By Reiycheru.

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Disclaimer – I do not lay claim upon Inuyasha, or any related characters and indicia.

Brief warning to any concerned – This chapter contains mild Lime, or suggestive scenes.

Authors Note – This instalment was written while I listened to the song Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeah's. To anybody interested, this song also perfectly sets the mood for this chapter. I highly recommend you listen to it while you read.

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It was the Taiyoukai's voice that impelled Rin from the depths of unconsciousness, but whatever it was that he had said, she was unable to register.

She woke slowly, leaden and exhausted, the only fact she was lucidly aware of being that she had not been asleep for long enough by far. The fact that her whole body ached came very soon afterwards though, closely followed by the faint comprehension that she was being carried by the Inuyoukai Lord.

The dog demon spoke her name again, and then something else, but she still wasn't conscious enough to process it. Something about her wounds . . . Rin's eyebrows drew slightly together as her somnolent brain attempted to connect up the words – and the first thing that came to her was the village . . . and the fiery bloodbath.

It was truly the last thing the girl wanted to think about, and a small, unhappy noise made its way from her throat; Rin instinctively moved her head to tuck her nose into the warm crook of the Taiyoukai's neck, seeking comfort from the desolation of her last conscious moments.

She still felt sleepy and warm and soft; almost as though the very air was thick and cushiony, and the girl briefly wondered why she hadn't yet woken fully as the demon walked on, but the sound of water stirring somewhere close by interrupted. She would have wondered about this – but quite suddenly she was wide-awake and open-eyed.

And finding herself naked, and being carried into the steaming waters of a hot spring in the darkness of some unknown hour of the night, by an equally unclad Taiyoukai.

' . . . Ss - SESSHOMARU-SAMA!' Rin yelped loudly, feeling all the heat in her body surge to her flaming face.

She would have pulled away from him – but the unaffected demon merely walked them deeper into the steaming pool – and instead she sucked in air sharply through gritted teeth and clasped his shoulder in a white-knuckled grip as the hot water met with her open wounds.


Sesshomaru spoke evenly in a manner that Rin recalled well, and a random surge of images rose out of nowhere in her slightly dazed head – such as an incident years before in which the dog demon had had to rescue her from a clump of stinging nettles when she was but a little girl; or when the Taiyoukai had allowed her to sleep with him when she'd awoken during the tumult of a midnight thunderstorm; or the time her Lord had had to treat her after she'd hurt herself while training with her first sword . . .

'You may sleep when your wounds are tended.'

Coming back to herself with a start, Rin swallowed and blinked up at the Taiyoukai with wide eyes, closing her mouth before the somewhat insolent rejoinder "Sleep is not the issue, Sesshomaru-Sama" had the chance to escape.

Sesshomaru met her gaze directly, his expression unreadable and his golden eyes fathomless. The realization slowly dawned upon Rin that she could not discern whatever it was that was going on beneath that impassive mask of his, as she had once possessed an uncanny knack to do so – and that had been when she was just a little girl. The thought saddened her more than she would have imagined. She lowered her eyes, feeling the leaden, listless sense she'd first woken with sinking over her again, and gave a small, soundless nod. Maybe – just maybe – it could also have been a bow of apology, though . . . She wasn't sure, and it made her feel worse to think about it anyway.

Without further comment Sesshomaru walked them deeper into the hot spring and Rin squeezed her eyes shut with a small sound of discomfort as the water stirred and her wounds protested, only then realising the full extent of her injuries. With that realisation came the recollection; the sharp, trailing gashes down her back – courtesy of a young and unpleasantly eager Ookami who'd been in close pursuit of her, until she'd dropped to her hands and knees on a bare split-second's instinct, letting him stumble over her before stabbing him in the back with her old sword. The deep claw-marks on her shoulders, down her arms, below her neck, across her ribs, strewn over her hips and her lower abdomen and thighs – all from a breathless and truly frightening struggle with another who had underestimated her, that was until she'd managed to slit his throat with an arrowhead. The numerous flesh wounds and grazes where she'd had to dive to evade falling, burning timber. The bare, calloused, bloody soles of her feet.

Sesshomaru paused; going no deeper once the water level reached his chest and Rin to near her shoulders. The girl quietly assessed her position finding herself carried by the demon Lord with one arm around her lower back and one arm under the crooks of her knees as he sought out a suitable seat for her. Her hair underneath the water drifted lazily against her, and she distinctly felt the brush of longer, silken strands against her skin as well. Her right arm had looped around his neck on reflex for extra support, while her other still gripped his right shoulder tightly as she grimaced against the pain.

Locating a boulder beneath the surface, Sesshomaru set her on the worn stone, which still left her modestly submerged. Rin, still in her leaden, uncertain state, had been fixedly watching the dark water when she blinked sharply – suddenly conscious of a clawed hand smoothing it's way slowly down the length of her spine. Feeling that same hand, along with the addition of another, sliding back up along the line of her stiffened back and down again, Rin slowly came to realise Sesshomaru was wiping the debris from her wounds – but unfortunately that did not interrupt the hot blush that was beginning to seep across her face. She was suddenly acutely aware of the Taiyoukai's body; acutely aware of his proximity and touch; acutely aware of the way in which her legs were parted beneath the water, and the narrow hips the insides of her knees gently brushed.

The heat in Rin's face deepened as her lips parted gently.

. . . Nothing . . . had changed.

It had been three years now . . . . . and nothing had changed.

This feeling . . . had not gone away.

She silently cursed herself for being a complete fool.

Her face only flushed deeper however as she realised that it was very likely her feelings were by no means confidential. Sesshomaru was not an imperceptive creature. Not by any stretch of the imagination. The dog demon was not easily deceived; and nor were those preternatural senses of his.

Swallowing, Rin lifted her eyes to give the Taiyoukai a desperate, mortified, helpless look, before averting her face.

Sesshomaru appeared to be unaffected. His hands did not pause in their travels, only moved once more along her back before smoothing up and over her shoulder blades, clearing away the blood that had begun to dry and the grit and the ash mingled with it. Once he had finished tending her small, tense shoulders Sesshomaru calmly moved on to each of her arms in turn, holding her wrist in deft clawed fingers and rubbing the palm of his other hand down the length of her straightened limb, clearing away the dirt and the blood over her wounds that had begun to congeal. The girl grimaced throughout against the pain of the raw injuries and kept her flushed face averted, though she made no attempt to stop him.

He must have inspected her for injuries before she'd woken, for he knew where they were underneath the dark water without needing to check. Rin gritted her teeth against the raw sensation and the thought of the scent the part of her above water was surely giving off and the reaction the Youkai was unintentionally causing with his touch. It only worsened as Sesshomaru's hands travelled lower, pausing first to run the pads of his fingers over the bloody furrows over her clavicle, and then proceeding to skim his hands down the ragged wounds over her ribcage, her naval, her sides and her lower abdomen. It was just the same when the Taiyoukai traced his hands along her thighs, her raw and grazed knees and shins.

She was surprised then when Sesshomaru moved in the water and took his clawed hands away, slipping his left arm under her knees and his right around the small of her back. Out of all the injuries she'd sustained, the soles of her feet most definitely had to be the sorest and worst afflicted; yet he seemed to have overlooked these. Rin might have said something about it, but the dog demon lifted her from the boulder and she caught her breath in discomfort as the dark water stirred against her open wounds once more. Sesshomaru regarded her briefly, impassively, before turning and approaching the edge of the hot spring.

The girl quietly held on with an arm around his neck and her right hand on the Youkai's left shoulder, watching the steam drifting lazily around them as he carried her. She was still feeling extremely tentative in his presence – uncertain as to where she now stood with the Taiyoukai after over two years of separation – unsure whether or not she should say something about her feet . . . Quite unbidden, the thought that perhaps Sesshomaru had left her feet untreated, those injuries which would surely prove the most troublesome, as some kind of . . . punishment, flitted across her mind. The very thought gave Rin an unpleasant feeling in the pit of her stomach, and her expression clouded as she looked searchingly up at his face. His expression told her nothing.

The Youkai stopped near the edge of the steaming pool and Rin duly reached out to pull herself onto the bank. She stopped then, though, blinking as Sesshomaru shifted her deftly in his arms; holding her instead with a large clawed hand on either side of her narrow waist, which meant her hands automatically grasped for each of his bare shoulders.

'Anou . . . Sesshomaru-Sama?' Rin quavered uncertainly, but was broken off there with a small sound of surprise by the Youkai Lord's response – which was to wordlessly raise her up from the steaming water.

The air met her wet skin and chilled it instantly, raising goosebumps. Water streamed down her flesh and Rin tightened her grip on the Taiyoukai's shoulders, at the same time feeling a distinct sense of gratitude for the two thirds of her long jet hair that had been submerged, and as she was lifted, had clung to her flesh like black silk – and did a most satisfactory job of covering her bare chest.

She blinked widely down at the Demon Lord, who stared back at her, unblinking and silent. He held her as effortlessly as he had done countless times when she was but a small child; and Rin unconsciously tilted her head to one side as an unbidden wave of an old, familiar sensation suddenly hit her – that rare feeling she had known as a little girl after being all on her own for so long – of feeling safe, of feeling content; Sesshomaru-Sama was with her and she need not fear. Coupled with that however were adult eyes and an adult's mind – which took in the ageless features that had not changed since the day she had first found him in the forest outside her small village, and which took note of the timelessness and power of the being of whose life Fate for whatever reason had decreed should collide with hers.

She was blushing again. Rin gazed down, glassy-eyed, at the silent Inu Youkai with an unbidden, growing sensation of unhappiness, feeling a sense of unworthiness gathering steadily in the pit of her stomach. And with it came that old, familiar, roiling guilt that had haunted her for the last few years of her life – She had left him; She had abandoned him; she had gone away, just as she had feared he might do when she was a child and had just joined his ventures.

It was . . . just . . . the situation . . .

It had hurt so unbearably bad . . .

Sesshomaru was staring up at her almost pointedly, the intensity of his wolverine eyes causing her unhappy train of thought to slow, and then finally stop. Rin returned his gaze thoughtfully, her eyebrows slowly pinching together. The dog demon set her down on her posterior on the bank with her legs still hanging in the water, of which he was still submerged to his bare chest. Rin was glad for it; having the distinct feeling that if any more of him were showing, her heart might actually burst in her chest.

Still watching her, Sesshomaru silently backed up a little in the water, and Rin looked on questioningly as her loosely fisted hands drifted upward to hover in front of her heart, her damp skin feeling the chill of the night air. She blinked once or twice when she felt him carefully take hold of her left ankle and bring it up out of the water, transferring his tawny gaze from her face to her mangled sole. Rin thought she could detect displeasure in his expression as he surveyed the damage, and then she blinked yet again as his eyes lifted to meet hers.

'This will hurt somewhat,' he stated grimly.

Simultaneously feeling faint foreboding and faint gratitude for his forewarning of the inevitable, Rin swallowed and nodded. Sesshomaru considered her for a moment more, before giving his attention over to the task at hand.

The young woman sat still and gritted her teeth against the stinging pain as the Youkai proceeded to carefully remove each and every wooden sliver imbedded in her sole, the grit and sharp little stones that had managed to worm their way into her sensitive flesh, alternately using his claws or his teeth. It was an unpleasant experience to say the least, but Sesshomaru worked as quickly as was possible, and before too long he gently let her raw and bleeding foot drift back down into the hot water to soak, and brought her other foot up - setting to work on it after directing a brief look at Rin, who nodded with an ashen face. The pain had progressed past unpleasant as he continued his systematic work, but she did not make any complaint while she sat there with gritted teeth as she knew the Youkai was doing it for her own benefit. How the hell had it hurt less to mangle her soles than to de-mangle them?

. . . Well . . . she had had a lot to . . . distract her . . . at the time . . .

It was a relief when he finally let her foot drift back into the hot water. Rin closed her eyes and let out a world-weary sigh as she sat in silence for a minute, taking a much-needed breather from the situation at hand and the hail of mixed emotions whirling restlessly around inside her. Sesshomaru prompted her back into the present, as the dog demon lifted her left foot out of the water again. Rin opened her eyes to see him examining the base of her foot again, and then lifting his eyes to meet hers.

There was a pause, and then the Youkai touched his lips to the ball of her foot, never once dropping her gaze.

Rin's eyes slowly widened. A rush of invisible heat suddenly flared up around her skin, sending a wave of dusky pink expanding outward to colour her face. Her breathing went quiet, and her chest slowly expanded as something inside fluttered like a bird caged against its will. Not trusting herself in such a state in front of him, the girl struggled to compose herself – and it was then that her brain managed to process Sesshomaru's action.

Blinking, she nodded once, mutely.

The Taiyoukai turned his attention over to her foot once more, and carefully lapped at the broken skin. Belatedly, Rin realised – as her foot twitched slightly – that of course it was going to tickle . . . Biting the inside of her cheek, she concentrated on the telltale tingle gradually building in the sole of her foot.

Inuyoukai saliva had healing properties.

Sesshomaru was calm, forbearing even, as he continued his delicate ministrations and Rin struggled to compose herself, her toes curling against her will. She was suddenly, ridiculously, overwhelmed with the urge to laugh out loud. Sesshomaru was licking her feet. Sesshomaru-Sama was licking her feet. The Lord of the Western Lands was licking the little human girl's feet . . . Everything about it was a shameless paradox . . .

And Kami it tickled.

The back of her consciousness was reeling underneath the utter tangle of emotions she had undergone this night – but the urge to squirm and laugh stood at the fore. Curling in on herself, Rin bit her lip in an effort to keep her face straight. The pain was gone, she realised.

Sesshomaru let her healed foot drift back into the hot water, casting her a brief, calm look with his eyebrows raised as though in question. He started on her other foot before she could comment, though, and Rin watched him with a faint, slightly lopsided smile.

He didn't have to do this. He didn't have to do this, but he was; and Rin even had the faintest impression that he was doing this on purpose in order to calm her down . . .

Maybe . . . Maybe he was.

It was kind of working, too . . .

The tingling finally reached that same familiar intensity, and Sesshomaru released her foot, letting it sink back into the water.

After a moment, Rin shifted in her place, and carefully reached forward with one hand, lifting that same foot out to examine. The skin on the sole of her foot was unblemished – only rather pink, but even that colouring was fading as she watched. She looked up to find Sesshomaru watching her in silence, his molten eyes and snowy hair a stark contrast against the darkness of the night around them.

She gave him a tiny, tentative smile.

' . . . Th . . . Thank you . . . Sesshomaru-Sama.'

The Taiyoukai blinked once in response, slowly, almost sleepily.

After a moment, his wolverine eyes drifted shut again, and the girl watched as Sesshomaru sank languidly underneath the surface of the hot water.

Rin smiled slightly to herself, and decided that this might be a good time to get dressed. She turned and moved away from the water on all fours, pausing to grimace against the chill of the night air. Closing her eyes, she took in a deep, relaxing breath.

Kami knew she needed it . . .

Behind her, the water stirred. Rin glanced back briefly to see Sesshomaru emerging from the hot spring, his long white hair hanging heavily from his head.

Rin swallowed, and looked away.

She moved to get to her feet, but suddenly her wet hair was swept cleanly from her back over one shoulder and she stopped. Rin was blinking vacantly at the jet locks as they slowly dripped water onto the ground, when she felt something that caused her to freeze completely. Her mouth falling open, she slowly turned her head – to find Sesshomaru crouching behind her, a clawed hand on each of her hips. He then proceeded to calmly lean down; and dragged a wet, warm tongue up the length of her spine.

Her breath hitched, and Rin stiffened on the spot. Her eyes became unfocused as her mouth fell further open every inch the demon's tongue travelled. He brought his tongue away just before he reached her shoulder blades, and as the autumn air cooled the wet trail it had left behind, Rin snapped out of it. Unfortunately, a second later Sesshomaru was retracing his path along the angry wounds, damp tendrils of his hair trailing along her sides, his warm, slick chest brushing the small of her back, and she stiffened again, her eyes enormous. The injuries for some reason weren't hurting at all, but her flesh was tingling as they began to heal – as well as for another reason altogether. Rin flushed violently; her head dropped down between her arms, leaving her staring widely at the ground beneath her. Her brain didn't seem to be working properly, though there was one thought that did seem fully crystallised – It felt . . . good.

Rin's spine stiffened as Sesshomaru laved slowly along her flesh again. She struggled to think straight but the Taiyoukai was making it extremely difficult for her. He was licking her back. Her wounds. Healing them. Right. It had to be done. That was why he hadn't told her he was going to do it, and that was why he was doing it. For her benefit. Not for the smouldering sensation crawling up her spine, and the way the contours of his chest brushed softly over her back.

Rin clenched her teeth as her fingers almost dug into the earth beneath her splayed palms. If it had to be done it had to be done, very well, but couldn't he go just a little bit faster? Did it have to be like this? Did it have to be so agonisingly, so deliciously slow? Slick strands of ghost-white hair slid along her skin as Sesshomaru lifted his head once again. Rin's face only flushed deeper a moment later though as his mouth returned to her lower back, his breath ghosting hot over her skin, the feel of both soft and firm parted lips only adding to the already heightened awareness creeping through her flesh. The girl screwed her eyes shut as clawed hands shifted gently on her hips. That scent . . . it had to be seeping from her every pore now . . . She was almost trembling.

He was nearing her shoulder blades. Just as the Youkai began to lift his head, Rin craned her own around to flash him a wide-eyed look filled with mingled apology, desperation, and reproach. Sesshomaru met her gaze for that instant, his mouth still slightly ajar, before she turned away again, her face stained with rose.

Unfortunately, the only effect of this was the polar opposite of what she'd been aiming for. He didn't gruffly command her to be still, or reprimand her that it had to be done.

Instead, Sesshomaru's chosen act of relief was to secure his hold on her hips as he dipped his head dangerously close to the base of her spine to trail a wet, hot, achingly slow line upwards along her skin. Rin grit her teeth, clamping her eyes shut as she fought to contain an involuntary whimper. Why was he doing this? Why did he have to do this? He had to know how she felt right now, Rin knew he did. Most everything had its own scent, the Taiyoukai had told her that himself when she was younger, and this – this had to. She knew it did. Unfortunately, however, it was difficult for the girl to entertain any more coherent thoughts from then on – because it only got more excruciating, more exquisite, from there.

The dog demon lifted his head away once again, and Rin tensed helplessly, waiting for the next as his silken hair trailed her flesh. His left hand disappeared from her hip without warning, and then made itself known again gently brushing away stray strands of her wet hair from her shoulder blades; while his other hand, which had stayed on her right hip, decided to move – and slid under, coming to a stop on her lower abdomen, below her naval; as Sesshomaru laved languidly up her spine. Beneath the heat of his hand, her lowest, deepest muscles clinched, and Rin gasped.

How long this continued for the girl couldn't tell; all she had the capacity to do was screw her eyes shut and tense up and feel. The sound of her own breathing was shallow and uneven; she couldn't hear the Youkai's, but she could certainly feel it against her skin. His hair, too; slick, silken tendrils trailed softly along her bare sides as he calmly continued with his slow ministrations. And his skin; his skin was both smooth and soft, but his body was hard; taut where his chest brushed the small of her back, his flesh still slick from the spring's waters. The sheer heat of him was overwhelming . . .

Rin could feel everything; the weight of her dripping hair; the chill of the moonless night; the current of air against her damp flesh; the earth beneath her hands and knees; the slide of skin against skin; the trail of a hot, wet tongue; and then, the Youkai began to stretch forward. The pressure against Rin's back increased slowly, the hand on her pelvis shifted ever so slightly. Snowy hair brushed the curve of her bare side. A clawed hand splayed on the ground just below her own, and all she could do was stare, marvelling faintly at the size-difference as Sesshomaru lathed carefully along the angry gashes over her right shoulder.

The dog demon concentrated his attention there, repeating his soothing ministration several times as the furrows in her flesh began to heal; and for one long, indeterminable minute, Rin was held fast against him by a clawed hand splayed firmly across her abdomen, pinned and held immobile beneath her Lord Taiyoukai.

Something was telling her insistently to arch her spine and press back into him, but Rin was quite sure it was the same instinct wanting her to hold fast to him and never let go, so she ignored it . . . But he was so solid and real and so warm against her . . .

She surfaced from her haze as hot breath drifted against her neck. The tingling sensation was fading now that the wounds had healed; but it seemed Sesshomaru had lifted his head away only barely, remaining poised and silent behind her.

Rin hardly dared to breathe.

What was he . . .?

' . . . On your feet.'

The Taiyoukai's voice was as intoxicating as ever despite its low pitch; barely more than a breath against the shell of her ear.

He didn't give her much time to react however; Sesshomaru rose up to standing, and Rin found herself brought with him – a clawed hand holding her left hip and the upper part of her right arm, her damp jet mane being the only thing separating her from the towering Inuyoukai at her back.

Rin swallowed deeply, and chanced an uncertain step or two forward, surprised somewhere in the back of her mind that her legs could support her at all. She turned shakily to stare helplessly up at the Demon Lord, his close proximity and current state of complete undress wreaking havoc on any last vestiges of composure she might have retained after all that had transpired in the last few hours of that moonless autumn night. For a long, breathless minute Rin was held immobile by gleaming, amber eyes. The girl was reminded sharply of just how very tall the dog demon was; she barely made it past his chest where she stood naked and tremulous under his wolverine regard, the air rapidly cooling her damp skin – though she was rather preoccupied at that moment and only barely registered it.

Sharp, fathomless slit pupils dilated to catch what little light there existed under the inky, moonless sky; molten, tawny irises gleamed as the dog demon stepped toward her. Rin hastily backstepped without thought, wide-eyed. Sesshomaru only continued forward, silent, predatory grace bare and unconcealed, a current of cool air rippling the slick white mane behind him. Against the paleness of his skin his markings stood out starkly, the magenta streaks that framed his face and wrists, as well as the ones she'd never before laid eye upon – and even now that they were on display, the girl still hardly dared to; though she got a thorough impression of the claret stripes wound over each narrow hip and coiled around each powerful thigh and calf. Rin felt slightly dizzy – this was so much like the dreams that had plagued her for so long that she felt as though she were barely hanging onto reality. She seemed to be having some difficulty breathing . . .

Sesshomaru was still closing the short distance between them, she realised – and Rin backed up automatically again. A peculiar rush of air tousled the damp mass of jet hair against her back, her vision tilted – and Rin belatedly realised she had stumbled, and was falling back . . . Just as soon as she had recognised it though the Taiyoukai had intercepted her fall, catching her easily by the wrist and her waist. Before she could react he had drawn her against his bare chest, and then she was unable to react at all.

If she had found it hard to breathe before, she wasn't sure if she was breathing at all now. Some part of her was dimly aware that Sesshomaru was walking, steering her backwards as he did so, but what Rin was luridly, painfully aware of was the powerful form sharing its heat with her, the lean, sculpted torso her cheek was pressed against, the firm yet gentle hold on her wrist, the warm, deft fingers curled around the curve of her waist. A thin coat of moisture still covered his flesh from the spring; a sodden tendril of silvery hair trailed over his shoulder and clung to the planes of his chest, inches away from her nose. Her eyelashes flickered against his skin; for a moment, one, brief moment, she detected that fleeting, ever-elusive thing – the Taiyoukai's signature scent. That vital organ in her chest twisted with the familiarity and myriad other emotions that faint scent triggered, her mouth opened in shock – and Rin's parted lips brushed against his bare flesh.

The dog demon came to an abrupt halt.

She wasn't sure what happened, whether she pushed back from him in shock or Sesshomaru cast her down, but then his warmth and support were gone and, for the second time in as many minutes, she was falling. She winced in delayed reaction, screwing her eyes shut, dimly bracing herself for the oncoming ground.

Only impact was far softer than she had anticipated. Rin's eyes snapped open in confusion, only to find her vision obscured by a cloud of white. It was a moment before she processed that what she was seeing wasn't cloud – it was fur. It all came back in a heartbeat then – the girl's eyes widened slightly as she recognised the ever-familiar warmth and texture of Sesshomaru's tail. Which was currently touching her . . . rather intimately. Rin gulped, winding her fingers in the thick, silvery fur in an awed kind of daze. She could remember when she was younger and her Lord himself had explained to her that the pelt he carried was actually a part of him, which manifested itself whenever he took his more human-shaped form, though it was not actually attached to any part of his body. It had made perfect sense to the girl, why he always carried it with him, why she had never been able to imagine what kind of animal such a thing could have come from, why it had always seemed warm enough, even when he wasn't wearing it, as to have its own body-heat . . .

Another heat altogether prompted Rin out of her thoughts, one that was exceedingly familiar. Her eyes darted up, only to widen as they alighted on the Taiyoukai who was hovering directly above her, and was currently leaning closer. His expression was cool, his tawny eyes hooded. Sesshomaru seemed almost to be looking not at her, but through her . . . but then Rin realised her mistake; those amber eyes were focused on the gash across her cheekbone – she'd all but forgotten the cut until this moment, what with . . . recent . . . happenings.

Glowing eyes remained fixed on the cut below her left eye, and Rin's mouth was suddenly exceedingly dry. She fought down the automatic urge to swallow, and averted her eyes. The thought . . . it was utterly foolish; laughable. The girl mentally scoffed at the idea that he would so much as entertain the notion of licking her cheek; and tried not to hope too fervently that he would. She distinctly felt a dull burning sensation in her cheeks . . . In her mind, Rin swore fluently and helplessly. She must be like an open tome to him . . .

Silken and feather-light, something brushed her shoulder and Rin blinked sharply, looking down to see a lock of silvery hair that had parted company from it's fellows, looping over the Youkai's shoulder to settle against her skin. She looked up again on reflex, her eyes clashing with Sesshomaru's. He made no reaction, save for some very, very faint movement of his brows that she might have merely imagined, and couldn't interpret anyway. His nose was barely three inches away from her own. Rin did not dare move. A static silence elapsed, both brief and endless.

Eventually, she was released from the Taiyoukai's arresting regard when he blinked, once, slowly. Rin let out a slow, shaky breath, fully expecting him to withdraw; but apparently Sesshomaru had other plans. He did not move, though his eyes did, trailing unhurriedly over her face and features. A fleeting impression occurred to Rin that he might have been assessing her . . . though for what, she could not say. Golden eyes continued to move, slowly heading downward, and she curled her fingers in the thick fur beneath her uncertainly.

The girl had no prior warning, no time to react – a heartbeat later, the dog demon had dipped his silvery head and begun tending to the claw marks scarring her chest, lapping carefully at the angry furrows over her collarbones. Rin froze, her mouth slightly agape as the tingling sensation started to spread across her skin. The initial shock passed quickly enough, however, leaving her wide-eyed and tightening her fingers in the pelt cushioning her body in order to trap her hands where they were, as they suddenly seemed eager to stray, mainly over the solid heat draped against her, and to some extent through the snowy hair pooled on either side of her hips. The intensity of the longing was almost frightening; Rin helplessly screwed her eyes shut as a clawed hand came up to tip her chin gently to the side, giving the Taiyoukai clearer access to the scoured flesh across her clavicle. Hot breath ghosted against her skin and soft bangs brushed her jaw line all the while, smooth, firm flesh fleetingly glanced against the sensitive peaks of her breasts; Rin bit back a whimper and grit her teeth in sheer frustration. Her world was being reduced to sensations and fleeting glimpses; under her lashes, she glanced hooded amber eyes, and then felt the demon nose a damp tendril of sable hair aside to attend to the lesions on her bicep.

She had never been touched like this before. Who else's touch could feel both so intimate and tender at the same time? Though Rin was hardly about to convince herself that this was Sesshomaru's actual intention; she knew she was merely making ignorant inferences. It was her emotion's sway on her thoughts, but Rin couldn't help the way she felt about him. She had been feeling that way for so long now . . .

And Kami-Sama . . . she had missed him so . . .

The urge to coil her arms around the Youkai's dog demon's neck, burying her fingers in that luminous hair, jabbed her in the heart; Rin gulped down a groan of frustration and tightened her fingers in the warm pelt instead. As it was, she was having a difficult time restraining the other parts of her body, all of which seemed to be enjoying the demon's attentions very much. She squirmed quite helplessly beneath the Taiyoukai moving steadily down her body. Her knee slid against a powerful, striped thigh; Rin's hips were making slow, restless movements against the heat of Sesshomaru's midriff as he lowered his head to administer to the claw marks trailing across her ribcage.

The girl whimpered inaudibly, wanting to grasp his bare shoulders as tension knotted slowly inside her, but only clenching her fists in the thick fur and squirming feebly. Sesshomaru made no effort to still her desperate stirring; a clawed thumb lightly grazed over the joint of her hip as he tended to her broken skin and Rin drew a sharp breath in through her teeth. Sleek, silvery hair slid over against her left hip as hot breath drifted against the gentle concave of her naval and she raked her lower lip with her teeth as her pelvis moved in a reflexive, deep roll, the long fur underneath her sliding against her shoulder blades. It felt as though slow, simmering heat was thrumming steadily underneath her skin, making her feel both languid and increasingly restless at the same time. It was almost a relief when the Youkai moved away; if he had continued any further down that path . . .

Rin swallowed the lump in her throat and released a long, deep breath, sagging slightly against the warm pelt. She jerked slightly when she felt a clawed hand slip under her right ankle and lift; opening her eyes, she lifted her head to see the Taiyoukai crouched at her feet, lowering her head to attend to the scars and grazes criss-crossing her leg. The girl wearily let her head fall back into the fur, attempting to steady her breathing and juddering heartbeat – but it was difficult when there was a dog demon lapping carefully at a previously unknown, extremely sensitive spot located on the underside of her knee. She shivered, only to a certain extent because of the chill of the moonless fall eve against her skin. Struggling to compose herself, Rin concentrated her focus to controlling her somewhat ragged breath. It was only when a warm, wet tongue was dragged over a shallow cut on her left thigh the she became aware that her feet had been nudged aside, and her Demon Lord was currently crouched between her parted, upraised knees; her head jerked up to confirm the mental image.

The picture was completed when wide brown eyes landed on the Taiyoukai positioned between her legs tracing a long, slow line with his tongue that veered dangerously close to her inner thigh. Rin tensed, her fists tightening in the pale fur as that throbbing, rippling sensation squeezed the lowest, deepest muscles of her abdomen, releasing slowly and leaving her body a touch weaker than it had felt only seconds before, and slightly dizzy. She blinked slowly, deepening her breath in an effort to steady herself. Sesshomaru was watching her, the gold of his irises partially veiled by dark lashes, his lips parted ever so slightly in a look that made her heartbeat wobble a bit in her chest. His facial markings seemed exceptionally sharp and vivid against his skin and snowy hair. That look was almost like a physical force holding her, and Rin could do naught but remain stationary under his unwavering regard, completely unable to break the eye contact. Though, she was dimly aware that only half of her wanted to.

In the end, it was Sesshomaru who broke the spell; he blinked, once, languidly, effectively cutting the connection, but gave her no opportunity to recover – he was moving - - forward. Rin felt her mouth fall ajar, but was distinctly more aware of the increasing distance between her knees. Her thighs were being parted further to accommodate the Taiyoukai between them; Sesshomaru settled on his hip, resting a striped forearm against either of her sides; clawed hands encircled her waist loosely.

When the dog demon's tongue first met with the crimson marks about three inches below her belly button, it smarted quite sharply; ten seconds later, however, as the broken skin healed, Rin was feeling something else entirely.

Heat; under her skin, colouring her face. The warmth of the Taiyoukai's body was intense, his breath and tongue were even hotter again. Her fingers sank deeper into the thick pelt beneath her, one hand fisted in the fur beside her head, the other hand fitfully clenched the fur near her right hip, centimetres from the warm flesh of a striped forearm. Rin was certain that the painfully jumping heart in her chest was close to failing her. The lack of control she was experiencing over her body was unnerving; she was barely restraining herself. The continuous soft, slick strokes and heated breath were eliciting a jerking, barely controlled, rhythmic movement from her pelvis, where those internal muscles were still fluttering and clenching within. She could not hold still . . .

There was a sensitive spot she didn't even know was there, about two or three inches in from the joint of her hip; Sesshomaru dragged his hot, wet tongue languidly over the area and those strange, sensitive muscles flickered pleasurably, enough so that she had to draw in a sharp breath that hissed between her clenched teeth. Rin rolled her head slightly, needing something; her right thigh stirred restlessly, sliding against the smooth, contoured heat of the demon's bare side. Both legs stirred then; for a moment, she was close to twining her legs about his waist in pleading frustration. Rin rolled her head again and groaned silently as her hips flexed against the Taiyoukai's heat. She had never felt so helpless or humiliated in her life.

She wasn't a fool, she could put two and two together; Rin knew full well what was happening to her. Without a doubt Sesshomaru knew. How he could endure this pathetic display was beyond her. The girl both cursed and blessed the demon Lord for his patience.

And just as she felt she might start to cry or beg or both, he stopped.

It was a few seconds before Rin registered this, and then another few before she was able to still her squirming body and her laboured breathing. Wide brown eyes inched open to stare blankly at the obsidian mantle of the moonless sky spread above her, heavy cloud cover screening all but a few faintly glimmering stars. Dimly realizing her view of the night sky was fringed by softly whispering canopy the girl finally became aware of the aged trees bordering the springs standing silent sentinel over the scene and belying their deep forest location.

All this, however, was only vaguely noticed, for the main concentration of Rin's awareness remained with Inu Youkai Lord who was still very much present and radiating a steady, constant heat that made sure she remembered this; his lean, naked form settled quite comfortably between her thighs as though entangled in an intimate embrace with her . . . though she was quite painfully aware that this was not the case.

Blinking twice to clear her vacillating eyes, Rin pinched her lower between her teeth in trepidation, and swallowed before somewhat hesitantly lowering her eyes to the demon reclining between her legs. Sharp, bright eyes were the first things she saw, gleaming liquid gold at her and almost seeming to generate a light of their own in the darkness. Sesshomaru made no comment when their gazes met, and after a brief minute the young woman looked away again, unable to hold the Taiyoukai's piercing regard.



Rin very nearly started, stiffening in her place and pulling in a short, sharp breath through her nose as her eyes widened to almost impossible proportions. The dog demon was moving; forward, to be precise, slowly, and with intent, resting his weight upon his forearms as he went. The girl could not possibly have been more aware of the Youkai's movement, every minute tense and release of every taut muscle against her body, every inch of smooth skin, every silken strand of silvery hair as it slid over her flesh.

Sesshomaru came to a stop only when he was directly above her and she had no way of avoiding eye contact, when this was clearly what her Lord was aiming for. The demon's pale countenance was neither stern nor reproving; wolverine eyes were distinctly heavily lidded. Still he spoke nothing and Rin could not summon a word of her own into play. The Taiyoukai's presence, proximity and warmth coupled together were a completely overwhelming combination and her mind was a whirl of silent and meaningless thoughts that she did not have the capability to engage in any case.

Large brown eyes were solemn and more than a little lost as a small hand lifted falteringly to touch the magenta markings arcing over the left side of the Youkai's face. Molten eyes flickered in reaction; Rin watched in mute fascination as his slit-pupils dilated; the demon regarded her silently through dark lashes.

When smooth claws brushed her cheek the girl blinked in surprise but was unable to make any further response as they glided down and under, holding her chin to tilt her face to the side; Sesshomaru lowered his head. Her eyes flickered closed in reaction to soft breath against her skin. Three light, careful strokes of his tongue healed the shallow laceration below her eye; Rin's breath lodged in her chest; it was a minute before she had the capacity to even blush. She was unaware that her arms had coiled loosely about the Taiyoukai's neck as he tended her wound; unaware that her thighs hugged his hips. Not a single thought existed in her head, even though the demon was all but coiling his body about her own.

'Sleep, Rin,' were the words breathed quietly against her ear and suddenly the girl realized her limbs were as heavy as stone. Her eyelids felt as though weighed down by invisible lead weights. She blinked slowly, her otherwise insentient mind processing the single word "sleep"; slender fingers curled in tendrils of luminous hair.

Rin surrendered to slumber enveloped in the heat of the Demon Lord.

- - - - - - - - - -

And so ends chapter two. My muse was being particularly difficult while I was working on this, and I spent a lot of time writing and re-writing – please forgive me if it's overly rambling. Now, please do not fret if you feel in the dark as to what is going on, all will be revealed in the next chapter, and you will soon understand what caused Rin to flee the Western Lands and her beloved Lord Sesshomaru soon. The explanation as to the fact that his Lordship has TWO arms is also forthcoming.

As to future chapters; yes, there is lemon and lime ahead. According to guidelines this content shall be judiciously edited; the un-cut X-rated version can be accessed at my account at under the Author name, I am Foxglove.

And for anybody who was wondering – Yes, this story will also be written in Sesshomaru's POV, but you will have to wait until chapter four. Inuyasha and the original cast may very well feature, this is almost a definite. There will also be Original Characters – PLEASE DO NOT LET THIS PUT YOU OFF – for they are central to the storyline.

Plot Bunnies are coalescing all over my desk . . . reviews might keep them from eating me . . .

Rin Hugs and Sesshomaru Kisses go the following for their comments and patience -

Inuyasha'swife15 – Thankies for the head's up bout the Dragon strike!

Icygirl2 – special hugs to you, hon – your comment was really encouraging.

Ja ne!