Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.
Chapter One: The Vision
It was ten years since Sesshomaru had used the Tenseiga to revive Rin. In that time, she had gone with Sesshomaru on all his travels, never ceasing to follow after him no matter what dangers lay ahead. And through it all, Sesshomaru was her vigilant protector, always keeping a watchful eye out for her and ensuring her every need.
Even though Sesshomaru was a man of few words, Rin knew from his actions that he cared for her.
After thieves had murdered her entire family in front of her own eyes when she was a young girl, Rin didn't know if she could ever feel safe again. She had hidden while the thieves savaged her family and ransacked her home. After she was orphaned, the other villagers treated her poorly. She was alone in the world, and no longer knew the comfort of a mother's kiss, or the safety of a father's hand.
Then she met Sesshomaru while he lay injured in the woods. She tried to rescue him, but he would reject her offerings of food.
One day, she brought him some food after the villagers had beaten her badly for stealing fish from the village pond.
That's when it happened. Sesshomaru asked her what happened to her face.
It was the first time anyone had shown any concern for her since her family died. And for the first time since their death, Rin smiled.
Sesshomaru had never made anyone smile before.
The next day, when Rin was attacked by a pack of wolf-demons, Sesshomaru revived her with Tenseiga, and she'd been living with him ever since.
She felt safe with Sesshomaru, and she loved him for it. She had tried to rescue him when she was a girl, but it was he who ended up rescuing her. She never forgot that, through all her long journeys with Sesshomaru.
Rin had been with Sesshomaru and his servant Jaken for so long that the three of them had fallen into a routine. They would spend most of the day traveling to wherever Sesshomaru was trying to go. Along they way, they'd stop to allow Rin to raid whatever village's fields they were passing by for food. Sometimes Rin was left under Jaken's care while Sesshomaru tended to whatever business he had in the area. But they almost always ended their days together, sitting next to a campfire under the stars.
They were a small but close makeshift family. Even Jaken, who considered Rin to be a nuisance, had grown to view her as his little sister over the years. Jaken never understood—or could even begin to fathom—why Sesshomaru had used the Tenseiga to revive Rin, but he had come to accept it as a fact of life, as he did all Sesshomaru's unexplained decisions.
Over the years, Rin had come to take on some responsibilities of her own. She considered it her duty to look out for Sesshomaru the way he looked out for her. Occasionally, he would come back bruised after a battle, and Rin would tend his wounds.
Tonight was one such instance. Jaken had already gotten the campfire ready while they waited for Sesshomaru's return, when Sesshomaru appeared suddenly out of the woods.
"Lord Sesshomaru! You're back!" Rin exclaimed.
"Lord Sesshomaru!" said Jaken.
Sesshomaru grunted wordlessly and sat down painfully by the fire.
"Why Lord Sesshomaru, you're hurt again!"
Even though they had stayed in the same area for the last several days, each night Sesshomaru returned from his unnamed business showing signs of battle. He would leave Jaken and Rin in the morning, and be gone all day. Then, when he'd return to them at night, he was always hurt. It was extremely odd for him to be injured this often in succession, for he was a very powerful and feared demon.
"Let me help you," Rin cried, and ran to his side.
Sesshomaru remained silent as Rin went to work, his eyes watching her diligently. Time passed, and he could hear Jaken snoring softly on the other side of the fire.
"There, all done," Rin remarked as she finished dressing his wound. Her hand lingered on the bandage tenderly. She looked up and caught Sesshomaru's gaze, then blushed faintly. They passed a moment in silence when all of a sudden Sesshomaru spoke in a low voice.
"Rin, are you happy?"
Rin stared dumbfounded at Sesshomaru. In all the years she had known him, he had never asked such a question.
The firelight flickered off Sesshomaru's eyes.
"Of course I'm happy, Lord Sesshomaru. I'm with you," Rin offered before venturing tentatively, "Why do you ask?"
Sesshomaru did not answer, but his eyes looked solemn.
"Go to sleep, Rin."
Sesshomaru said no more, and Rin lay down, troubled by the incident. She spent a long time gazing up at the stars before she finally fell asleep.
Sesshomaru, on the other hand, fell asleep instantly, but it was not a peaceful rest. His dreams were disturbed by visions of his father's corpse, the great Inu no Taisho, burning on a pyre.
It was the same nightmare he'd been having for months. The image was so disconcerting that Sesshomaru could remember the very first night he'd dreamt it.
He'd been traveling across new territory that day with Jaken and Rin. They came across a hilltop covered with the most magnificent wildflowers of all shapes and colors. Rin seemed particularly amused by their vibrant glory. That's when Sesshomaru spotted it—a lone white flower of surpassing beauty hidden among the cacophony of colors. Without thinking, he picked it immediately and handed it to Rin.
"It reminds me of you," he said nonchalantly.
Then Rin did something Sesshomaru was not prepared for. She smiled. And the sight of it went straight to Sesshomaru's heart. That night, Sesshomaru had the vision of his father's burning body for the first time.
And it was plaguing him again now. Except, something was different about his dream this time. His father's face was starting to morph, to change shape. It was subtle at first, and Sesshomaru didn't understand what was happening. Then, with a sudden realization, Sesshomaru recognized the new figure. His father's face had turned into his own! It was his own dead body engulfed in the blood red flames!
Sesshomaru woke up with a gasp, his body trembling with sweat. As he panted, trying to catch his breath, his mind raced.
"I can't put this off any longer," he thought. And he resolved anew to carry out what he had already made up his mind to do.
Sesshomaru did not sleep any more that night.