Disclaimer: I don't own them and I make no money. This story is complimented by and named for the song "Drown" by Three Days Grace. I don't own them or their song, either. It would be nice if I owned something, but I don't. Oh well.
Genre: Angst, Drama
Feedback: Without it, how will I know if you liked my story or not? Please don't flame me, especially if you don't read the story the whole way through. It's a waste of both our time. However, if you feel the need to say you hate my story, then do so. But if you have reasons/questions you would like specifically addressed, then leave an e-mail address where I can contact you to explain, if I can.
Note: This is not a happy fic. Don't read it expecting fluff. I took Sesshomaru's character straight from his roots and didn't allow him to grow past what Takahashi has given us. Still, the story has merit and there is a kind of happiness to be drawn from it, if you can find it.
Sesshomaru looked down at the teenaged girl sitting in front of the fire, laughing with Jaken. Recently, she had disturbed him, for the first time in the six years she had followed him. Her eyes met his for a moment and she blushed, tugging down the too-short kimono. There it was again—that scent. He had tried to ignore it, tried to ignore her, but it was beginning to really bother him. He was uncertain of how to proceed with this new development. The first step was certain—she could no longer be permitted to run around in that kimono. It wasn't proper at her age or height.
"Jaken," Sesshomaru called, walking away from the small camp. Jaken climbed to his feet and scurried after the taiyoukai. "Get Rin a new kimono. Something appropriate for her age."
"Is there any kind you prefer, my lord?" Jaken asked.
"She is common born, get her something that suits her. You may take Ah-un."
"Yes, Sesshomaru-sama," Jaken said, and then hurried back to the dragon. Sesshomaru resigned himself to the duty of protecting Rin while she slept and Jaken was away and returned to the fire.
"Sleep, Rin," he told her, sitting against a tree. She looked up at the moon and sighed.
"Yes, Sesshomaru-sama," she said, lying down. He listened to her breathing, but it didn't change and he knew she was awake. The moon climbed higher in the sky and she didn't move from her position, didn't fall asleep and didn't make a sound. But that disgusting scent grew stronger and he was now, unfortunately, downwind of her. Then he caught another scent—tears. Rin was crying. He closed his eyes and tried to sleep through it, but he couldn't. Finally, it grew too much to bear, having to sit there and scent her pain on the wind and he rose with the first rays of dawn and left her behind.
Rin sat up as soon as Sesshomaru left and buried her face in her hands, trying to stifle her sobs. Her body ached horribly, begging for something she didn't understand. It told her that Sesshomaru could give it to her, but she had tried to bring up the subject once and had seen his eyes cloud, seen the same look come into them as the first time she bled and asked what was wrong with her. She knew there would be no answers for this, either and had dropped it before it had really begun.
She reacted strangely to his presence now, though. When she saw him, her heart began to race and a tightness formed in her chest, stomach and eventually… lower. The tightness would grow into an ache and she felt like she was choking sometimes, just looking at him. The dreams had been the first thing she really had to explain what was happening to her. She would dream that Sesshomaru would look at her in a certain way, then he would lean in and kiss her. She would wake from these dreams in the most unbearable pain sometimes, wanting to beg him to help her end it.
One day faded into the next, she wore the gift Sesshomaru gave her, cherishing it with all her heart. He began avoiding her, leaving her behind as often as he had when they had searched for Naraku. He tried to forget that he had scented her desire for him. He tried to pretend things were, as they always had been. But he knew it was a lie. And this lie, he could not convince himself of.
'Did you expect her to always be a child?' he asked himself. 'As she ages and you grow no older, did you expect her to always see you as a father?' The answer was, of course, yes. He had deluded himself into believing she would be different from other women. It began to truly upset him, when she started brushing against him 'accidentally' and watching him with those new eyes of hers. The final insult came one night when he was sitting at the fire, warming himself against a chill in the air and she leaned into him. He looked down and her eyes closed.
He stood abruptly, letting her fall to the ground, then turned and stalked off. She had tried to kiss him. That was it; he couldn't take anymore. He stood with his back to the girl and his head dropped, his bangs falling to obscure his eyes. There was a pain forming in his chest as he came to a decision.
"Rin. Come." His words were cold and Rin didn't understand why he seemed so angry. She hadn't meant to lean in like that, but when he looked down, it was just like in her dream and she had hoped he would follow it with a kiss. When she hit the ground, she realized her mistake, but she hadn't known he was angry with her for it. She couldn't manage to say anything as she stood and followed him. She glanced back at Jaken for help, but he looked as confused as she felt.
"Sesshomaru-sama?" she whispered.
"This… desire you have for me is inappropriate, Rin." His words tore at something inside of her. The feeling that she couldn't get enough air was back. Sound began rushing into her ears and she was seized with horror and desperation as she realized what he was planning. She fell to her knees, her eyes and chest burning, then dropped all the way to the ground, into the deepest bow.
"Please, forgive me, Sesshomaru-sama. I do not know why I have these feelings."
"You are a woman," he answered. "And you see me as a man." She didn't dare look up. She was terrified and a tremor had started in her hands, so she pressed her forehead into them as hard as she could manage. She was consumed by the thought that she would do anything for him to not say what she feared he was going to. "This thing cannot be between a youkai and a human. It is an abomination."
"Yes, my lord. I… simply need time. I do not understand these desires, they are too new…"
"There is no time, Rin. I know that you have fallen in love with me." Sesshomaru touched her hair and she looked up, the tears she had been fighting pouring down her cheek. Her skin was crawling and she wanted to claw at it, to tear her mortal flesh off if it offended him. She tried to apologize, but her throat had closed, something thick growing inside. She feared it would burst out at any moment and she couldn't fight the gasping sob that was torn from her. She was drowning and he was killing her. She wanted to beg him to stop, but the words wouldn't come. "In the morning, we will begin looking for a village for you to settle down in."
"No," she gasped, but he stood and walked away from her. "No!" she screamed it this time, but he didn't turn around. She dug her fingers into the earth, feeling one nail break and tear away. The pain was insignificant compared to the one in her heart. She screamed into the night, but it cared even less than Sesshomaru. She beat at the forest floor until her hands were bloody and raw and her throat could not utter another sound and then she collapsed and fell into a fitful sleep.
Sesshomaru came for her in the morning, not showing any hint that he had listened to her entire fit the night before. There was no trace of the pain he held inside for this parting, but he could not allow her to stay. He cared for her too much. He couldn't love her as a woman; he could barely love her as he did. He didn't want to let her go. He wanted to keep her with him. He wanted to believe that she could forget that she loved him in that way and return to the child that she was. But it was unrealistic and unfair to her. She deserved a chance at a proper family and a real life.
He would never fall so low as to take a human mate. Even if he were to fall in love with a human, it was beneath him to acknowledge it. He was not weak; he could overcome anything.
Even his own heart.
So he dragged her to her feet, ignoring the dried blood on her hands and forced her to walk, being rougher with her than he perhaps should have. He didn't look at the broken, defeated look of her. He ignored Jaken's questions and so did she.
"What has become of you, Rin? Why are you so down? Your hands are injured! What has happened?" Jaken tried to clean her injuries, but she snatched her hands away from him and climbed onto Ah-un, where she held onto Ah's neck, crying her heart out onto his cold scales. Jaken started to ask Sesshomaru what had happened, but one look at his lord's face and the little youkai went silent.
It was night before Sesshomaru realized that he had heard nothing from either Rin or Jaken all day. He turned to tell them it was time to bed down, but they were both gone. Only Ah-un had faithfully followed him. He sent out a search for Jaken's youki, weak though it was, and found nothing. He tried to force himself not to care, to bid them 'good riddance' but he lost the fight with his heart for the first time.
He ran back the way he came, becoming light to move between the trees so fast he appeared invisible to anyone not looking for him. He found Jaken first, turning in his direction immediately. It was a sense of youki, then there was sound. He heard Jaken's frantic cries and he wished he could move faster. This was the first time in his life where he was simply not fast enough for himself. Before Jaken could draw another breath, he was standing beside him. His retainer gasped and pointed to the river.
Sesshomaru picked up Rin's scent, but it ended in the water. She was nowhere to be seen.
"Did she go into the water?" he asked, feeling stupid for such an obvious question.
"She said she was drowning already," Jaken whispered. Sesshomaru looked down. He had never heard the lesser youkai so quiet, or seen him so subdued.
"How long?" Sesshomaru asked.
"Long enough," Jaken answered. Sesshomaru wasn't satisfied with the answer. Jaken had still been screaming Rin's name only moments before he arrived. He yanked his armor off irritably and ran into the water, diving beneath once it was deep enough. He searched through the green haze, becoming desperate to find her. A flash of red, the color of her newest kimono, caught his eye and he pushed through the water with all his speed and strength.
He caught black silk in his hands—her hair—and began kicking for the surface, suddenly frantic for air. He pulled her head out of the water the second his lungs filled, the pain and burning receding, but she didn't gasp as he did. She remained limp against his side. He put her on his back and swam quickly back to shore, dropping her hard on the muddy bank.
He didn't know what to do. He could hear her heart thudding weakly against her chest, but she drew no breath. Jaken walked up to her, tears running from his huge, yellow eyes. He closed them and put his arm against his face, weeping loudly. Sesshomaru thought that perhaps she had inhaled water and he should get it out of her lungs. He rolled her onto her stomach and pushed on her back. Water seeped from her mouth and he repeated it, pushing until she started coughing. He stood up, watching as she threw up water onto the ground.
Rin felt so heavy, as though she had been filled with stones. Her lungs burned and ached and now her throat did as well as she pushed all the water from her lungs and stomach. She had thought she was drowning before; she had no idea how painful the real thing would be. As she had reached the bottom of the river, she thought she would grow sleepy, but instead, her lungs had started crying out for air. She had fought the urge to breathe, her head aching, her chest feeling as though it would burst until she had breathed in against her will. That was when the true hell started.
She had tried to swim back to the surface, desperate to make the pain stop. But everything had grown more difficult, it felt as though she were pushing against solid stone and she had finally, blissfully, lost consciousness. It had only taken a few minutes, but it had felt like an hour. Then she had awoken to air ripping its way back into her, mixing with the water in her lungs and throat, tickling, choking and making her cough until she threw up. She hadn't even realized how much water she had swallowed until it was running out of her mouth.
She looked up at Jaken, who was shouting words she could barely understand past the water in her ears and hatred rose in her. Why had he saved her? She had suffered and died for nothing! She was about to yell at him when she saw the shadow falling across them both. She turned to find Sesshomaru wearing nothing but his kimono and hakama and soaked to the skin. She looked back at Jaken and saw he was dry.
Sesshomaru had saved her. Her head fell back to the ground, too heavy for her to hold up any longer.
"Why?" she whispered.
"I could ask you the same thing," he answered.
"I… I was such… such a burden… to you… I would… be no less… to… to any humans… who would take… take me in."
"Jaken, please leave us." Sesshomaru watched his conflicted servant leave them, albeit reluctantly. "You are not a burden, Rin," Sesshomaru said, kneeling by her. "I explained to you. It is an abomination for you to love me the way you do."
"Why?" she gasped. And he explained it to her. The truth about what happened when youkai and mortals gave into love. The truth about hanyo. The truth… about himself. The sun rose again while he still explained it to her. She had crawled to lay her head in his lap and he hadn't moved her. He gave her everything he could, knowing that her heart was breaking with every word. Knowing that she was smart enough to understand.
"I had hoped… this day would never come. I never wanted to… let you go, Rin," Sesshomaru confessed. "And you are not so dishonored as to need to die." Rin looked up at his face, started to see him looking back down at her. "I want you to live, Rin. I want you… to be happy."
"I understand," she whispered, the tears finally gone. There was an aching hole in her heart, where she knew she had lost the world, lost it all. She felt utterly alone, even as he held her. She knew that it was good-bye. Once they came to a village, she would never see him again. So she stayed where she was as the sun fell across them and memorized this last exchange. She memorized him and put the memory deep into her heart, knowing she would cherish it forever. She would never forget her Sesshomaru-sama and with his own words, she knew he would always remember her. And for him, 'always' would be a very, very long time.