"Discretion," she said as she gracefully poured his tea, "is the mark of a civilized creature."

Sesshomaru's fingers drummed the lacquered tabletop, tired again of this conversation. Her shrewd eyes watched him over the rim of her teacup, the long sleeves of her kimono rustling as she moved. Everything about this woman was elegant, perfection personified, and as he knows better than most, a façade.

"I assume you have a point, most respected mother?" he inquired as he leaned forward to take her tea. But it's not one of those days where she'd hedge around the subject and make him chase her thoughts like a hound hunting for a hare. His mother is quite clever and subtle, but even her patience has been strained by what she liked to refer to as his obstinate nature.

Inherited from his father, of course.

"I want grandchildren," she said, her voice as cold as his manner. "I am quite tired of your refusal to even hear the offers I've arranged. That young daughter of the southern clan is very lovely and well mannered."

"And as empty headed as the inbred fools that spawned her," he said sourly.

Her lips quirked in amusement. "So picky," she murmured into her cup. "There are many men who would find such a passive girl to be the ideal wife."

"I am not such a man," he returned, quite serious. "Consider it to be another failing I inherited from my father."

"And he certainly had enough of those," she answered with a wicked gleam in her eye. "But my dear son, people do talk. The fact that you've put off such an alliance for so long might lead to other rumors. Such as that our bloodline has thinned and…"

Sesshomaru growled softly and set his cup down with a sharp clatter. "I have heard no such rumors," he hissed. "And should I hear of them, I will put an end to both the rumor and its origin."

His mother sighed and rested her chin on her hand, her expression deceptively mild. "No one dares to challenge you, Sesshomaru. But as I mentioned, people do talk. And right now the topic is how you've refused many an excellent match, but you continue to keep company with a human girl."

"Rin is a child," he snapped, annoyed at her assumption.

"Izayoi was younger than she when your brother was born," his mother answered with a teasing smile. "Kindly remember that humans mature much faster than youkai, dear son."

She had him there. The little girl had grown into a woman and as her maturing body held no interest for him, all that he could see was the child that she had been. He'd never intended on keeping her with him for so long, but the years slipped by quickly for youkai and Sesshomaru wasn't accustomed to thinking about such things.

"If you have no intentions towards her," his mother told him before she left in a swirl of silk and steel, "then you have to let her go. It would be cruel to let her continue to live only in your footsteps."

Intentions? Sesshomaru snarled softly to himself. As if he would lower himself to bedding a human, albeit a human that he had allowed himself to become accustomed to. Just because his father had no sense of discretion didn't mean that he was also so base as to take advantage of…

"Sesshomaru-sama!"

Her voice was high and sweet, her happiness at his return was something that she didn't bother to hide. Rin rushed to his side before bowing carefully. "Did you have a good visit, Sesshomaru-sama?"

He stopped, glancing down at her with an utterly neutral expression. "Visit?"

"Jaken-sama told me, my lord." Rin blushed a bit and then smiled. "I hope your mother is well?"

"She's daiyoukai," he said coldly. "What else would she be?"

As usual, the significance of his comment went right over her head. "Oh I'm glad to hear that, Sesshomaru-sama," she chirped. "I have often wished to meet her."

"She does not care for humans," he said. Then he paused, remembering what his mother had said. Rin was no longer a child, but woman grown and old enough to bear children of her own. He had been most negligent to let the years pass by without comment.

"Rin," he said quietly. "Would you like to know what I discussed with my respected mother?"

The girl looked startled, then eager. "Yes, my lord," she said, giving him a breathless smile. "I would be interested in anything you told me!"

It was quite true; Rin was vitally interested in everything he did. Assuming that he wanted her to dance attendance on him like some fickle human lord, she often followed him about asking if there was anything he needed from her. When he wouldn't answer, she'd sigh and look despondent until he thought of some menial or meaningless task to set her at.

It was well past time when he should have found a place for her, perhaps with a human family that might be better equipped to care for her needs. "We discussed the future," he told the girl. "Your future, specifically."

Rin stopped short, tilting her head up at him with anxiety in her gaze. "My future, Sesshomaru-sama?" she asked timidly. "Why would you discuss my future?"

"You are no longer a child," he said. She watched him with large eyes, clearly not understanding. He sighed, hoping that she wasn't going to make a scene over it. "You have become a woman and the time has come that I recognize this fact."

Her face clouded with confusion. "Recognize it how, my lord?"

"Do you not wish to marry someday, Rin? Do you not wish to bear children of your own?"

The girl smiled shyly, unable to meet his eyes. "Yes, my lord. I have thought of this for quite some time. I had only been waiting for you to say when."

"My mother wishes for me to marry as well," he said, his tone easier now. "She desires for our line to continue and I have been lax in my duty. In discussion of this, she pointed out to me that you are also of the age to bear young and…"

He was nearly knocked off his feet by her enthusiastic embrace when she flung herself at him without warning. "Yes, my lord," Rin cried happily. "Of course I will marry you!"

Sesshomaru struggled to pry the delighted human off his chest without injuring her. "I think you misunderstood," he said acidly. "I did not ask that you marry me."

He was aghast at the very idea, revolted in fact. Marry a human; spawn an inferior half-breed child like his younger brother? It was too horrifying for him to contemplate. But rather than hurt her feelings by stating the obvious, Sesshomaru ground his teeth and kept the words to himself.

Rin's face flushed scarlet and she took her hands away from him and hid them behind her back. "I apologize, Sesshomaru-sama," she said, tears that hadn't been shed in her voice. "I should not have assumed that you wanted to marry someone like me."

Indeed she should not. Sesshomaru nodded and looked down at the distraught girl. "Do not be offended," he said quietly. "There are those youkai, my own father for instance, that do find human women to be attractive. Their desires do not make for a suitable match."

"I know," she said bitterly, forgetting her place in addressing him familiarly. "You find me disgusting." She wiped at her tears with the back of her hand. "I understood that, I was just so happy for a moment, I forgot."

He felt a strange sensation, one that he wasn't often given to experiencing. It was a twinge at the back of his mind, a prickle like an unwelcome claw on his neck. Sesshomaru sighed quietly, his face expressionless. The feeling was guilt. Clearly, Rin had harbored feelings for him that had nothing to do with service or gratitude.

"I have every intention of finding you a suitable place," he said, hoping that she'd believe him. "It is not only for the sake of appearance. You have grown to be…attractive…for one of your kind and I cannot allow others to make idle gossip of my reputation."

Rin swallowed hard. "I understand," she said quietly. "Please don't trouble yourself, Sesshomaru-sama. I will leave as soon as possible if it's a problem. There's a human village not far from here, I've met a few of the people there and they seem kind. They won't treat me badly because I used to be your servant."

It wasn't that he was utterly without compassion for her, Tenseiga had revived the child and that made her his responsibility. "It was never my wish to cause you unhappiness."

But he had. He could see it in her eyes, the way her small shoulders were slumped. A moment of compassion from him so long ago had altered this girl's path. From that moment, Rin hadn't had a chance for a human life. He'd let her accompany him out of responsibility for what he had saved, never thinking that her human heart might become so attached.

"Wait, Rin," he said, as she turned to leave. "This difficulty is of my making, not yours. Therefore it is my problem to resolve. You do not have to leave if you do not wish to do so."

"I think it's best if I do," Rin said, trying to sound dignified, but the illusion spoiled by the way she was still sniffling back her tears. "It will be easier that way, if I'm not with you. I understand that you can't return my feelings, Sesshomaru-sama. I had only hoped…" Her eyes raised to his and the youkai saw hesitation. "I would have liked…"

"Yes?" he asked, somewhat baffled by her shy manner. "What is it? If there is a request that I might grant, you have only to ask."

"Sleep with me," she whispered.

Sesshomaru stepped back, an uncharacteristic look of surprise on his usually placid features. "What?"

Rin looked at him earnestly. "Sleep with me, Sesshomaru-sama," she said, her hands clasped together. "I had wanted…I had hoped you'd be my…my lover."

It was only by his vast self-control that he kept from cringing. Bed with a human, the shame of such an act would be intolerable. He had admitted to a past curiosity about what would have driven his father into the arms of a human wench, but he had no intention of finding out for himself. "I don't think that is wise."

"Please?" the girl said, begging him now. She dropped to her knees and fisted both hands in the fluffy pelt he wore. "I know you won't ever love me, I understand. But I've dreamed of it, my lord. Just as I've dreamed that you kept me at your side because you felt something for me as well."

Pity would be his downfall, he was certain of it. "Youkai and humans are not meant to breed," he said stiffly, wishing that she'd asked for anything else. "You don't know what you're saying. If you have romantic ideals of me, Rin, I'd suggest you forget them."

She shook her head, fairly holding him hostage with her wet gaze. "I know what I'm asking," she murmured. "But I want it just the same."

Yes, pity and compassion, twin swords of mockery. Sesshomaru scowled, cursing his father yet again as he knew the great dog general would be vastly amused to see his son wrestling with such base emotions.

"Very well," he said at last and made a slight gesture toward the floor. "Remove your clothing."

A few minutes later

It was possibly the most unpleasant sexual experience of his life. Sesshomaru lay perfectly still on the cold floor, absolutely disgusted with himself. Standards and breeding aside, he'd expected better of his own behavior. A loss of control like this would haunt him for days; long after the humiliation of the act itself had faded. He'd known it would be a mistake to give in to her request, but even he had not expected it to be quite this bad.

At least she had enjoyed it, he thought sourly, not quite ready to face her. The girl had moaned and shrieked and cried out with pleasure until it had become unbearable. Not the least of which was because her pleasure stemmed from the fact that she truly loved him. Even at the end, when she'd known her first time with him would be her last time with anyone.

Sesshomaru stood quietly and started to dress. The fewer people that knew about his lapse of judgment, the better for everyone, he decided. That the powerful Sesshomaru would allow himself to be seduced by a human…he wasn't looking forward to dealing with it if the truth came out.

He supposed he'd have to at least tell his mother the truth. Damn woman had a way of finding things out and he could almost taste her disapproval.

She'd probably use this incident as a way to force him into an alliance with one of her chosen brides. He sighed, flicking long fingers through his silvery hair. He turned and looked down at her, a vague hint of sadness in his chill heart, but it was fleeting and as easily extinguished as a candle.

Or a young girl's life…

But she had said as much by the end of it, that she'd die happily, knowing that he touched her just this once. And so he had, closing his eyes and feeling a sense of primal satisfaction all the same, and then he'd felt regret pooling warm beneath him and sadly let her go.

"My lord?" It was Jaken's voice and moments later, the door slid open to reveal his diminutive retainer. "My lord, I have been searching for Rin. She had promised to help with the…"

Whatever Rin had promised, he would never know. Still, he couldn't quite look Jaken in the eye as he swept past the astonished imp. What was done, was done, and no turning back. Tenseiga would not grant him any reprieve, he knew better than to try.

"Get the blood out of this, Jaken," he said, dropping his fluffy pelt into the silent retainer's arms. "And see to the mess. I do not wish to be disturbed for the rest of the day."

"Yes, Sesshomaru-sama."

Was that pity in the toad's eyes? He certainly hoped not.

He couldn't stand the thought of anyone pitying him.

A/N: I think a lot of people misread this story, thinking that Sesshomaru killed Rin on purpose. Look more closely, you'll see that he's ashamed, disgusted with himself, because he accidentally killed her during the sex. On one hand, you can say that Sesshomaru would be out of character if he did lose control and do something like that, but such a loss of control would affect Sesshomaru profoundly. It wasn't meant to say that he dislikes Rin or would take her death casually. In fact, he'd hate himself more for being the cause of it.

This story was written more to illustrate two things...that Sesshomaru is probably totally revolted by the idea of having sex with a human, but for Rin...since he DOES care for her...he made an exception. And it went badly. That's the second thing I wanted to illustrate...that unions between demons and humans do not work out. Look at Inuyasha's parents, look at Shiori's parents, Jinenji's parents. This is a theme that Takahashi goes back to over and over in the series. Just because this character has allowed himself to feel compassion, perhaps even some form of protective love for Rin does not mean that they will be destined for romance or a hundred hanyou babies. If anything, read my other story, Beauty, for a far more realistic version of how I'd say he feels about Rin.

I also think that assuming this pairing will someday fall in luv and have a fluffy, happy life together, that he will be entranced by her beauty or innocence, really sells both of the characters short, especially Sesshomaru. He's not going to melt. Which means the fact that he does care for Rin in whatever respect, is all the more significant to his character.