Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed. Sweat beaded his brow and upper lip distastefully, the saltiness a bitter taste to his lips as he licked them lightly to relieve the dryness, completely focused on his opponent. Why he had ever agreed to such a trivial and pointless battle of wits was beyond him. But the challenge had been issued, and he would not have it said that Sesshoumaru backed away from a challenge.

Besides, he had won many great battles against bigger and stronger foes than this one before him. This was nothing compared to those. How would it appear if he gave up and admitted defeat to one so small? Never, not even if his lowly half-brother (he cringed inwardly at having to admit that blood connection) were to kneel before him and acknowledge him the greatest of all youkai, would he suffer a defeat like this.

His eyes twitched a little, a bead of sweat slipping down the bridge of his nose, hanging perilously on the tip before sloughing off onto his robes. How vulgar. He refused to move though, no more than the twitching of his eyes. And still their eyes were locked together, one foe to another. Those rich brown orbs before him were shining with suppressed laughter. He was being laughed at? The insult of that spurred his resolve to win this, no matter the cost. He was Sesshoumaru, lord of lords, destroyer of those unworthy to stand in his presence! Another thin line of sweat tickled along his smooth jaw, and still he refused to wipe it away. His claws sunk into the wooden table top, a consession to the strain of this battle.

A slow smile came to his opponent's face. Brown eyes widened as if sensing victory near at hand. Ha! Sesshoumaru very nearly smiled himself at his opponent's arrogance. To even think it was possible to win against him. A battle of wits or a battle of strength, it mattered not to him. He would win, he always did. He froze very still as he felt a drop slide down his brow, catching on his eyebrow. He had to be very careful or...

The drop fell into his eye. Sesshoumaru blinked as a reflex to the invasion.

"Hahaha... I win!"

Damn it! Rubbing at his eye angrily, Sesshoumaru stood up without a word and left the small room. Damn her! That filthy little human child! The shame of defeat was overwhelming, almost as embarassing as having a half-human brother. How had he, Sesshoumaru, lost? Unheard of! Completely absurd! And to something as trivial as a... as a...

Staring contest.

He ignored the padding feet running after him lightly, the little cries for him to slow down. He would not slow down, not for anything. Such a humiliating loss. Not even the small consolation of it having been a private defeat with no witnesses was enough to make him slow his pace. He had lost to...

Rin's tiny hand closed over his as she matched his long angry steps at a run. "Wait, Sesshoumaru... I wanna tell you something!"

Sesshoumaru's eyes slid involuntarily down to the girl at his side, breathing hard as she continued to keep up and keep her hold on his hand. "Oh?" She had words for him? Nothing she could say would make this loss disappear!

"Yes... thank you!"

Stopping in his tracks, he turned the full weight of his gaze on the girl. "Thank you?" What could she POSSIBLY be thanking him for?

Beaming happily, she nodded once. "Thank you. For letting me win. That was very nice of you."

She thought... blushing a little, Sesshoumaru walked on, this time at a slower pace so her tiny legs could keep up without working so hard. And, a little later, he wrapped his claws gently around her hand. "You're welcome." Perhaps he didn't lose at all. He simply 'let' Rin win.