This is my first stab at Inuyasha fanfic. I was drawn to the portrayals of female characters as capable, intelligent and strong. This will be a Sango/Sesshomaru pairing. Rated M for future limes and lemons.

I invite criticism both positive and negative-- its the only way I'll get better. So please read and review.

In this fic I put Sango at about twenty-two years of age. Inuyasha and Miroku are both around twenty-four, and Kagome is nineteen. The taiyoukai Sesshomaru, although far older in numerical years, appears twenty-five or so.

Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Inuyasha. I make no money from my fanfic.

Sango stood at the edge of the forest spring examining the clothes she would soon stoop down to wash. Her black taijiya armor looked dirty and frayed-- it definitely needed attention. She figured the rips and tears could be easily mended later on, and hoped the dirt would all wash out in the stream.

Work as a demonslayer filled most of Sango's time these days; the local villages valued her highly developed skills and vigilance in rooting out problems. Overall the taijiya was happy to help people where she could, and so far had managed to eke out a reasonable if lean existence doing what she knew best.

A wry smile crept over her face as she thought about her old friends Miroku, Kagome, Inuyasha and the little kitsune Shippo. It had been some time since she'd travelled and fought beside her friends, back in the days when they'd done battle with and and eventually defeated the evil entity known as Naraku.

She recalled how all had moved on with their lives in different ways since then. The one she hadn't been able to give up was Kirara-- the little cat remained with her, her only companion. Sango had been tired of wandering, tired of hard cold ground for sleeping and so several months before had set up a household beside her (now empty) ancestral village, that of the demonslayers.

She bent down to let the cool clear water rush over her hands before dipping more clothes in to wash, sighing while rubbing smooth rocks against the surface of her stiff armor to release chunks of dirt and leaves and blood. Youkai were such messy creatures to deal with. Usually mean and loud, they seemed to be made up of an endless supply of stinking, slimy blood. Sometimes Sango wondered how she managed to stomach the job at all.

Delighted that Kagome and Inuyasha finally lived together as mates, she remembered the time in front of a campfire when the hanyou had proclaimed his intentions toward his closest confidante and friend in front of everyone. After Naraku's defeat the Shikon jewel had been purified and Kikiyo was laid to rest for good, as had been her dear brother Kohaku. It made her cry thinking of him.

'At least his soul is at peace now', she thought. 'He died knowing who he was and that he had no blame for anything.'

Fighting to push the sad memories away, Sango threw herself into the task at hand. While scrubbing and rinsing her things she recalled the last contact she'd had with Inuyasha and Kagome was soon after the news came that Kagome had become pregnant with their first child. Inuyasha had proclaimed loudly that it would be a boy for certain but Kagome had waved him off, shrugged and said all she wanted was a healthy baby.

That had been at least four months ago-- it was time she visited the pair soon, to check on the girl she'd once looked on as a little sister. The couple (and Shippo) now lived in Kaede's village where Kagome assisted the increasingly infirm old priestess with her healing work.

Sango's thoughts gradually meandered to the subject of Miroku. The pain still stung-- she had refused his proposal of marriage in the end. It wasn't that she hadn't cared for him-- they had been rather keen on one another during the days of the Shikon jewel business. The interest had most definitely been mutual: Sango sincerely had hoped that one day they would be able to work things out and finally live together as a married couple. However the amorous monk destroyed all hope of that when it was found he simply could not promise Sango an exclusive relationship. He had pleaded and pleaded with her, swearing repeatedly that she would remain first in his heart regardless of who he was with.

For a short time Sango considered giving in and consenting to the arrangement-- who else would want her after all? She wasn't a delicate flower, her hands and feet were rough and had calluses, she spoke her mind, she fought demons. What man could want such a woman as she? 'I'm not that attractive,' she thought.

Nearly ready to give Miroku her consent to the match, Sango made an about face the night she caught him sneaking away from their campsite to meet some female or other, or so she guessed. Following his trail to the woods her fears were painfully confirmed when she found him next to the river in the arms of a young farmgirl obviously enjoying an intense moment of carnal affection. It had infuriated Sango and she told him the next day with several choice words that she would not, could not accept him as her husband.

Her favorite yukata was proving an easier object to deal with. The fabric soon came clean and she draped it and her freshly clean armor over her arm to take back to her cottage to dry. Sango was nearly twenty-three years old now, an age at which most women had been married for years and already had perhaps three or four children. She thought about this as she walked slowly along the grassy trail.

"Why would any man want to marry me?" she wondered. Sango's long, glossy dark brown hair was held back with a white cloth tie that left a tail fluttering behind her as she walked. She dressed simply, usually in a plain single or dual colored robe appropriate to the season. Her fair skin was smooth and dewy and her rather large, deep brown eyes were framed by long dark lashes. In top physical condition, Sango benefitted from the regular exercise obtained in battles with the bothersome demons that plagued the area. The work kept her healthy, supple and strong.

The taijiya did not think she was particularly beautiful, however. Not even when Kagome told her how much she envied her high cheekbones and glossy long hair, nor when Miroku called her the most beautiful maid he'd ever seen had she believed it, and had simply laughed them off.

'Who wants a woman who plays in demon guts for a living?' she concluded, rueful that it seemed a partner or a family would probably escape her destiny. The best she had been able to do was to snag the affections of a lecherous monk who had the nerve to ask her to live with his philandering. She shrugged. 'Living alone won't be so bad. It will give me time to sharpen my skills and develop new methods for eradicating youkai.' Sango felt useful and fulfilled in her work and was proud to have garnered the respect of several village leaders across the countryside. Lost in deep thought, she eventually crested the hill that led down to the little valley where her cottage stood.

A loud, desperate cry interrupted her ruminations. 'What is that?' She turned to listen for a direction.

"Mama! Mama!" It sounded like a little girl. She listened again. The wailing, lonely sobbing became even louder.

"Ohhhh! Ohh Papa!"

"What could that be, Kirara?" The little cat walking next to her gave a look that said she didn't know and followed her gaze into the trees. The young demon hunter was hesitant to simply rush back into the woods because sometimes youkai used tricks to lure their victims into traps, and at the moment there were no weapons of her trade close by with which to mount a defense.

"Why did you leave me! Mama!" cried the voice yet again.

'There aren't any children living near here that I know of...' Sango shrugged. The cries sounded genuine. Deciding to take her chances and investigate the situation she set off cautiously back into the forest. Maybe a child had become separated from her family while travelling between villages. It wasn't unheard of for little ones to become lost in the confusion of a struggle with bandits or some other catastrophe. Sango only hoped the child was uninjured whoever it was. A strange sight came into view as she approached the source of the cries. "Oh my," she exclaimed and stepped closer.

Curled up in a ball and leaning next to a large old tree lay a girl of about ten years, perhaps younger. She slept but thrashed about in the throes of what seemed a bad dream. Sango watched as the child trembled and called out in her sleep, apparently tormented by some traumatic event playing out in her unconscious. She noticed the girl wore a particularly rich and expensive looking kimono and that her hair was done in an odd way.

"What's the matter little one?" asked Sango softly as she knelt next to the girl, shaking her arm gently to wake her.

"Mama! Oh why did you go away!"

The little girl finally startled awake with a gasp but continued to cry and tremble. Sango looked around-- there weren't any traces of anyone else around, although she did sense the recent presence of a youkai, type unknown.

'Who would leave a little thing like this here alone?' she wondered while reaching out to comfort the child. The girl had a sweet face in spite of her distress, with shoulder length dark hair and dark eyes. She looked familiar but Sango couldn't immediately place her. "Little one, shh shh. Tell me what has happened. You became separated from your family?" Sango rubbed the girl's back but got no further response. Unsure what to do at first, she came to a decision and then spoke in her kindest voice: "How would you like to come home with me for a while? It is getting late now, but in the morning I will help you find your family. You must be hungry-- I will make you something good to eat. How does that sound?" The girl made no reply and grasped tightly to Sango's yukata. Finding her light in weight, the taijiya lifted and then carried the distraught child back to her cottage.

"Oh me! oh my! Oh by the gods-- How could this have happened? Lord Sesshomaru will surely have my head for this!" Jaken shuddered while thinking about what the powerful inuyoukai would do to him when he found out.

"Where could she be? That little rapscallion! Oh why must I be burdened with such a troublesome, disobedient child?" The yellow-eyed youkai wrung his little hands together while anxiously searching the landscape-- Rin's scent was nowhere that he could dectect. His charge had seemingly disappeared!

Jaken had been given the job of keeping an eye on Rin whenever Sesshomaru was otherwise occupied on his travels in the field. These often took them far from the inuyoukai castle where the girl had been living since her rescue by the healing sword Tensaiga. Jaken knew that she couldn't bear to be away from the imposing, almost universally feared demon for very long and usually Sesshomaru indulged her need for his presence, although not for sentimental reasons. The Tensaiga had bound the child to him, and her need for his personal presence was more than a childish emotional attachment. However there were occasions when the powerful youkai lord had business to attend that required leaving her behind, and in those times she was left in Jaken's care until he could return.

And now she was missing, much to the lesser demon's utter horror. He was in a near state of panic. Having turned his back for only a few minutes to indulge in some tasty berries that grew in the area and were ripe for only several days each year, he believed the little girl was playing nearby, probably picking the little white flowers she loved so much. But when he'd stood up to call for Rin she was nowhere to be found. By now he had been looking for the child for some time, and soon expected his lord to return from a conference with some local youkai under his protection. Knowing this filled the servant with dread.

"Where could that infernal child have got to?" He wrung his hands again and turned in a complete circle when a scent suddenly came to him-- definitely human, possibly Rin's but he wasn't sure. As much as she aggravated him, Jaken actually didn't dislike his charge. 'She is a reasonably intelligent thing for a human, if only she could do as she is told!' he thought. Gathering up his tiny hakama, Jaken set off on the trail that subtly stimulated his sense of youkai smell.

"My, you are a hungry one aren't you?" Sango watched as the girl downed mouthful after mouthful of the grilled fish, vegetables and rice she had left over from her own meal earlier in the day. Still the mysterious creature had spoken not two words of explanation about who she was or how she came to be lost in the woods. It nagged at Sango. 'Who is this child? She looks so familiar...'

About to wipe her hands on the fabric of her beautiful kimono, her host intervened by producing a soft cloth for her to use instead. "Here my dear, you don't want to get your pretty clothes all dirty do you?"

"I don't care...I don't like these clothes-- they itch!"

"Finally she speaks!" Sango exclaimed, smiling as the girl fidgeted. Her overall emotional state had seemed to settle down after eating her fill and getting warm in front of the hearth. However the doll-like girl still wore a sad expression, and Sango now longed to make her feel better by helping to find her family. But it was dark, meaning any search would have to be put off until morning. Kirara jumped onto Sango's shoulder.

"Now, you must tell me who you are so we can get you back to your family as soon as possible."

"I...I don't have a family," replied the sad girl.

"No? No mama? No papa? You were crying for them before--" Sango immediately regretted speaking when she saw the effect the mention of the child's parents had on her. The girl slumped, her chin falling to her chest, and Sango could detect a fresh wave of tears on the way when her shoulders began to shake. "Oh dear-- I am sorry." She hugged her to her bosom, stroking her hair in an attempt to console the poor thing. Something horrible had clearly happened to this child. Sango could relate to her distress. Her entire village and kinfolk had been destroyed by the nefarious actions of Naraku, and she lived with the pain of her loss every day.

'But what could possibly have happened to this little one? She seems so sweet and undeserving of pain. What happened to remove the sense of security from this vulnerable, darling creature?' wondered the taijiya.

"You don't have to talk about it now if you don't want to. We can save it for the morning, after you've rested a while." Sango got up to prepare a sleeping mat for the girl in front of the hearth and then left her to rest.

After tidying up the cottage Sango turned in for bed herself. 'She is a big mystery, this girl,' she thought while laying in bed. 'I hope there will be answers tomorrow for her sake, and not just to satisfy my curiosity.'

"Oh no! Gods have mercy on me!"

Jaken could sense the shadow of a strong inuyoukai in the area. Lord Sesshomaru was coming! He was going to die. Everyone knew his master to be a swift and harsh demon, one who did not tolerate sloppiness from any servant carrying out his orders. The little youkai shook with terror as he considered the way he would surely be destroyed for being so stupid in losing the girl. Still he had not figured out where Rin had got to. And now here he was-- The regal outline of his lord and master shimmered into view, appearing as if from a mist above the ground.

"Jaken," spoke the robust yet melodious low voice.

"My lord." The lesser demon bowed deeply and got to his knees. Sesshomaru could detect extreme fear and distress in his servant. He took in the scene cooly, his bright gold colored eyes scanning about with a calm indifference. Rin was gone, he knew before even attempting to interrogate his cowering retainer.

Taller than the average inuyoukai, Sesshomaru was lean of build yet muscular beneath the fine white haori and hakama he wore with his father's battle armor and a rich, heavy silk sash of gold and blue that held his katana.

His features were perfect: straight and chiseled and fine, though his face usually lacked any readable expression. A neutral mask that rarely changed except in anger, it provided no key to his thoughts. A single gracefully raised eyebrow might be an adversary's sole warning of his displeasure, although a hapless foe usually did not understand the extent of his wrath until nearly dead. The youkai lord had an extraordinary mane of long, thick silver-white hair that fell like silk over his back, tendrils of which now fluttered in the wind as he came forward from the forest. He carried an abundant white fur draped over his right shoulder that provided warmth and a distinctive signature of his presence.

Sesshomaru had at his disposal various unusually strong means of coercion, and it was rare that any creature failed to bend to his will. He tolerated defiance from no one-- household staff, nobles, vassals, lesser youkai or humans; swift and harsh retribution was the lesson learned by many an unfortunate foe. He was known across the countryside as a cold, distant, and calculating lord who usually cared not what anyone thought of him as long as they obeyed. His strangely cold golden gaze now held the servant before him immobile with fear.

"What have you done, Jaken?"

"My lord, forgive me, I don't know what happened to Rin...she-- she is missing." The green-skinned demon shook, his knees quaking. He prayed his destruction would be quick and painless as possible.

"I see. Come. I will retrieve the child." Sesshomaru turned and set off in the direction of his ward's scent. He knew instantly her direction and would simply go get her. He could not sense any danger although Jaken did not know this.

'Will he have mercy on me? Could I possibly be spared today?' The toadlike servant crept warily behind.

"You are an insufferable fool you know," said Sesshomaru quietly. Suddenly Jaken felt a sharp burning sensation at the top of his head. He had been stung with a brief jolt of energy from his master's deadly claws, and squeaked in pain while rubbing the tender area with his hand. At least he hadn't been obliterated by his lord's powerful demon whip, or had his head sliced off with the horrible sword Toukijin. Yet.

"What are these?"

Sango awoke to find the girl going through her things, the tools of her demon slaying occupation and smiled at her natural curiosity. Once she had been the same way, fingering her father's heavy weapons any chance she got, dreaming of the day she too would wield them in defense of others.

Little hands trailed over the hard surface of Hiraikotsu, Sango's large weapon made from centipede demon bone that now hung on two strong pegs set into a wall. She touched her armor and then went to a table holding various cudgels, hatchets and chains-- all items the huntress employed from time to time when fighting demons. The little girl sensed great power coming from these items, and she wanted to know more about them.

"Those are my tools, young one. Do you like them?"

"Yes, they are interesting. What do you use them for?"

"Well, I help little girls and boys like you by hunting the monsters that haunt these woods..." She went on to describe as tactfully as possible the work of a demon slayer-- her goal was not to frighten the child any further. After a lecture that found the little girl rapt in attention, Sango decided to get the day started.

"Come now-- lets go wash before breakfast. Then you must tell me how you came to be lost, alright?" Sango spoke quietly and carefully. The girl, while apprehensive could tell Sango meant her no harm and nodded her head slowly. Sango smiled, took her hand and they set off for the stream.

After breakfast the three females (Kirara curled up in Sango's lap to take a nap) sat on the porch of the cottage and to her surprise Sango felt the girl slip her hand into her own and squeeze it tight, as if seeking comfort. She put an arm around tiny shoulders to offer reassurance and began a gentle interrogation.

"What is your name little one?"

"I am Rin. I was picking all the pretty flowers and Jaken was supposed to be watching me. But I got lost. I was so afraid-- it was like when mama and papa were taken away--"

'Rin?... Jaken?'

It suddenly hit Sango. This was the little girl who travelled with Inuyasha's icy half-brother, the demon lord Sesshomaru. It had been some years since she'd last seen the powerful youkai, back during the fight against Naraku. Now Sango vaguely remembered that a little girl usually followed him. 'She must have been this girl.' The taijiya also remembered that a toad-like servant usually accompanied Sesshomaru. This must be Jaken.

"Lord Sesshomaru protects me and takes care of me. He is a great lord, and everyone respects him. He is all I have now."

Sango's brow furrowed as she combed through her memory. Of all the demons she had ever encountered none had ever been remotely like Sesshomaru. It wasn't that he intimidated her-- well, not any more than any other powerful demon did. It was something else. She couldn't figure him out and frankly, it bothered her. Sure, he hated Inuyasha, seemingly only because he was a half-demon and had control over Tetsusaiga. Sango thought if he should be mad at anyone it was his own father who left the powerful sword to his hanyou brother instead of him.

'But what brothers don't fight from time to time?' She shrugged, knowing there must be other reasons for his animosity toward Inuyasha, but she wasn't about to deduce them at the moment.

Other things bothered her about Sesshomaru. If he hated humans as much as he claimed in his fights with Inuyasha, why did he travel with this little human girl? What was his relationship to her? Did she serve him? Was she some sort of amusement? Sango shook her head. Sesshomaru didn't strike her as the type of demon who regularly sought amusement. For what purpose did he tolerate her presence? She was with him constantly. Sango wanted to ask the girl about it but hesitated, worried that it might be too personal a subject to broach.

"Sesshomaru-sama had to see lord Matuko and said I couldn't come so I had to stay with Jaken. I showed him my cartwheels but he was ignoring me while stuffing his face, so I went to find something else to do. Then I got lost."

"How long have you been away from Sesshomaru?"

"I don't know. It seems like forever. I miss Sesshomaru-sama. Some say he is cruel but I don't believe them. Jaken will be in big trouble with him when he finds out!"

"You were crying for your mama and your papa before...are they not living dear?"

"N-no. They were killed by bandits. I miss my mama so, she was so kind. If it weren't for Sesshomaru-sama, I don't know!"

'Of course she misses her mother,' thought Sango. 'What kind of substitute for a mother's love could Sesshomaru possibly be?' The taijiya could tell that Rin harbored significant affection for her protector. 'But surely a cold demon lord cannot replace the security and love of a family.'

Sango felt her heart break for the girl. 'Why doesn't he place her with an appropriate human family so she will have a chance at a normal upbringing? Living among demons couldn't be good for her, a delicate human child.' She shook her head.

The pair continued to talk in low, soft tones. Sango tried to reassure Rin that all would end well and that they would find a way to get her back to her guardian. And then as if on cue a tall, splendidly dressed youkai approached them from the forest-- It was Sesshomaru. Kirara growled quietly and retreated behind her friend as the powerful demon walked forward at a regal, steady pace.

"Release her this instant human," he commanded calmly. Sango noted the imperiousness of his tone as well as the rich mellifluousness of his low voice.

"Sesshomaru-sama!" Rin ran to him, stopping short of tackling the elegantly composed figure of her protector. The girl knew he didn't like it when she attacked him in an emotional display, and now limited her show of relief to a grateful smile.

"Sesshomaru. Rin was quite afraid," Sango replied softly while standing.

In a harsh, shrill voice Jaken piped up, "That's Sesshomaru-sama to you, human wench!"

"I am here to take her, human woman." Sesshomaru reached out and lightly touched the little girl's hair. Sango thought he seemed to look past her while speaking.

Rin fidgeted and spoke agitatedly. "My lord, Sango knows how to use a giant weapon to kill oni! I saw it! Isn't that amazing? Look at her little house-- it's so much smaller than ours isn't it Sess-sama? Will I have to take a bath when I get home? Sango is so nice and so pretty-- don't you think so Sess-sama?"

A cool appraising stare moved up and down the taijiya's body, meticulously taking in each line and curve with apparent calm disdain. Sango's cheeks went red, the attention making her feel shy though not unpleasantly so. She couldn't quite understand her own reaction: taken aback but at the same time faintly excited by the attention. This was a taiyoukai and a fearsome one at that-- she wasn't supposed to react to him the way she would say Miroku or any other human male.

'Am I that lonely?' In fact Sango had always considered Sesshomaru attractive in spite of the cold and superior attitude he presented to the world, and in spite of his well known disdain for humans. Something about the combination of his mysterious reticence and powerful, compelling presence had always intrigued the taijiya, as had the way he differed so vastly from the typical youkai she fought and destroyed. Sesshomaru was not loud, not messy. On the contrary he possessed high intelligence and seemed to live according to ethical principles even if they were his own and even if they were harsh. On top of that his handsome looks had always been pleasing to her-- in fact at the moment Sango couldn't help wondering what he looked like without his silk haori and blushed slightly at the thought.

That Sesshomaru made no attempt to conceal the fact that she'd caught his interest made her stomach flutter, and she fought to maintain the guarded wary facade plastered to her face for dignity's sake. Berating herself she thought, 'I am supposed to despise demons. What is going on here? I can't be attracted to him... But, he's so beautiful... Gah! Stop it Sango!'

"Rin we must return home, " he said finally and his eyes returned to a spot seemingly just beyond the taijiya's shoulder. His expression remained unchanged-- emotionless, as if he'd just been watching the sky. 'Sango is her name. Yes, this is the exterminator who travelled with my half-wit brother Inuyasha,' recalled the youkai lord. 'What is Rin doing here?' "Explain yourself huntress," he demanded firmly but quietly. No one interfered in his affairs lightly. He would know what transpired to bring his ward to this lowly human's hut.

Sango swallowed and proceeded to describe how she had found Rin alone in the woods, taken her home, fed her, and meant to help her find a way home just before he appeared to take her himself.

"Satisfactory," he said quietly after she'd finished. "You did the correct thing human woman. Quite unusual for your species... Rin, Jaken, we must leave this place." He stepped away.


Wait? Sesshomaru waited for no one. He turned, vaguely curious. The demon fighter stood with her arm extended, an anxious expression on her face. 'I suppose she is somewhat lovely,' he thought. Sesshomaru could sense a strong respect for honor in the girl, a lack of deception in her character. He shrugged inwardly. 'I could perhaps employ her in my border patrols were she not a weak human.' Lifting his gaze, he spoke. "What do you want girl?"

"Lord Sesshomaru I was wondering..." Sango simply could not help herself. She had to speak up now or lose her chance forever. Rin had made a strong impression in the brief time they'd spent together and she wanted good things for the girl.

"Had you considered perhaps giving the child to a human family? I understand her parents were killed. It would seem she could benefit from such an arrangement."

Sesshomaru could not believe his hearing. This human was making suggestions regarding the disposition of his ward? He was the Lord of the Western Lands and answered to no one, certainly not a human female. Still his expression remained neutral and cool.

"It would seem human woman, that you have forgetten your place. You do not speak out of turn to me if you wish to remain living. I suggest you return to your cottage and feel fortunate that you were not punished." He spoke in an even, instructive tone. There was no menace in his words but his intention was clear.

"Stupid human wench! You mind your tongue to Lord Sesshomaru!" squeaked Jaken.

"Quiet!" snapped Sesshomaru. He had lost patience with his cowardly attendant. His idiotic badgering would add nothing to the situation. Jaken cowered behind Rin and sullenly resolved to keep quiet.

For her part, Sango felt fury growing inside. How dare this pompous youkai say such things to her? So what if he was an inuyoukai lord-- she didn't deserve to be dismissed like some disobedient child. 'I kill youkai for a living!' Had she not rescued Rin, brought her back to her own home and cared for her-- eased the child's fears? She had only been speaking out of a genuine concern for her welfare.

Sango gathered her voice and spoke carefully. "I-I am sorry if I have offended you, lord Sesshomaru. I was only speaking for the child. I meant no disrespect, but I believe she would be better off among her own kind." Folding her hands, she kept her eyes lowered. Sango was no fool and knew for her own safety to affect the proper attitude with the demon lord in spite of his rudeness. She did not back down however, and was determined to get her point across to him.

Sesshomaru let a few moments pass before responding. 'Odd creature,' he thought.

"Enough human, you are lucky that I am feeling merciful today." Without another word he turned and walked away.

In truth Sesshomaru was faintly intrigued although he showed no outward sign of it. 'The young human huntress has a bit of fortitude,' he concluded. Probably a strong and capable example of her species, the girl was unlike most other humans he had encountered including the males. Still, she was beneath his concern. He was Lord of the Western Lands, an unusually powerful inuyoukai of excellent breeding and bloodline. Humans were pitiful, weak creatures and far beneath his notice whatever their relative merits.

'Why my father ever stained the clan by producing offspring with one of them I'll never fathom,' he thought. And here was this girl telling him what to do with Rin. How could one of them know what was best for his ward? It was for him alone to decide Rin's fate.

He turned to give Sango one last appraising glance, as if to study her briefly. Her downcast eyes and sweet voice were oddly pleasing. He had once or twice observed her in action slaying demons with Inuyasha and noted her swiftness and determination in battle. She was definitely not the usual female human.

Finally deciding he'd given her enough consideration, Sesshomaru turned again and departed the scene with Rin and Jaken following dutifully behind him.

"Goodbye Sango!" called Rin, looking back and waving.

"Goodbye Rin!" Sango waved back with a smile.

"Sesshomaru-sama, can I come back to see Sango? She promised to teach me me how to make flower wreaths-- and how to fish and how to cook rice cakes! She is so kind and pretty, don't you think so, Sess-sama?"

Sesshomaru sighed. He tolerated Rin but sometimes wondered how he managed it.

"Hey, he didn't even thank me for keeping her, the grumpy demon." Sango shook her head and watched while the odd group disappeared into the distance. 'What a strange morning'. "I guess I shouldn't expect manners from a demon lord," she said aloud. "The gods know his brother is lacking in that department as well. Maybe it is a family trait," she said, thinking about the boisterous and rough-edged Inuyasha with a smile.

"Lets go Kirara." Sango took one last look and shook her head before turning to enter the cottage along with her kitten friend.