his arm; he looked intently into the dark shadows of her room and held his breath. Rin twisted her head to see what had captured her lord's attention away from her so quickly. But there was nothing out of the ordinary to be seen. It was her room, just as she had left it. The covers of the bed were turned down. The window was open and the gossamer summer curtains were shifting with the barest breeze. Her dried flowers, and drawn pictures, and few toys that served as artifacts of her childhood all held their positions on her dressers. She looked to Sesshomaru once more, and found him still staring ahead, with his brow furrowed. Rin choked.
He was debating if he would enter, or not.
A fierce bellow of courage pounded within Rin's chest. Did he just expect that her kiss had been her consent, for him to do whatever he wanted with her? Was he so sure that she would kowtow to his pleasures, his desires, now that she had given him the slightest submission? Her mind warred with her heart; this behavior was not characteristic of her lord. He had cared for her, and protected her from all things dangerous. But by kissing him, she was no longer merely his ward. She was his woman; whether her role was to be his lady or his mistress was to be determined. He should expect her to obey him. But like this? Was loving him going to be an order? Did he…not truly love her? Rin's gaze narrowed, and she braced herself for protest. If he was to force her, she would not go without a fight. And while she surely would be broken for it, she would not quietly descend into his desires against her will. He would be made aware of that.
But Sesshomaru made no movement, save for lowering his face to look upon Rin once more. Again, his expression was chiseled in stone, leaving him looking slightly bored. Rin tightened her fists in his shirt and hair, and locked her body against his. He immediately recognized the signs of her resistance, and slackened his grip on her. He stepped back, letting her go altogether, and Rin stumbled off her perch from his boots to the floor. She stared at him, startled and bewildered, not quite knowing what to make of it. His eyes grew serious, and his lips pressed together into a thin line.
"Rin," he said in his rich baritone. You choose.
She nodded her understanding. It had been right for her heart to feel that he would never treat her in that fashion. Her fears from the uncertainty and newness of it all had clouded her vision, but she could see him clearly now. Sesshomaru was a demon by birth, but always a gentleman first. He was a noble, and acted thusly out of centuries of practice. Centuries, she mused, and I am but twenty. He had not changed at all during the near decade she had been with him.
No, she reprimanded herself, he has changed. He acted differently towards her, ever since she had shed the mantle of her childhood with her blood. He gave her more independence to pursue her own desires, and with that came his trust. He did not doubt her obedience to him, and she in return gave him no reason to. He insisted that she use her manners with frequency and proper execution. He trained her in self-defense, and taught her how to use a sword. The clothes he had made for her were patterned with flowers, not the bright checkers of her youth. She was made to walk behind him, with Jakken beside her as a proper escort, even through the thickest woods. He had been treating her as a grown woman. Now, his eyes were looking at her, as a grown man gazes upon a grown woman. He was acting as her suitor.
A pale blush blossomed on Rin's cheeks, and she smiled dumbly to herself. He was…letting her decide what he was to do in this relationship. She lifted her hands to her mouth to hide the ever widening smile there, and felt any lingering apprehension fade. But a cold vice grip settled in her chest when she looked up to see Sesshomaru starting to walk away from the door frame.
"My lord!" she cried out.
He stopped in his tracks and turned once more to look at her. His face was most patient, but she noticed his hand was drawn into a fist. He was anxious, probably more so than Rin herself. If she hesitated again, she might lose him.
"Won't you come in, please?" she whispered, cursing her inability to sound sure of her decision by the meekness of her tone.
He nodded once, then bent forward to remove his shoes.
Rin swelled with his touching gesture. Though it was her room, it was his house, and he did not even remove his shoes in his own doorway. He was above this archaic and human gesture, yet he was showing her the respect of performing it for her. It was his house, but it was her room. He would enter her space with respect. The boots were placed just outside the doorway, and the door was pulled shut.
"Will you not sit?" Rin stammered, gesturing towards the bed.
She did not pay much attention to his movement. Her mind was still dazed from trying to absorb everything that had just happened. She was grappling to understand what it all could mean. Rin clutched her hand to her chest and struggled to control her breathing once more. She must appear so silly before him, panting as she was. With a jolt, she straightened her stature and ripped her hand away to her side. Her gaze was solid, but her eyes were fearful and uncertain. He sat on the bed and blinked. Again, he was waiting for her to determine the action taken; he was waiting for her move.
Her feet carried her to the bed, where she sat down beside him.
She said nothing at first. Instead she merely smoothed the wrinkles from the lap of her robe, and straightened her posture in an effort to appear tall next to him. Even sitting, he managed to tower over her. Shaking, Rin reached out a timid hand to place it atop his own, before she looked to his face. He looked back, waiting for her.
"Will you…" she faltered, then swallowed. "Will you kiss me…again?"
He slowly nodded. Rin licked her lips. She watched his slow descent upon her with wide and eager eyes, longing for the moment when she could feel his skin make contact with hers once more. He stopped himself only a second before they would have kissed, and Rin gasped in disappointment. Sesshomaru quickly silenced her doubts once more with his mouth, but not before he genuinely smiled. Rin could feel the tug of the muscles in his face, and she couldn't help but smile back.
The first kiss had been exciting in and of itself, but Rin still managed to keep her grip on reality. The second kiss engulfed her completely, until her only sensation was of her, and Sesshomaru. Time stopped.
In a sweeping move, Sesshomaru scooped his arm underneath Rin and pulled her across his lap. She in turn grabbed hold to him with one hand gripping his shoulder and the other cradling his face. He was breathing harder, and his mouth and tongue were more demanding. It felt like her heart was breaking to pieces, then suddenly squeezing back together again. She knew he was growling because she could feel the vibrations from within his chest, but she heard nothing. His voice was beyond the range of her human ears, and mournfully she wondered what it would sound like if she could detect it. But her thoughts quickly drifted to his hand crawling up to her neck, while his arm simultaneously pushed her legs behind him onto the bed. Now, only her torso was in his lap, and Sesshomaru was beginning a full attack on the girl's senses. If her lord knew how to do anything, he knew how to attack what was before him. He broke the kiss, only to gently scrape his fangs down her neck, and follow back up to her mouth with gentle kisses over her skin. When a soft moan of delight vibrated her inexperienced throat, he dragged her body into an upright position against his chest. Now, Rin was kneeling in the lap of her guardian turned lover, and she quickly decided to take advantage of the situation.
Her hands rushed greedily to comb down to the end of his silver hair; they would then return to his chest, and her blunt fingernails dragged down the front of his shirt. She pressed her mouth against his more surely, and…she was swiftly losing the ability to stop herself. Rin was too naive to know anything beyond what she was now learning from her first time kissing, but it did not mean she wasn't trying. Much to her dismay, she felt her partner begin to pull away from her touch. Rin whimpered loudly when Sesshomaru leaned back out of her immediate reach, and her hands darted forward to try and tug him towards her again. He calmly batted her away at first, but she stubbornly persisted, not understanding why his affections had suddenly turned so cold.
"No," he commanded gruffly, grabbing her wrists together in his one hand.
The poor girl was shaken to her core. What had she done wrong? Why was he stopping her? Was this all? Would he now leave her alone, in the dark? The tears pricked the corners of her eyes, and Rin screamed to herself to not let him see her cry.
Apparently, Sesshomaru was already attune to her distress, and slackened his grip. "Shhh," he breathed against her ear, "this is enough, my Rin. You are tired, and need to sleep."
Her heart both leapt and fell with that statement, for while he had verbally claimed her as "his," he was also dismissing her in the same breath. He gently scooted her from his lap, fighting against her squirming towards him in protest. Once she was fully on the mattress, he rose and stood before her. Rin knew better than to try and grab hold of him again; it would make her appear pathetic. Her hands stayed crossed over her wildly beating heart, and she used her eyes to recapture him instead. Please, she begged in her mind, I don't know what it is that I want, but I know I don't want you to leave!
The demon stretched his arm and brushed his claws through the stray wisps of hair circling her face. He breathed sharply out his nose, as if he was contemplating something that displeased him. But his eyes softened, and his towering posture relaxed.
"This Sesshomaru will stay," he said quietly.
During that moment, Rin's body and mind separated completely. Her body nodded, then moved to the other side of the bed to make room for her master. Her mind panicked, leaving her madly questioning her acceptance of this declaration and sobering from the depth of his actions. He was sleeping in her bed. The Lord of the house was sleeping in the bed of his…what was she? What did she mean to him? Did he even know what he meant to her? Why, he was her whole world! There was nothing beyond him in her heart. Even if he had never shown her an ounce of physical affection, she would have followed him to the ends of the earth, until the end of her days. Surely, he must be made aware of that, because it would help him to understand what this really meant to her. Then perhaps, if she meant little to him, he would think better of breaking her heart. When her mind came back, it found her body underneath the covers next to Sesshomaru, curled tightly against his chest and embraced by his arm.
"Sesshomaru-sama," she sobbed, "Rin…" She stopped herself. If she resorted to her informal and childish way of speaking, he would never take her seriously. She cleared her throat. "I love…"
"This Sesshomaru knows," he interrupted her smoothly. His chin rested on the top of her head. From her viewpoint, she watched him swallow deeply, and listened to him sigh.
"Oh," she answered dumbly.
He pulled her tighter against him, and dragged her up so she would be eyelevel with his face. "You have…this…," he stammered. His brows furrowed in frustration with himself, and he quickly shook his head and pulled himself up to once again speak into her ear.
"You are not acting in vain," he murmured, then placed a lingering kiss to her cheek.
Rin felt her face warm with another blush. "Oh," she sighed happily, closing her eyes. Her arms slid up his sides and hooked around his shoulders. Content in her understanding of her lover's sentiments, she nuzzled her cheek against his neck.
"Sleep," he ordered her once more.
Rin yawned. "Hai," she softly answered. Already she was struggling to stay awake. The warmth and security that his presence provided was worlds beyond the sound of his footsteps. The last thought she had before being pulled into a deep and peaceful sleep, was wondering how Jakken would react to seeing Sesshomaru's boots outside her door in the morning.