A/N: This is just a short story I wrote some time ago for the ever lovely Reiku Toukijin, who likes Sesshomaru/Shiori pairing because it's so the pretteh. And she's right, it is very pretteh, but this story is a touch bitter all the same.
She doesn't remember if she cried when her mother passed away, just like she doesn't remember what her father looked like. Sometimes she thinks it's easier that way. If she can't remember, she doesn't hurt, if she doesn't hurt, she doesn't feel. And if she doesn't feel, then it doesn't matter what he does to her and Shiori doesn't have to be angry about it.
When she'd first met him, she'd thought him beautiful. She came to find out later that everyone who meets him thinks that at first. She was hardly more than a child when her mother had passed away, hacking out her life with some mortal sickness, dying slowly and painfully before her daughter's young eyes. Alone, she'd buried her mother's corpse, knowing that there was no one in the village who would feel compassion for a woman who had dared to bear a youkai's seed.
Thirteen. Lovely and innocent, young breasts just starting to bud on her chest, Shiori doesn't know that she's becoming a woman. She's still all alone in the world. She's half a demon but that means nothing. She can't defend herself and so she hides in the forest. Shiori learns to live like a small animal, hiding, always hiding, is her only defense.
Then comes a girl, a sweet-faced girl, about her own age. Shiori watches from the shadows as she dances with wildflowers and laughs like she's never known any sorrow.
"Come on, Jaken-sama! I want to catch a butterfly!"
In Shiori's heart stirs something unfamiliar, a feeling she's never felt before. It is envy, because the one thing that Shiori can remember is what it felt like to not be afraid. She watches as the girl-child runs and laughs, carefree as the wind. She is happy and sweet and it sends a pang through Shiori's soul to see her.
I want to talk to her.
She can't, of course. Shiori knows that humans don't care for half-breeds like her. Her clothing is torn and ragged, her face and hands dirty. Even her bright silver hair, once lovingly brushed and cared for by her mother, has become rough and dull. She is also far too thin and her eyes are too big for her face. What would this beautiful girl think if she saw her?
Shiori cringes from her hiding place, realizing that she'd let her own distraction get the better of her. The pretty girl is leaning over the bushes now, her smile as warm and bright as sunshine. Shiori is the shadow, called to in the darkness and unworthy of the light. She can't speak, all she can do is stare up into those friendly brown eyes and wish that she were somebody else.
A slim hand pushes its way through the bushes, reaching for her. Shiori flinches when that hand touches her hair, brushing the matted strands away from her face for a moment before withdrawing. Her heart is in her throat as the girl is now in front of her and looking at her so curiously.
"My name is Rin," she says, her tone ever cheerful but now gentler than before. "I'm not going to hurt you, you don't have to be afraid."
Shiori thinks that she would believe anything that Rin told her. She licks her lips and remembers how to smile, even if it is timid, uncertain and fragile as a wish. "I am Shiori," she whispers and then drops her eyes to the ground.
A warm hand cups her cheek. "Are you all alone?" Rin asks, her voice kind. "I know what that's like, I used to be alone too. Do you want to be my friend? If we're friends, then we could be like sisters."
Sisters, Shiori thinks dreamily. It is too much, she's held back all this time, too frightened, to scared to let herself feel how lonely she was. It's been a year since her mother died and ever since that day, all she's allowed herself to do is just survive. Alone.
Rin is startled when the strange girl suddenly throws herself into her lap, arms winding tight about her waist and sobs like her heart is breaking. Somehow, she knew when she first saw her that this was another girl who'd been abandoned, cast out. Sympathy for Shiori moves her to stroke the matted hair and pat the frail shoulders. Rin knew what it was like to have no one and it was Shiori's fate that would have been hers if Sesshomaru-sama had not rescued her.
Perhaps sometimes compassion can be mistaken for something else, pity for a stronger emotion. Rin herself was not given to thinking about anything too deeply, so it was without thinking at all she embraced her new sister and whispered in her ear.
"Don't cry. You can belong to me now."
"Please, Sesshomaru-sama? I want to keep her."
Her guardian is expressionless, looking down at her with eyes the color of the sun that have never held any warmth. "A child is not a plaything, Rin. You should take the matter more seriously."
She pouts but can't manage to hold the expression, finding herself smiling at him after all. Her smile wins more than her frown, just as her easy obedience has always won more for her than any argument. "Yes, my lord," she says, her voice properly respectful.
Rin waits for Sesshomaru-sama to think about it. He knows that she gets restless, lonely and bored, when he leaves her alone with no one but Jaken. Jaken guards her and protects her as he is commanded, but she can sense his frustration with her. She knows its only a matter of time until Sesshomaru decides that she might be better off with humans and leaves her with them.
"She has no one else, my lord," Rin murmurs, peeking at him from behind lowered eyelashes. He does not respond, but the wind stirs the silk of his clothing, seemingly to answer her question.
As will he. Sesshomaru looks at the young girl his Rin has brought to him and considers that Rin has no idea of the girl's true nature. He'd almost missed it himself and that annoys him. She is indeed a pitiable creature, unwashed and ragged as a beggar. Perhaps her own kind turned her out for her human blood, perhaps her human relatives were disgusted by the demon heritage within her.
Neither circumstance stirred him to pity her or feel so much as a sliver of compassion. Although he had taken Rin under his protection, it didn't make him love humans. He still saw them are hardly more than beasts. And worse than beasts, in his opinion, were hanyou.
Reaching down swiftly like a hawk diving for prey, he seized the girl by her throat and lifted her into the air. Shiori struggled, but didn't cry out at all. Her tiny hands wrapped around his wrist and her feet kicked wildly, but she neither cried, nor shouted, nor screamed in terror. Well enough, he decided, watching as her huge violet eyes filled with pain and fear.
"You are a half-demon," he said, his voice as cold as beyond the grave. "You are not human, you are not demon. That means that you are nothing. If I allow you to accompany Rin, you must swear to me your absolute obedience. I will not tolerate less. Disobey me even once, half-breed, and you will die."
He dropped her then, ignoring Rin's soft gasp of shock at his cruel disposition of her friend. It has to be this way, he thought, not looking back as Rin made soft noises to comfort her now-crying hanyou.
"Don't worry, " he heard the girl murmur. "Sesshomaru-sama won't hurt you. You just have to promise to always do what he tells you. This way we can be together. Will you stay with me, Shiori?"
It was worth enduring anything for this, Shiori thought, her cheek pressed against Rin's breast. She understood very well indeed what Sesshomaru has meant. Her grandfather had thought the same way. Youkai despised half-breeds, seeing them as a weakness, a filtering of the bloodline.
She was content to be nothing, if it meant that she could belong to Rin.
A few years later and Rin has become Shiori's entire world.
She is no longer alone, that much is certain. Rin follows her Sesshomaru-sama, a demon whose manner is always calm and cold. Shiori follows Rin and lives for the moments when the youkai goes off on his unexplained business and leaves them to their own devices. They play, because Rin likes to play. They dance in meadows, holding hands and laughing as they make bridal crowns from wildflowers.
"Will you marry me, Shiori?" Rin asks teasingly as they lie together under endless skies on soft green beds. Everything is beautiful, everything is perfect. Shiori knows that Rin is only playing, but in her own heart she had never been more serious.
"Of course I will," she shyly answers, a blush staining her cheeks.
Rin only giggles and rolls away. "Silly," she says, her eyes twinkling with merry enjoyment. "We're both girls, we can't be married. I was just teasing."
Shiori is silent for long moments after that. She twists her fingers in the soft grass, the fragile stems breaking as she pulls them from the earth. "Then why did you ask?"
Shrugging, Rin props her cheek on her fist. "I don't know," she said, her feet kicking idly as cool breeze tickle her toes. "I just wondered what you'd say. Do you think that either of us will get married? Do you think we'll have children that will play together?"
"I don't know."
Rin yawns, becoming bored with the conversation. "I want to marry Sesshomaru-sama," she says, rolling over to embrace Shiori tightly. The hanyou girl lies quite still, hoping that Rin does fall asleep so she can linger in her arms. Her hand steals around Rin's back, fingers soft and hesitant as they press against the rounded flesh of a hip.
"I love you, Rin," Shiori murmurs, wishing that she could make Rin understand how much she meant those words. The dark haired girl doesn't know that she means so much more than loving as a friend, or even a sister. Shiori loves her with all of her heart.
Rin smiles at her, their noses only inches apart. "I love you too," she answers quite sincerely.
It's more than she can bear.
"Rin," she whispered, leaning in close for a kiss. Her lips are only inches away; Shiori's heart is pounding, her pulse racing as powerful sensations of want and desire flood her body. For a moment, Rin's expression flickers with surprise and then she closes her eyes and passively accepts the kiss.
"Um," Rin murmurs, gently pressing Shiori back as their lips part. "Shiori, I…I can't…I'm sorry. I can't."
Her face flushed dark with shame and Shiori sat up, folding her hands in her lap and hunching her shoulders. "I shouldn't have," she says, her tone dark with longing. "You don't have to be embarrassed, I should have know you couldn't feel the same for me."
Rin's gentle heart fills with compassion, but nothing more. She leans close to stroke the half-demon's hair, smiling. "I do love you, Shiori," she said, her fingers sliding over the shining silver strands. "But it's not so easy."
"It's because of him, isn't it?" Shiori says with bitterness, her eyes lifting to Rin's accusingly. "You're in love with him, but he doesn't feel the same. Rin, you know he doesn't really care about either of us!"
Her friend's eyes darken and her shoulders become stiff as her hand drops away from Shiori's hair. "You're wrong," Rin answers, not looking Shiori in the eye. "He does love me, he's just waiting until I'm older. I know that's the reason. Otherwise he would have already…"
Rin shakes her head, pulling away from Shiori and wrapping her arms around her knees as she sits in the soft grass. "My heart will always belong to him first," she whispers. "I don't care if he never touches me as a woman, I'll do anything to stay with him. I belong to him forever. I wouldn't have it any other way."
Stung, Shiori jumps to her feet and runs blindly into the forest. Tears are pouring down her face, tears of shame and bitter regret. If she only knew her precious Sesshomaru-sama, if she only knew what kind of creature he truly was. Sometimes she wants to scream it from the highest treetops; sometimes she wants to bury the secret in the sand. The youkai does not love Rin, not even as a parent or a guardian.
When she stops running, she realizes she's covered quite some distance and leans against the nearest tree. She's exhausted now, sweat matting her silver hair to her flushed cheeks, her violet eyes wide and rimmed with red from crying. Why does it have to be so unfair, she thinks bitterly. Why does Rin love him so much?
He doesn't deserve her, not one part of her!
"Foolish little hanyou," a soft voice sneered. "She rejected you again, didn't she?"
Shiori whirled around, her heart pounding this time with fear. She should have known that he might be watching. Half the time that he was gone, he was not far from them. He simply observed them from a distance, as if they were an amusement. She pressed her back to the nearest tree and glared at him with all the hatred she could muster.
"You were watching," she said, her voice full of contempt. His beautiful face didn't react, only his eyes seemed alive, glowing with an incandescent fire. She hates him, she hates everything about him. From his contempt, to his possessiveness, to his cold, detached desires. Rin deserves so much better, if only he would just let them go, let Rin's heart be free.
He smiled and moved closer, ignoring the fury in her gaze as he gently stroked her sweaty hair away from her cheek. Shiori twisted her face away, evading those cold fingers. It's symbolic; he already knows that she won't run away.
"Don't you understand it yet, half-breed?" he inquires, his cold fingers traveling lazing from her face to her throat. Shiori doesn't flinch when she feels the sharpness of his claws. She was born half-demon, but without much power of her own. It was a bitter realization to her, the day she understood fully that she would never be any match for him.
Sesshomaru leaned close, his lips brushing her ear. "Why would she want you? You are but a half-demon, you can't protect her; all you can do is follow her like a little pet. I allowed her to keep you because she wanted a companion. Are you no longer willing to accept that?"
"Rin is not like that," she breathes, closing her eyes. "She's better than that, she really cares about me. She really cares about you, not that you give a damn, you heartless…"
His lips crash into hers, those claws dig into her throat and pin her to the tree. Shiori fights him instinctively, although by now she knows that it won't make any difference. And he likes the token resistance, he likes the way she fights him although she can't win. He likes it because he doesn't want her to forget that he's the one in control.
Their lips part and Shiori is breathing hard as he slowly pulls her clothing open. It's shameful, and she doesn't love him, but he's taught her body to respond and want him against her will. She hates him the most for that, for awakening the demon side of her that doesn't care who he is, the side that is all instinct and fire. A low growl echoes in her throat when she feels his mouth upon her breasts.
"It's all right if you think of her," he says, his voice husky even as he lifts her body to meet his. She stares back at him, lost his golden gaze, the ravaging fire that is consuming her body. She knows it amuses him when she grabs his hair and pulls his mouth back to hers, kissing him back savagely, biting him with her little blunt teeth because they're all she has.
The first time he'd hurt her rather badly, not on purpose, but now her body understood what was expected of it and did not resist. He'd already told her what he'd do to her if she breathed a word of this to Rin. Just as he had told her what he'd do if she defied him in any way.
No, he wouldn't kill her. But she would never again see the girl she loved.
It doesn't take him very long, he's efficient as ever, and Shiori's fingers ache from holding him so hard. In the long, lost moments all she hears is his soft breathing in her ear, the way it becomes slightly more ragged before he shivers and almost crushes her against the tree. In contrast, she's often loud, making noises of desperation and guilt, finally crying out Rin's name as he smiles into her throat.
"You're more of a demon than you want to admit, little Shiori," he mutters. His fingers grip her chin and force her to look at him. "But you're too much of a coward to admit it."
It makes her vaguely ill, how right he is sometimes. It makes her ashamed that if she were stronger, she would be the one to kill him, just to take Rin for her own. In some ways, she and Sesshomaru are very similar. He does as he wishes because he can. She wonders if even a pure youkai feels ashamed. Then she reminds herself that in his eyes, the only shame is that he's lowered himself to use her hanyou body for pleasure.
"Rin is looking for you," he says, straightening her clothing. She looks up at him and is surprised by the almost gentle expression in his eyes. "You should go to her, she wants to apologize for hurting your feelings."
Almost, she believes that he might care about them both. In his own distant way, he sees nothing cruel or wrong about how he treats her. It's his right to do as he wants with her, if she doesn't agree; she is always free to leave.
But Rin won't leave; Rin wants to stay with Sesshomaru-sama forever. With that strange sword of his, it's even conceivable that she might. Unless he decides to send her away, it's even conceivable that he will do just that some day. Shiori smiles to herself, running long fingers through silver hair.
Someday…the demon might become bored with them both, abandon them both. And Rin would be devastated when she learned the truth, that whatever Sesshomaru felt for her as protector or guardian, it wasn't love. Not like what Shiori feels for her, not like real love. Not what a human heart can feel.
And Shiori is content to wait for that day, knowing it will come, believing it is destiny. Someday.