Chapter Four: The Smile
"We're leaving, Jaken."
Jaken opened his eyes slowly.
"We're leaving. Now."
Dawn hadn't come yet. Something wasn't right. Jaken hurried to his feet. Sesshomaru was already a dozen meters off, heading eastward.
Jaken dared not ask Sesshomaru what was going on. He merely ran after him obediently, like the loyal servant that he was.
They walked for a long time. However, eventually Sesshomaru grew more and more impatient.
"Jaken, get on my back."
Jaken obeyed, and Sesshomaru started to run.
He didn't stop running for many days
It had been a year since Sesshomaru had abandoned her at the village. In that time, Rin had adjusted to a very new way of life. She earned a living by working in the fields. Oftentimes, she'd be planting crops and it would cross her mind that not long ago, she would have been more likely to steal them than to plant them.
Rin was lucky in that the villagers were nice to her. It seemed that Sesshomaru had done his research before choosing to leave her there. They took kindly to strangers, and it wasn't long before Rin had befriended a young farmer named Maruji.
They'd go for walks alone together, and Maruji always wanted to know about Rin's past. She'd tell him that she was an orphan, she spent her entire life wandering the country, and she never stayed in one place for long.
"But you'll stay here, right?" Maruji would always remark.
Rin wouldn't answer him.
"Sesshomaru will come back for me," she thought, "Sesshomaru will come and take me away from here, and we'll be together." She repeated it to herself everyday.
But as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months, Rin grew less and less confident in her mantra.
Finally, a day came when Rin realized that Sesshomaru would never come back for her. She had lost her family again. She would be alone in the world forever . . . unless she tried to make herself a new family . . . .
Over time, it became more and more apparent to Rin that Maruji was infatuated with her. And she herself had grown fond of him, although he didn't make her heart pound in her chest the way Sesshomaru had.
One day, as the sun was beginning to set, Maruji took Rin aside.
"Rin, I need to talk to you," he said.
"All right," she replied, and walked off with him.
"Beautiful Rin, I've known you now for a year. I must ask you something, and you must give me a real answer," Maruji began, "Promise me."
Rin hesitated for a moment. Then she said, "Yes, I promise."
"R-Rin," Maruji stuttered nervously, "Are you going to stay here in the village for good?"
Rin's mouth went dry as she tried to force an answer from her tongue.
Sesshomaru and Jaken had been traveling eastward for many days.
Jaken soon recognized that the forest they were in was the one outside the village where Rin resided. His pulse raced.
"Could Lord Sesshomaru be going back for Rin?" he thought.
The closer they got to the village, the faster Sesshomaru seemed to run. They soon reached the edge of the forest. Sesshomaru stopped.
"Jaken, wait here."
Sesshomaru left Jaken and made for the outskirts of the village. The sun was setting, so he didn't have to worry about anyone seeing him.
He sniffed the air and caught Rin's scent. She was nearby!
All of a sudden, Sesshomaru felt a pain in his side unlike anything he'd ever felt before. What was this new feeling engulfing his body . . .?
Sesshomaru, the great and powerful demon—son of the legendary Inu no Taisho himself—felt fear for the first time in his long life. He didn't like it.
All of a sudden all sorts of uncertainties had struck him down. What would he say to Rin? How would she react to seeing him after all this time? And could he really go through with what he'd set out to do?
But all thought left him when his sharp ears picked up the sound of Rin's voice.
"All right," he heard her say, and Sesshomaru saw her step into view. She was walking with a handsome young man.
Sesshomaru hid and watched them, listening to their conversation out of view.
Rin wasn't sure how to answer Maruji's question. Would she stay in the village for good? After pondering for a moment, she thought to herself, "Of course I will. Sesshomaru abandoned me. This is my home now."
Rin looked up at Maruji with resolve. "Yes, Maruji. I'm staying here for good."
Maruji's eyes lit up. "Oh Rin, you have no idea how happy that makes me. In that case . . . I have something else to ask you." Maruji took a deep breath, and then said, "Rin, will you be my wife?"
The question stunned Rin into ice. Before she knew it, she'd said yes, and she was kissing him blindly, unaware of anything except the feel of his lips against hers until all of a sudden there was a flash of white and a thud, and when the world stopped spinning and she'd gained her bearings again, she realized that she was in the forest, carried by Sesshomaru.
Sesshomaru could hardly believe what he had just witnessed. There was Rin—his Rin—with another man, promising to be his wife, and kissing him.
It was more than Sesshomaru could stand. The blood boiled in his veins, his eyes turned red with rage, and before he knew it, before he had any awareness of his actions, his body, burning with jealousy, had leapt out of hiding, knocked the young man to the ground, and carried Rin off into the forest.
Now he put Rin down gently. She stared at him, mouth agape. Neither spoke for what seemed like eternity.
Finally, Rin uttered, "What are you doing here?"
"Rin, you're coming with me," Sesshomaru said simply. He turned and started to walk off, expecting to hear the sound of Rin's feet following him like it had always been.
Instead, he heard, "No."
Sesshomaru stopped in his tracks and slowly turned around.
"What did you say?" It was almost a whisper.
"I said I'm not going."
"What do you think you're doing, coming back here telling me to come with you like I'm some kind of property? You're the one who left me, Sesshomaru."
Sesshomaru flinched. Rin had never addressed him so familiarly before.
"Since when do you call me that?" he asked.
Rin paused and said cooly, "I'm independent now. You're my equal."
The words shocked him, but after a moment, Sesshomaru looked straight into her eyes and said softly, "That's what I want, Rin. Let me explain."
"Yes, I want you to explain," Rin said, her anger growing, "I want you to explain why you left me here. Do you really hate me that much?"
Sesshomaru was silent for a long time. He stood there, gazing into Rin's eyes. The only sound that could be heard was the wind rustling through the trees. When Sesshomaru finally spoke, there was an emotion in his voice that Rin had never heard before.
It was shame.
"I'd fallen in love with you, Rin," Sesshomaru's voice choked, but he continued, "I, Sesshomaru, who had spent my entire life abhorring my father for loving a mortal woman, had fallen in love with a human."
Sesshomaru took a breath, and then he went on. "Do you know how my father died, Rin?"
Rin seemed frozen with shock, but she managed to shake her head.
"He died protecting the human he loved. And when I realized how I felt about you, visions of my father's corpse began to plague me—constant reminders of my disgust at how he died . . . and how he lived. And now I loved a human, too. My self-loathing overpowered me, Rin."
Sesshomaru paused, perhaps for rest, Rin thought. She couldn't remember the last time Sesshomaru had talked so much.
"I was a fool," Sesshomaru continued plainly. "I thought that I couldn't be with you, that I couldn't allow myself to become like my father. But my life . . . is nothing without you.
"I came here," he went on, "To ask for your forgiveness and—" he broke off momentarily and looked at his feet, then whispered, "To ask you if you would stay with me. Forever."
Sesshomaru looked up. Rin was crying silently.
"Sesshomaru . . ."
Rin went to him, and he embraced her. They stayed together like that for a long time, Rin resting her head against his shoulder as he held her close. The sun had almost finished setting.
"I forgive you, Sesshomaru," Rin said quietly, and broke away from him gently.
"You have no idea how much I wanted this," Rin went on, "How much I dreamed of this, waiting for your return."
"Rin . . ." Sesshomaru said, his voice hopeful.
"But now. . . I can't be with you. You were right. I'm a human. You're a demon. I have my own life now."
She paused, and then added, "My own family," and looked back in the direction of the village where Maruji lay knocked unconscious. He was starting to come to, and was looking around worriedly for Rin.
"I have to go to him," Rin whispered. She turned away from Sesshomaru and started to walk away.
"Rin, are you happy?"
The question hung in the air like a wall between them.
Rin turned back to Sesshomaru, and smiled. The sun finished setting.
Then, Rin walked back toward the village and was lost in the embrace of Maruji's arms.
Sesshomaru did not follow.
Author's Note: Thank you for reading my first story! This idea came to me when I started thinking about what would happen to the characters when Rin grew up. Would Rin want to lead a normal human life, or would she want to stay with Sesshomaru? Would Sesshomaru make Rin leave him for her own good, or would he have some other, more selfish reason? Would Rin and Sesshomaru fall in love, and how would that affect their relationship? I thought about different scenarios, and this is what I came up with.
So, I hope you enjoyed the story. But since this is my first fan fiction, I would be really grateful for feedback and constructive criticism. What did you like, and what didn't you like? Were the situations and dialogue believable? Did anyone act out of character? Did each character exhibit their own voice? Was anything confusing? Were the symbolism and duality handled well? Was the story too long, too short, or just right? And what can I do to improve as a storyteller?